District Judge Affirms Ruling That School District Did Not Violate Athlete’s Constitutional Rights

Jun 23, 2017

A federal judge from the Eastern District of Texas has affirmed a magistrate judge’s finding that the Denison (Texas) Independent School District (DISD) did not violate a high school athlete’s Constitutional rights.
Plaintiff Michael Wright, who is the father of the athlete, alleged that district coaches and administrators, violated his son’s Constitutional rights when they asked him to cheat and made inappropriate comments about the boy’s mother. He further alleged that DISD was liable because it failed to “take steps to meaningfully investigate” the individual defendants.
For background purposes, Wright’s son was allegedly the star pitcher on the high school baseball team. Wright claimed that head coach Charles Bollinger made an inappropriate comment about his son’s mother and asked him to cheat during a game by applying Vaseline on the baseball. The plaintiff further alleged that his son was subjected to bullying and other “unfair” punishment after he reported the incidents to Athletic Director Chad Rogers and the administration.
Specifically, the plaintiff alleged that at a meeting with Henry Scott (DISD superintendent), and David Kirkbride (DISD assistant superintendent), that Scott warned him that his son would be kicked out of the baseball program for causing “this mess with the coach” if “things didn’t change” and that, when asked, clarified that he would be removed from the baseball team if the plaintiff did not drop the allegations regarding Bollinger’s treatment of his son. At the end-of-season athletics banquet, he received no recognition for his performance as a pitcher for the DISD team.
In agreement with the magistrate judge, the district judge wrote that “complaint fails to show (there) is a nexus between that misconduct and the sole policymaker for DISD, the DISD Board. (It) contains no allegation that the DISD Board participated in or condoned the misconduct the plaintiff alleges harmed him. Absent factual allegations tying the DISD Board to the misconduct vis-à-vis a ‘policy’ it created—either formally through a rulemaking process or informally through its complicity in the misconduct on multiple occasions—the plaintiff’s amended complaint fails sufficiently to allege DISD violated § 1983.”
Michael Wright, As Next Friend of His Minor Child, B.W. v. Denison Independent School District, et al..; E.D. Tex.; Civil Action No. 4:16-CV-615, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 79244; 5/24/17
Attorneys of Record: (for plaintiff) Jason Jeffrey Bach, LEAD ATTORNEY, The Bach Group PLLC, Austin, TX. (for defendants) Meredith Prykryl Walker, LEAD ATTORNEY, Laura Rodriguez McLean, Walsh Gallegos Trevino Russo & Kyle PC – Irving, Irving, TX; Donald Craig Wood, Walsh, Anderson, Gallegos, Green and Trevino, PC, San Antonio, TX.


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