Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Mc and Rc, Individually and As Parents of Cc, A Minor Under the Age of 18 Years v. Arlington Central School District

July 24, 2012

MC AND RC, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS PARENTS OF CC, A MINOR UNDER THE AGE OF 18 YEARS, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
ARLINGTON CENTRAL SCHOOL DISTRICT; ARLINGTON CENTRAL SCHOOL DISTRICT BOARD OF EDUCATION; GEOFFREY M. HICKS, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS A FORMER SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS OF ARLINGTON CENTRAL SCHOOL DISTRICT; FRANK V. PEPE JR., INDIVIDUALLY AND AS A FORMER SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS OF ARLINGTON CENTRAL SCHOOL DISTRICT; DR. BRENDAN LYONS, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS EXECUTIVE PRINCIPAL OF ARLINGTON HIGH SCHOOL; HILARY ROBERTO, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS HOUSE PRINCIPAL AND/OR ASSISTANT HOUSE PRINCIPAL OF ARLINGTON HIGH SCHOOL; SCOTT WOOD, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS A HOUSE PRINCIPAL OF ARLINGTON HIGH SCHOOL; DWIGHT BONK, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS A FORMER HOUSE PRINCIPAL OF ARLINGTON HIGH SCHOOL; CHRISTOPHER BAYER, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS COMMITTEE ON SPECIAL EDUCATION CHAIRPERSON FOR ARLINGTON CENTRAL SCHOOL DISTRICT; DENISE ZAHAKOS, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS A SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGIST OF ARLINGTON HIGH SCHOOL; DALLYSE GIRONDA, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS A SPECIAL EDUCATION TEACHER AT ARLINGTON HIGH SCHOOL; CHRISTOPHER BABB, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS A SOCIAL WORKER AT ARLINGTON HIGH SCHOOL; JEFF DEZAGO, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS A GUIDANCE COUNSELOR AT ARLINGTON HIGH SCHOOL; KELLY LAPPAN, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS PRESIDENT OF ARLINGTON CENTRAL SCHOOL DISTRICT BOARD OF EDUCATION; UNKNOWN TEACHERS AND ADMINISTRATORS 1-100, THE EXACT NAMES AND IDENTITIES OF WHOM ARE NOT PRESENTLY KNOWN; DUTCHESS COUNTY SHERIFF DEPARTMENT; DEPUTY SHERIFF JANINE ARSENAULT, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS DEPUTY SHERIFF; DEPUTY SHERIFF MICHAEL RAHILLY, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS DEPUTY SHERIFF; AND OTHER POTENTIAL ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES AND/OR OFFICIALS OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK AND/OR COUNTY OF DUTCHESS 1-100; DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Seibel, J.

OPINION AND ORDER

Before the Court are the Motions to Dismiss of Defendants Arlington Central School District ("ACSD"), Arlington Central School District Board of Education ("ACSD BOE"), Geoffrey M. Hicks, Frank V. Pepe Jr., Dr. Brendan Lyons, Hilary Roberto, Scott Wood, Dwight Bonk, Christopher Bayer, Denise Zahakos, Dallyse Gironda, Christopher Babb, Jeff Dezago, and Kelly Lappan (the "Arlington Defendants"), (Doc. 29), and Defendants Dutchess County Sheriff's Department, Deputy Sheriff Janine Arsenault, and Deputy Sheriff Michael Rahilly (the "Dutchess Defendants"), (Doc. 25), (collectively with the Arlington Defendants, "Defendants"). For the following reasons, Defendants' Motions are GRANTED.

I.Background

A. Factual Background

For the purposes of the present Motions, the Court accepts as true the facts (but not the conclusions) as stated in Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint ("AC").

1. CC's History at Arlington High School

At all relevant times, Plaintiff CC was a student at Arlington High School ("AHS"), a school within the Arlington Central School District. (AC ¶ 9.)*fn1 Plaintiff MC is CC's mother, Plaintiff RC is CC's father, and at all relevant times, CC, MC, and RC resided in LaGrangeville, New York. (Id. ¶¶ 9-11.) CC has Asperger's Syndrome and has had an Individualized Education Program ("IEP") since at least the 2001-2002 school year (before his enrollment at AHS). (Id. ¶ 31.) Beginning in the 2005-2006 school year (also before CC's enrollment at AHS), the ACSD has allegedly been hostile towards Plaintiffs, as evidenced by ACSD's "attempts to force speech therapy and the Impact Program" on CC and reporting of MC and RC to Child Protective Services ("CPS"). (Id. ¶ 32.) Due to this ongoing hostility, MC notified ACSD on October 2, 2007 "that she did not want any one questioning Plaintiff CC without her knowledge and written consent." (Id. ¶ 33.)

Between January and March 2010, after CC had entered AHS, Defendant Gironda, a special education teacher at AHS, encouraged CC to join the "Allies Group," which Plaintiffs describe as "a gay and lesbian liberation group." (Id. ¶¶ 22, 35.) Defendant Zahakos, a school psychologist at AHS, also suggested that CC join the group. (Id. ¶¶ 21, 35.) Despite the fact that CC "continuously told [Gironda] no, as he is not homosexual,"*fn2 Gironda once asked two boys to take CC to the club and give him a ride home. (Id. ¶ 35.)*fn3

2. The Events of March 19, 2010

The bulk of Plaintiffs' claims are premised on a series of events that occurred on March 19, 2010. On that day, at the beginning of third period, Gironda noticed that CC "'looked sad.'" (AC ¶ 37.) During fourth period, Gironda told CC that he had to eat lunch with her in the Impact Program room. (Id. ¶ 38.) Plaintiffs allege that CC was sad because of the "combination of having lunch with . . . Gironda and eating in the Impact Program room."*fn4 (Id.) CC was brought to the Impact Program room so that a social worker, Freya Bomba, could evaluate him. (Id. ¶ 40.) Bomba then sent CC to his fifth period class. (Id.) Approximately 10 minutes into class, CC was called to the guidance office. (Id. ¶ 41.) The office was "closed off," and a woman sent CC back to class. (Id.) He went to the bathroom before returning to class, and upon exiting the bathroom, Defendant Dezago, a guidance counselor at AHS, was waiting for CC and took him to the West Assistant Principal's Office at approximately 11:15 a.m. (Id. ¶¶ 24, 41-42.) From there, Dezago and Zahakos took CC to the guidance office and questioned him. (Id. ¶¶ 41-42.) Defendant Roberto, the Assistant Principal and/or a House Principal, was present for at least fifteen minutes of questioning. (Id. ¶¶ 17, 42.) One of the questions they asked CC was, "'What if both of your parents were killed tomorrow, would you be suicidal then?'"*fn5 (Id. ¶ 42.) CC responded by saying that he would be "very sad, but not suicidal." (Id.)

At 11:49 a.m., Dezago called MC and informed her that he and four administrators believed that CC was suicidal. (Id. ¶ 47.) Dezago asked MC to come in to discuss next steps, and she replied that "she would be there as soon as she had transportation." (Id.) He responded that he would call her back in a few minutes after speaking to an administrator because he was not sure of the procedure for handling the situation. (Id.) At approximately 12:10 p.m., an "unidentified man dressed in white" entered the room where CC was being questioned and informed CC that he heard he was suicidal. (Id. ¶ 43.) About ten minutes later, Arsenault, the Deputy Sheriff, entered the room. (Id. ¶ 44.)*fn6 Arsenault and Zahakos told CC that "he could either go to the hospital or be arrested," and CC chose the hospital option. (Id. ¶ 46.)

Also at 12:10 p.m., Dezago called MC back and informed her that two other administrators -- in total, Defendants Dezago, Zahakos, Gironda, Babb (a social worker at AHS), Wood (a House Principal at AHS), and Roberto -- believed that CC was suicidal and needed to go to the hospital. (Id. ¶¶ 18, 23, 48.) Dezago told MC that Defendant Bonk, the House Principal, also agreed they should call an ambulance. (Id. ¶ 48.) MC "pleaded with Dezago for them to not call the ambulance and let her come in to pick up CC," but Dezago responded that an ambulance was already on its way.*fn7 (Id.) Plaintiffs recount the remainder of the conversation as follows:

MC asked Defendant Dezago who was going to pay for [the ambulance]. MC informed Defendants that she would be recording the conversation. Defendant Wood threatened MC that she had the option of having CPS come to her house with CC or the ambulance could take CC to the hospital. MC elected for CPS to bring CC home, but then Defendant Zahakos yelled out that was not an option. To this, Defendant Wood stated that MC would have to take CC for an evaluation and she agreed. Defendant Wood yelled back that it was too late for MC to pick up CC because the ambulance was already called. Plaintiff MC continued to plead with Defendant ACSD to allow her to pick up Plaintiff CC . . . . Defendant Arsenault then informed MC that if she tried to interfere in any way, she would be arrested. (Id. ¶¶ 49-50.) Eventually, the fire department took CC to the hospital in an ambulance; their report noted that he was "calm." (Id. ¶ 51.)*fn8

At the hospital, Dezago and MC had an exchange during which Dezago told MC that "he was one of only a few people that actually liked CC and MC, in fact there were many people that hated MC and CC," and that "CC belonged at the hospital and so did MC." (Id. ¶ 56.) While at the hospital, CC informed MC that he "never felt worse in all his life" than he did after Defendants' questioning that morning; "[t]hey kept speaking to him about suicide, but all he wanted to do was to return to class." (Id. ¶ 58.) CC also told MC that while he was being questioned, "Arsenault kept reaching for her gun," and that "the entire time he was with them, he was afraid one of them was going to kill him." (Id.) CC was dismissed from the hospital as "negative for suicide." (Id. ¶ 54.)

3. Requests for Records

Shortly after the March 19th incident, Plaintiffs requested records from Defendants relating to the incident. Specifically, they requested ACSD's suicide and transport policies but never received them. (Id. ¶ 61.) MC wrote to Defendant Hicks, the former Superintendent, to let him know that Defendants Pepe (the Superintendent), Lyons (Executive Principal of AHS), and the ACSD BOE did not investigate the incident or provide her with the school records regarding the March 19th incident, but Hicks never responded. (Id. ¶¶ 14-16, 62.) On May 7, 2010, MC reviewed CC's education, special education, and medical records, but found no information about the March 19th incident. (Id. ¶ 63.) When she requested information about the incident, Lyons provided her with the names of the three officers involved and stated that he did not have to give her the records because she was not an attorney. (Id.) On May 17, 2010, MC obtained two incident reports from the Dutchess County Sheriff's Office ("DCSO"), and on May 19, 2010, she received the case report from Arsenault. (Id. ¶¶ 67, 69.) One incident report noted that Roberto placed a 911 call at 10:53 a.m. and told the operator that she was calling regarding an emotionally-disturbed person and attempting to restrain CC, although Plaintiffs believe CC was still in his fifth-period class at that time. (Id. ¶ 67.) Plaintiffs attempted to obtain copies of the 911 records, tapes, and/or transcripts but were not successful. (Id. ¶ 71.) In an attempt to obtain CC's school records and the 911 records, Plaintiffs commenced an (apparently unsuccessful) action in New York State Court. (Id. ¶ 72.)

4. Contact with SC

At some point during the last several years, CC was friends with another student named SC. Plaintiffs allege that Gironda knew about this friendship and knew that it had recently changed. (Id. ¶ 74.) On June 11, 2010, CC asked Gironda if she knew where SC was, and Gironda replied, "[W]hat are you a stalker or something?" (Id. ¶ 75.) On June 16, 2010, Roberto called RC and informed him that SC's parents had complained about an incident involving CC patting SC on the back on June 11, 2010. (Id. ¶ 76.) On July 11, 2010, SC's parents came to Plaintiffs' home, pounded on the door and stated that CC had called SC that morning ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.