Section 1983 claims and Immunity; Qualified Immunity for School Staff
Plaintiffs filed claims against the principal and school board for racial discrimination; violation of their son’s right not to be apprehended or taken into custody; violation of his right not to be subjected to unreasonable searches and seizures; and violation of his right not to be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. The school board and principal asserted that there are no disputed facts and trial is not necessary. The principal also asserted that she is entitled to qualified immunity, protection from liability and trial.
Regarding the principal, the court found that a trial was necessary. The principal is not entitled to qualified immunity because the rights she may have violated were clearly established and she had actual notice of the standards pertaining to school searches. Additionally, a jury could find that the principal violated the student’s constitutional rights by conducting a search without reasonable suspicion or carrying out a search that was unreasonable in scope
Regarding the school board, the court found that a trial was not necessary because the plaintiffs could not present any evidence to show that the school board acted with deliberate indifference to the rights of the student. The board properly trained the principal and all other employees on proper school search procedures by providing a detailed pamphlet explaining the current laws regarding school searches. The assistant superintendent also reviewed the school’s rules on searches with the principal.
Shanell M. Bowden, IASB Law Clerk