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Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name M.R. v. Board of School Commissioners of Mobile County (Ala.) ED-AL-0001
Docket / Court 11-cv-245 ( S.D. Ala. )
State/Territory Alabama
Case Type(s) Education
Attorney Organization Southern Poverty Law Center
Case Summary
On May 21, 2011, multiple students of the Mobile County Public School System (MCPSS) filed this lawsuit in the United States District Court of the Southern District of Alabama, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against the Mobile County School District. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel and the ... read more >
On May 21, 2011, multiple students of the Mobile County Public School System (MCPSS) filed this lawsuit in the United States District Court of the Southern District of Alabama, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against the Mobile County School District. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel and the Southern Poverty Law Center, sought a court order mandating due process hearings before the school district issues long-term suspensions or expulsions. Specifically, plaintiffs claimed that the school district violated the Fourteenth Amendment right to due process by denying students a hearing before issuing long-term suspensions or expulsions. The school district also failed to notify parents before a suspension or expulsion was issued and denied students the right to defend themselves against accusations and to have an advocate or legal counsel present at a hearing.

The Mobile County Public School System frequently used long-term suspensions and expulsions as disciplinary measures for minor infractions. These disciplinary measures have severe detrimental impacts on students, and plaintiffs claimed that to employ these measures without a hearing is a violation of due process. School administrators often used these measures not only without a hearing, but also without informing students' parents before the suspension was issued, a violation of the School Code of Conduct Handbook. To the extent that administrators acted against the disciplinary code, the plaintiffs claimed the Board of Commissioners turned a blind eye to these actions and failed in their duties to train and supervisor administrators.

On March 1, 2013, the parties entered mediation and on June 10, 2013, the District Court (Judge William H. Steele) dismissed the case without prejudice on the terms of the settlement agreement. The settlement agreement stated terms for amending the Mobile County Public School System's Conduct Code and training administrators as well as goals for reducing suspensions and expulsions, among other measures.

The case is closed with a possibility to reopen if the school does not comply with the settlement.

Claire Lally - 09/24/2014


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Content of Injunction
Implement complaint/dispute resolution process
Monitor/Master
Monitoring
Defendant-type
Elementary/Secondary School
General
Failure to supervise
Failure to train
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Mobile County Public School System
Plaintiff Description Unnamed students of the Mobile County Public School System
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Southern Poverty Law Center
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2013 - 2016
Case Closing Year 2016
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Courts and Kids: Pursuing Educational Equity Through the State Courts
By: Michael Rebell (Columbia University, and Campaign for Educational Equity)
Citation: (University of Chicago Press, 2009)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
11-cv-245 (S.D. Ala.) 06/28/2013
ED-AL-0001-9001.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint 05/12/2011
ED-AL-0001-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order granting motion for judgment on the pleadings 07/18/2012 (2012 WL 2931263) (S.D. Ala.)
ED-AL-0001-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amended Complaint 08/09/2012
ED-AL-0001-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order denying motion to abstain and dismiss 08/30/2012 (2012 WL 3778283) (S.D. Ala.)
ED-AL-0001-0005.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Denying Motion for Class Certification 10/29/2012 (286 F.R.D. 510) (S.D. Ala.)
ED-AL-0001-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Settlement Agreement 06/27/2013
ED-AL-0001-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Cassady, William E. (S.D. Ala.) [Magistrate]
ED-AL-0001-9001
Steele, William H. (S.D. Ala.) [Magistrate]
ED-AL-0001-0004 | ED-AL-0001-0005 | ED-AL-0001-0006 | ED-AL-0001-9001
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Chartoff, Marion D. (Alabama)
ED-AL-0001-0001 | ED-AL-0001-0002 | ED-AL-0001-9001
Giovanetto, Levi John (District of Columbia)
ED-AL-0001-0002 | ED-AL-0001-9001
Herring, Christopher J. (District of Columbia)
ED-AL-0001-9001
Johnson, Jadine (Alabama)
ED-AL-0001-0002 | ED-AL-0001-0003 | ED-AL-0001-9001
Liss, Jason H. (Massachusetts)
ED-AL-0001-0002 | ED-AL-0001-0003 | ED-AL-0001-9001
Mallick, Sumit (District of Columbia)
ED-AL-0001-0002 | ED-AL-0001-9001
Morris, Maria V (California)
ED-AL-0001-9001
Mueller, Joseph J. (Massachusetts)
ED-AL-0001-0002 | ED-AL-0001-0003 | ED-AL-0001-9001
Straw, Christopher M. (Massachusetts)
ED-AL-0001-9001
Zhou, Yin (Massachusetts)
ED-AL-0001-0002 | ED-AL-0001-0003 | ED-AL-0001-9001
Defendant's Lawyers Atchison, James Derek (Alabama)
ED-AL-0001-0003 | ED-AL-0001-9001
Boardman, Mark S. (Alabama)
ED-AL-0001-9001
Carbo, K. Paul (Alabama)
ED-AL-0001-0003 | ED-AL-0001-9001
Carr, Clay Richard (Alabama)
ED-AL-0001-9001
Hill, Dana Bolden (Alabama)
ED-AL-0001-9001
Taylor, Frank G. (Alabama)
ED-AL-0001-0003 | ED-AL-0001-9001
Other Lawyers None on record

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