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S.M. v. Delaware Department of Education

United States District Court, D. Delaware

April 16, 2015

S.M., by her parent and next friend, D.C., by her parent and next friend, N.M., by her parent and next friend, T.P., by her parent and next friend, and T.P., by her parent and next friend,
v.
Delaware Department of Education and Mark Murphy in his capacity as Secretary of the Delaware Department of Education.

Duane Werb, WERB & SULLIVAN, Wilmington, DE. Charles J. Brown, III, GELLERT SCALI BUSENKELL & BROWN, LLC, Wilmington, DE. Attorneys for Plaintiffs.

Kenisha L. Ringgold, Joseph C. Handlon, STATE OF DELAWARE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, Wilmington, DE. Attorneys for Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

LEONARD P. STARK, District Judge.

INTRODUCTION

Five students of the charter school Reach Academy for Boys and Girls, Inc. ("Reach") - S.M., D.C., N.M., T.P., and T.P., all by their parents and next friends (collectively, "Plaintiffs") - filed a Verified Complaint on December 31, 2014, requesting declaratory and injunctive relief against the Delaware Department of Education ("DOE") and Mark Murphy in his capacity as Secretary of the Department of Education ("Secretary Murphy'') (collectively, "Defendants"), as well as class certification and attorneys' fees. (D.I. 1) Plaintiffs alleged gender and race discrimination in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983; gender discrimination in violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. § 1681; denial of due process in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983; violation of 14 Del. C. § 514A; violation of 14 Del. C. § 407(a)(1); and breach of an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing in a settlement agreement between Defendants, Reach, and other Reach students (not Plaintiffs). ( Id. at ¶¶ 94-143) Plaintiffs subsequently indicated they were revising their cause of action arising under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to one arising under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d et seq. (See D.I. 12 at 3-4)

On January 5, 2015, Plaintiffs filed a motion for expedited preliminary injunctive and related relief ("the Preliminary Injunction Motion"), citing as the basis for expedition the impending deadline for the submission of school "choice" applications for the 2015-2016 school year, which was January 14, 2015. (D.I. 3) The Court expedited its review of the Preliminary Injunction Motion and heard oral argument on January 9, 2015. ( See D.I. 21 ("Tr.")) On January 12, 2015, the Court issued a memorandum order, S.M v. Del. Dep't of Educ., 2015 WL 163499 (D. Del. Jan. 12, 2015) ("Memorandum Order" or "Mem. Ord."), denying Plaintiffs' Preliminary Injunction Motion. (D.I. 14)

On January 26, 2015, Plaintiffs advised the Court that they intended to pursue only their gender and race discrimination causes of action. ( See DJ. 15)

On February 3, 2015, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (DJ. 17) On February 23, in addition to opposing Defendants' motion, Plaintiffs requested leave to file an amended complaint. (DJ. 23 at 2) Briefing was completed on March 9, 2015. (DJ. 18, 23, 24)

The Court will grant Defendants' motion to dismiss and deny Plaintiffs' request for leave to file an amended complaint.

BACKGROUND

Last year, in Reach Academy for Boys and Girls, Inc. v. Delaware Department of Education, 8 F.Supp. 3d 574 (D. Del. 2014) (hereinafter "Reach II") , the Court granted four Reach students - O.G., T.W., T.W., and S.O., by their parents and next friends - a preliminary injunction that required Defendants to extend Reach's charter for the --2015 school year. None of the students who filed Reach II are Plaintiffs in the instant case.

On April 29, 2014, Defendants, Reach, and the four student plaintiffs in Reach II entered into a settlement agreement ("the Settlement Agreement"), whereby the Reach II plaintiffs agreed to dismiss without prejudice all remaining claims, and Defendants agreed not to appeal the Court's grant of a preliminary injunction. ( See DJ. 24, Ex. B) Defendants further agreed that:

Reach may apply for a renewal of its charter.... Reach's renewal application, if submitted, will be treated as any other application seeking a renewal of a charter term that expires on June 30, 2014 and Defendants will consider and treat any such application under current law, regulations and practice. To be clear, and by way of example and not ...

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