United States District Court, D. Nebraska
WARREN D. CROZIER, and PAULA M. CROZIER, Parents of Minor Child A.C., Plaintiffs,
WESTSIDE COMMUNITY SCHOOL DISTRICT, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
RICHARD G. KOPF, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Warren D. Crozier, and Paula M. Crozier, Parents of Minor
Child A.C., filed this pro se case on November 16, 2018, and
have been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis. The
matter is now before the court on Plaintiffs' motion for
appointment of counsel (Filing 3).
Complaint is nearly identical to a complaint they filed in
this court on September 17, 2018, in No. 8:18CV438. That case
was dismissed without prejudice on October 25, 2018, when the
court determined on initial review of the complaint that
Plaintiffs lacked standing to bring individual § 1983
claims based solely upon alleged violations of their
child's constitutional rights, and that they were not
permitted to sue as the child's representatives while
proceeding pro se. The court advised Plaintiffs that if they
were unable to find an attorney who was willing to take the
case on a contingent-fee basis, the action could be re-filed
and a request could be made for court-appointed counsel.
Plaintiffs were further advised that the court had made no
determination regarding the merits of their minor child's
claims, and that a re-filed action would not necessarily be
permitted to proceed.
SUMMARY OF COMPLAINT
bring this action on behalf of their minor child
(“A.C.”), who was enrolled as a student at
Westside Middle School in Omaha, Nebraska, during the
2016-2017 school year. Plaintiffs claim
Defendants violated their child's First Amendment
right to free speech and denied her the equal protection of
the laws. Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, they seek to
recover compensatory and punitive damages, and also request
declaratory and injunctive relief.
claim A.C.'s eighth grade English teacher, Elizabeth
Meyers, “violated A.C.'s Constitutional 1st
Amendment right to free speech by demanding A.C. stop
speaking” during a class discussion (Filing 1, p. 5).
Material allegations of fact regarding this claim include:
13. On Monday 10/3/16, in 4th period, Meyers presented a
video news story on “Athletes kneeling during the
National Anthem.” Meyers discussed how kneeling was an
act of protest in support of the Black Lives Matter Movement,
against those in law enforcement. Meyers also stated that
white people had said, “They (athletes) should be
hanged by the flagpole.” Meyers assigned students to
watch this video and comment on their views and why or why
not athletes were kneeling.
15. Upon finishing the video, Meyers called on A.C. to share
her ideas. A.C. declined and asked Meyers to call on someone
else. Meyers insisted A.C. answer.
16. A.C., a 13 year old at the time, formulating ideas and
questions, shared that the kneeling was disrespectful to law
enforcement and military, and questioned that this violence
could have stemmed from music lyrics that said such things as
“F-the Police, and the use of the N-word.” (as
the racial slur, but note that A.C. did NOT use the curse
words, but as the ‘F-word' and ‘N-word'
respectively). Meyers demanded where A.C. had gotten this
information, and A.C. answered “from the media.”
17. A.C. then to explain further, shared an example of her
previous school year during 7th grade lunchtime where she
overheard two students, one white and one black, where the
white student asked why he couldn't say the N-word if the
black student could. At this point Meyers interrupted A.C.
and demanded A.C. stop speaking. A.C. stated she wasn't
finished and needed to explain further, and Meyers forbade
A.C. to finish, ....
18. A.C. would have continued her opinion that the use of the
N-word should not be said by anyone, but A.C. was not allowed
(Filing 1, pp. 12-13)
also claim Meyers “purposefully and willfully
retaliated against A.C. and further violated A.C.'s
Constitutional 1st and 14th amendment rights” on the
following day, when “Meyers was fully aware that A.C.
was absent from school at home ill” (Filing 1, p. 6).
They claim “Meyers took that opportunity to smear and
slander A.C.'s excellent reputation and character to the
students in every class period, ” as she “lied to
intentionally defame and label A.C. as a ‘racist who
says the N-word' thus inflicting emotional and physical
distress, decimating A.C.'s reputation and placing A.C.
in direct harm and danger at school, ...” (Filing 1, p.
Material allegations of fact regarding this claim include:
22. On the morning of Tuesday, 10/4/16, A.C. woke up not
feeling well and stayed home from school. The Croziers called
the school before classes started and reported A.C.'s
absence due to illness and fever.
23. At 9:56a.m. on Tuesday 10/4/16, Plaintiff Paula Crozier
received an upsetting email from Meyers stating that A.C. had
to be “cut off” in yesterday's class because
the information A.C. shared took a “dicey turn”
when A.C. made statements “generalizing blacks.”
Meyers stated in the email that the Croziers could speak to
Meyers about it after school at parent teacher conferences.
25. A.C. began receiving texts from students at about noon on
Tuesday 10/4/16 with questions about A.C. being suspended for
(sic) “What you done” “And I know for a
fact what happened in the class”, “Your teacher
told all the other classes what you said, not what you (sic)
anime but what you said” and “I don't think
the teacher would lie and tell all the classes something
(sic) in true.” 26. With these social media texts and
messages coming from angry students, although still sick,
A.C. insisted on joining her parents at parent teacher
conferences to face Meyers and confront Meyers about what
Meyers said to classes that day about A.C. Even walking into
the school, A.C. was accosted by students with taunts of
“A.C.- we heard what you said”. These accusations
caused A.C. great fear and emotional distress. On 10/4/16 at
approximately 5pm, the Plaintiffs sat down with Meyers to
discuss Meyers' actions ....
27. ... Meyers admitted to not knowing A.C. well enough to
make judgments about A.C., but when confronted by Plaintiff
who stated, “It is entirely unfair that you label A.C.
a racist!” Meyers rolled her eyes and smugly ...