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Case 5:18-cv-01481-HNJ Document 1 Filed 09/12/18 Page 1 of 94 FILED

2018 Sep-12 AM 08:18


U.S. DISTRICT COURT
N.D. OF ALABAMA
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COMPLAINT

INTRODUCTION

Zelda Menefee (“Zelda” or Plaintiff”) is a nineteen-year-old female

who attended Grissom High School in Huntsville, Alabama during the 2015-

2016 school years before ultimately and unfortunately dropping out due to

the treatment complained of herein. Zelda is transgender, and courageously

made the choice to “come out” and live as her true self when she enrolled at

Grissom High School in January 2015. Unfortunately, Zelda was subjected

to daily harassment and discrimination due to her gender identity and/or

perceived gender non-conformity during her time at Grissom High School.

The Grissom High School teachers and administrators condoned and often

participated in the bullying, harassment, and intimidation that Zelda endured

on a daily basis. After reporting multiple instances of harassment by both

other students and teachers, but receiving absolutely no relief from the

school administration, Zelda withdrew from school, foregoing the high

school experience altogether.

The pervasive acts of discrimination, bullying, and harassment

described herein were widespread and continuous, including: refusing to call

Zelda by her chosen female name or use female pronouns when addressing

her; denying Zelda’s access to the women’s restroom; denying Zelda entry

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to the females’ Physical Education class; denying Zelda the use of the

females’ locker room; refusing to investigate Zelda’s complaints when other

students bullied her; deliberately disregarding Zelda’s complaints when a

teacher bullied her; punishing Zelda for wearing feminine clothing that

otherwise met every dress code requirement; and ultimately allowing a

minor to suffer to the extent she felt forced to quit school just to avoid cruel

treatment on the basis of her gender identity and/or perceived gender non-

conformity.

Zelda simply wanted to live as a normal teenage girl and have a

normal high school experience, but the Defendants took that experience

away from her. Zelda brings this action to assert her rights under Title IX,

the Fourteenth Amendment via 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and the First Amendment.

JURISDICTION

This is an action at law to redress the deprivation under color of

statute, ordinance, regulation, custom or usage of a right, privilege and

immunity secured to Plaintiff by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United

States Constitution and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff is also bringing this

action pursuant to Title IX (20 U.S.C. § 1681).

Accordingly, the jurisdiction of this Court is invoked under 28 U.S.C.

§ 1331, § 1332, and § 1343(a)(3); 28 U.S.C. § 1367; and 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

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PARTIES

1. Plaintiff ZELDA MENEFEE (“Zelda” or “Plaintiff”) is an adult

transgender female residing in Giles County, Tennessee. At all times

relevant to this Complaint, Zelda was a minor attending school at

Grissom High School within the City of Huntsville Board of Education

school system.

2. Defendant CITY OF HUNTSVILLE BOARD OF EDUCATION

(“Board”) is an individual entity that controls, operates, and maintains

schools in Huntsville, Alabama, including Grissom High School. Zelda

was a student at Grissom High School at all relevant times alleged in this

Complaint.

3. Defendant REBECCA BALENTINE (“Principal”) was at all

material times an employee of Defendant Board acting in the scope of her

employment as principal at Grissom High School. Defendant Principal

was the highest-ranking school official at Grissom High School, and

responsible for the students’ safety. She was the ultimate supervisor over

the faculty and students at Grissom High School. She is sued in her

individual capacity and her official capacity.

4. Defendant CASEY WARDYNSKI (“Superintendent”) was at all

material times the Superintendent and employee of Defendant Board.

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Defendant Wardynski was at all relevant times the ultimate policymaker

for Defendant Board and ultimately responsible for the training,

disciplining, and supervising of all employees of the Defendant Board.

He is sued in his individual capacity and his official capacity.

5. Defendant JAMES COLN (“Coln”) was at all material times an

employee of Defendant Board acting in the scope of his employment as

the freshman principal at Grissom High School and the direct principal

for Zelda at specified times alleged in this Complaint. He is sued in his

individual capacity and his official capacity.

6. Defendant CONNIE STEPHENS (“Stephens”) was at all material

times an employee of Defendant Board acting in the scope of her

employment as a female students’ Physical Education teacher at Grissom

High School. She is sued in her individual capacity and her official

capacity.

7. Defendant JAKE MORAN (“Moran”) was at all material times an

employee of Defendant Board acting in the scope of his employment as

the male students’ Physical Education teacher at Grissom High School.

He is sued in his individual capacity and his official capacity.

8. Defendant DIANE STALEY (“Staley”) was at all material times an

employee of Defendant Board acting in the scope of her employment as a

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History teacher at Grissom High School. She is sued in her individual

capacity and her official capacity.

9. Defendant ALICIA DESROSIER (“DesRosier”) was at all material

times an employee of Defendant Board acting in the scope of her

employment as a Health teacher at Grissom High School. She is sued in

her individual capacity and official capacity.

10. Defendant MAURICE SHINGLETON (“Shingleton”) was at all

material times an employee of Defendant Board acting in the scope of his

employment as an assistant principal-Teacher on Special Assignment at

Grissom High School. He is sued in his individual capacity and official

capacity.

11. Defendant AMY LANGFORD (“Langford”) was at all material

times an employee of Defendant Board acting in the scope of her

employment as Grissom High School’s guidance counselor. She is sued

in her individual capacity and official capacity.

12. Defendant SHIRLEY WELLINGTON (“Wellington”) was at all

material times an employee of Defendant Board acting in the scope of her

employment as Compliance Director/Title IX coordinator for Defendant

Board and Grissom High School. She was responsible for the Title IX

compliance, training, investigation, and supervision over Title IX

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complaints. She was also responsible for evaluating, planning,

implementing, and monitoring programs, policies, and procedures for the

District1. She is sued in her individual capacity and her official capacity.

13. When referred to collectively, Defendant Rebecca Balentine,

Defendant James Coln, and Defendant Maurice Shingleton will be

referred to as “Defendant Principals.”

14. When referred to collectively, Defendant Stephens, Defendant Moran,

Defendant Staley, Defendant DesRosier, and Defendant Langford will be

referred to as “Defendant Teachers.”

________

15. The events complained of herein occurred between January 2015 and

May 2016 while Zelda was still a minor child attending Grissom High

School. Zelda turned 19 on April 22, 2018, so this action is timely

pursuant to Ala. Code § 6-2-8.

DEFENDANT BOARD POLICIES


Title IX Policies
16. At all material times as described in this Complaint, Defendant Board

had a Policy Manual with applicable student guidelines therein. Section 4.7

sets forth the Title IX and Section 504 grievance procedures.2

1
“Huntsville City Schools hires new Compliance Director after 25-year employee
retires.” Available at: https://whnt.com/2014/12/18/huntsville-city-schools-hires-new-
compliance-director-after-25-year-employee-retires/ (December 18, 2014).

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17. The Policy Manual states that any student may make a written

complaint of any Title IX violation to the principal of the school. Upon

receipt of such complaint, the principal shall make an appropriate

investigation and notify the student of the results with fifteen (15) days. The

complaint and its resolution shall be forwarded to the Title IX compliance

officer if related to alleged discrimination based on sex, and the compliance

officer will make further inquiry as needed. The Policy Manual also contains

an appeals process for the student if the student is unsatisfied with the results

of the principal’s investigation.

18. Section 6.13.1 of the Policy Handbook further states that the Board

“strictly prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex or gender in its

programs or activities, including sexual harassment”. Under 6.13.2, the Title

IX coordinator has the duty of receiving and responding to Title IX inquiries

and complaints.

Bullying and Harassment

19. Section 6.11 of the Policy Handbook is titled “Bullying, Harassment,

Violence, Threats of Violence and Intimidation Prohibited.”

2
The policies outlined herein are taken from the Grissom High School Handbook
for the 2016-2017 school year. Plaintiff does not have a copy of the policy handbook
from the two school years prior when she attended Grissom; however, upon information
and belief, the policies are the same. Plaintiff will request said policies through discovery
and amend this Complaint accordingly if needed.

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20. According to the written Defendant Board Policy, bullying is defined

as “an intentional act that causes harm to others…including, but not limited

to, written electronic, verbal and nonverbal threats, taunts, physical acts,

blackmail, manipulation or even extortion.”

21. According to the Defendant Board Policy, harassment is defined as

conduct, based on a protected classification, that is

physically or verbally threatening, intimidating,


harmful, or humiliating; and has the purpose or
effect of limiting or interfering with a student’s
educational performance or access to educational
programs and activities, or otherwise disrupting
the learning environment.

22. Harassment is further described as making disparaging remarks,

making insulting or threatening gestures, or acts of intimidation such as

hitting/shoving.

23. Any harassment on the basis of a student’s sex or gender is strictly

prohibited and leads to a series of graduated consequences “as outlined in

the Behavioral Learnings Guides or any rule or standard adopted under

authority of this policy.”

24. The Policy Manual further requires that if the principal or the

principal’s designee learns of bullying, alleged harassment, violence, or

threats of violence or intimidation, he or she must meet with the alleged

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victim to assist them in completing a written report on a Board-sanctioned

form.

25. The principal or principal’s designee is subject to detailed

investigative, disciplinary, and reporting responsibilities with regard to

bullying and harassment by any student, teacher, or individual at Grissom

High School.

Sexual Harassment

26. Section 6.14 of the Policy Manual covers student sexual harassment,

which is defined as, among others, “communications of a sexual nature and

any other gender-based harassment, whether initiated by students, school

employees, or third parties when: a) submission to the conduct is made

explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of the student’s education,

including participation in extra-curricular activities; b) submission to or

rejection of the conduct is used as a basis for decisions affecting the

student’s academic performance or any other aspect of the student’s

education; and c) the conduct has the purpose and effect of unreasonably

interfering with a student’s academic performance or participation in school

activities or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive education

environment.”

27. The Policy Manual also authorizes and directs the Superintendent to

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Establish, implement, and revise more detailed


sexual harassment complaint procedures that are
designed to provide students who believe that they
are victims of unlawful sexual harassment with a
thorough, discreet, and prompt internal procedure
for investigating and resolving sexual harassment
complaints. The procedures will be drafted so as to
facilitate the gathering of relevant facts and
evidence, permit timely assessment of the merits of
the complaint, provide an opportunity for informal
resolution of complaint where appropriate,
eliminate any harassment that is established by the
investigation, and prevent any retaliation based
upon the filing of the complaint. The procedures
will reflect due regard for the legal rights and
interests of all persons involved in the complaint,
and will be drafted, explained, and implemented so
as to be understandable and accessible to all
student population groups and ages.

Grissom High School Handbook Policies

28. The Student Dress Code rules begin on page 12 of the Handbook.

Dress Code infractions include the following: clothing containing vulgar

language; shorts/skirts that are more than three inches above the knee; hats;

pajamas; baggy pant; shirts that bare midriffs; and revealing tops.

FACTS

Background

29. Plaintiff Zelda Menefee (“Zelda”) is a transgender female.

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30. Transgender persons are people whose gender identities differ from

the sex they were assigned at birth. A transgender female’s sex is female

even though she was assigned the sex of male at birth.

31. Gender dysphoria is a serious medical condition recognized in the

American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of

Mental Disorders, Fifth Ed. (2013) (“DSM-V”), and by the other leading

medical and mental health professional groups, including the American

Medical Association and the American Psychological Association.

32. Gender dysphoria refers to clinically significant distress that occurs

when a person’s gender identity differs from the person’s sex assigned at

birth. If untreated, gender dysphoria may result in psychological distress,

anxiety, depression, and even suicidal ideation or self-harm.

33. Treatment of gender dysphoria is usually provided pursuant to the

World Professional Association of Transgender Health’s Standards of Care

for the Health of Transsexual, Transgender, and Gender Nonconforming

People (“Standards of Care”). Major medical and mental health professional

organizations recognize the Standards of Care as authoritative.

34. Treatment for gender dysphoria aligns the transgender person’s body

and lived experience with the person’s true sex. Steps that transgender

people may take to treat their gender dysphoria pursuant to the Standards of

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Care include: (1) social transition; (2) hormone therapy; and/or (3) gender-

affirming surgery. These treatments do not change a transgender person’s

sex, which their gender identity determines.

35. Zelda is a transgender female with gender dysphoria. Hereinafter,

“transgender” shall be used to encompass Zelda’s gender as well as her

medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria.

36. Social transition entails a transgender person living in accordance

with the person’s gender identity. For example, for a transgender female,

social transition can include, among other things, changing her first name to

a name typically associated with females, using female pronouns, changing

her identity documents to indicate a female gender, wearing clothing and

adopting grooming habits stereotypically associated with females, using

restrooms and other facilities for females, and otherwise living as a female in

all aspects of life.

37. In order for social transition to have the greatest therapeutic effect

possible, a transgender woman’s family members, educators, and others in

their community must recognize her as a female and treat her the same as all

other females.

38. Zelda told friends that she was transgender on June 12, 2014, and

began taking steps toward social transition in the summer of 2014.

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39. In January 2015, Zelda enrolled at Grissom High School as a

freshman. At this time, she was already using her female name Zelda and

had otherwise socially transitioned, including dressing as a female and

wearing a long wig and make-up.

Harassment, Discrimination, and Bullying

40. During Zelda’s time at Grissom High School, she faced harassment,

discrimination, and bullying on a consistent and widespread basis, putting

the Defendants on direct notice that said unlawful behavior was able to be

investigated and properly disciplined both in accordance with internal

policies and Federal laws. This harassment, discrimination, and bullying

came in a variety of forms, as set forth in great detail infra.

41. Others students regularly harassed Zelda. Students made sexually

discriminatory comments to her in the halls between classes, called her

pejorative names, referred to her by her dead3 name, bullied her about how

she dressed, and threatened her because of her gender identity and/or

perceived gender non-conformity. This harassment, discrimination, and

bullying occurred in the presence of Defendant Principals, Defendant

Teachers, and faculty without any reporting, investigation, or remedial

action taken against the offending students. On several occasions, during

3
The birth name of a transgender female is commonly referred to as her “dead
name.”

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school hours, students would insult and laugh openly at Zelda, both in class

and in the hallways in the presence of Defendant Teachers, calling her

“trans” in a derogatory manner and making other disparaging remarks, as

outlined in more detail infra. The bullying became so severe that Zelda

reported that if it wasn’t for her private counselor, “I’d be completely insane,

locked up, or dead.”

42. After being on direct notice of bullying so severe that it caused a

minor child to openly make such a drastic statement, neither Defendant

Board, Defendant Principals, Defendant Teachers, nor Defendant

Wellington reported the bullying or harassment, but instead condoned said

behavior by allowing it to continue in their presence and ultimately turning a

blind eye.

43. Both students and Defendant Teachers also harassed Zelda and

subjected her to sex-based discrimination in the presence of Defendant

Teachers, including taunting her, calling her by her dead name, and telling

her that she was not a girl.

44. From the very outset of her enrollment, Defendant Teachers and many

of Zelda’s peers refused to acknowledge her as a female, instead calling

Zelda by her dead name of James Russell (or “Russ”), using male pronouns

when speaking with/referring to Zelda, and calling Zelda “sir.”

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45. The Defendant Teachers refused to address Zelda by her chosen

female name although they routinely addressed other students by chosen

nicknames totally unrelated to the student’s birth name. Defendant Teachers

made a conscious effort to alienate and humiliate Zelda, which encouraged

students to harass and bully Zelda while knowing there would be no

repercussions, given Defendant Principals and Defendant Teachers also

participated in said sex-based discrimination and harassment.

Specific Instances of Harassment, Discrimination, and Bullying

The bullying and discrimination that Zelda endured from faculty,

administrators, and other students at school was so widespread, pervasive,

and severe that it can be broken down into discrete categories as follows:

I. JANUARY 2015-MAY 2015

A. Suppression of Zelda’s Freedom of Expression by Not


Allowing Her to Dress in Feminine Clothing

46. During her first semester at Grissom, Zelda wore a knee-length skirt

to school that complied with the school’s dress code policies. Defendant

Coln, who was aware of Zelda’s gender identity, ordered a security guard to

escort Zelda to Defendant Coln’s office and made her change into her

“male” gym clothes—a pair of athletic pants and a t-shirt.

47. Defendant Coln’s decision to not allow Zelda to dress in accordance

with her gender identity was premised on Coln’s own personal beliefs.

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B. Placement in the Male Physical Education Class and


Failure to Address Male Students’ Relentless Bullying of
Zelda

48. During all relevant times, Physical Education class was a mandatory

subject at Grissom High School and was required for graduation. During

Zelda’s first semester at Grissom High School in January 2015, she was

placed in the boys’ Physical Education class.

49. Defendant Board, Defendant Principals, and Defendant Teachers were

all aware of Zelda’s gender identity, with Zelda “consistently, persistently,

and insistently4” living as a female in accordance with her gender identity at

the time she was placed in the boys’ Physical Education class.

50. During Physical Education class in 2015, a group of male students

approached Zelda. Zelda was wearing an ankle-length skirt. These students

told Zelda, in the presence of other students and Defendant Moran, that “that

shit’s gay as fuck, bro.” Defendant Moran, although required to report or

discipline students for bullying or harassing other students under his direct

supervision, took no action to assist or protect Zelda or to report or punish

the perpetrators.

51. On more than one (1) occasion in the fall of 2015, during Physical

Education class, a group of male students gathered outside the stall where

4
See Adams, by and through Kasper, 2018 WL 3583843, —F.Supp.3d — (M.D.
FL. July 26, 2018).

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Zelda was dressing for Physical Education class and hit the stall doors to

scare Zelda.

52. In addition to the instances of harassment Defendant Moran directly

observed, Zelda reported at least two (2) instances of harassment to

Defendant Moran. Defendant Moran’s only response was to say “ok,” and

he took no other action whatsoever.

53. Having made complaints directly to her teacher regarding the sexual

harassment, bullying, and discrimination she faced, and receiving no

recourse whatsoever, Zelda began feeling unsafe in Physical Education

class.

54. Accordingly, Zelda was ultimately forced to stop dressing out for

Physical Education class due to her fear of violence from the male students

who were repeatedly verbally bullying her and physically threatening her.

55. Although Defendant Moran was on actual notice of the harassment

and bullying, Defendant Moran failed to 1) ask Zelda why she stopped

dressing out; 2) tell her that he was deducting points off of her grade for not

dressing out; or 3) contact Zelda’s parents about the bullying and

harassment. Defendant Moran failed to formally report the bullying and

harassment or take any action whatsoever, in direct violation of Title IX and

school regulations.

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56. Zelda failed Physical Education class during her freshman year with a

grade of thirty-five (35) due to her inability to dress out for fear of the

constant harassment and bullying from the males in the male Physical

Education class she was placed in.

C. Denial of Access to the Female Bathroom

57. The women’s bathrooms at the school included partitioned, private

stalls that each have a separate door.

58. Zelda was not permitted to use the females’ restroom at school,

despite being female. When Zelda went to the females’ restroom, faculty

immediately contacted Zelda’s mother and Zelda was thereafter prohibited

from using the females’ restroom. By the end of the Fall 2015 semester,

Zelda’s only option for using the restroom without fear of punishment from

the school, or of physical or verbal assault from using the males’ restroom,

was to use the men’s cafeteria restroom, which was typically empty. Having

to use the men’s cafeteria restroom made Zelda feel humiliated,

embarrassed, and alienated from other students. As such, Zelda tried to use

the restroom as infrequently and inconspicuously as possible.

59. The harassment, sex-based discrimination, and threats Zelda suffered

while being forced to use the males’ restroom at school caused Zelda to

report to Defendant Principals and Martha Hardt, a guidance counselor at

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Grissom High School, that she avoided drinking liquids during the school

day to avoid having to go to the boys’ restroom.

60. The school later permitted Zelda to use the nurse’s restroom.

61. The school did not require any students other than Zelda to use the

nurse’s restroom. Having to use the nurse’s restroom made Zelda feel

humiliated, embarrassed, and alienated from other students. As such, Zelda

tried to use the restroom as infrequently and inconspicuously as possible.

62. Having to use the nurse’s restroom also created practical problems for

Zelda that non-transgender students did not face. The nurse’s restroom was

located across campus from many of her other classes, often causing her to

be late to class.

D. Unaddressed Bullying on Social Media

63. From January 2015 through May 2016, students took photographs of

Zelda during school without her knowledge or consent and posted them to

social media with negative comments, such as “Zelda lost her wig,” with the

intent to embarrass and bully Zelda. On one Instagram post, a student posted

the comment “James shouldn’t be in a dress.” Students took these

photographs at school during school hours and posted them during school

hours. At least one (1) Defendant, Defendant Shingleton, directly observed

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these posts. Singleton was responsible for reporting said bullying and

harassment, but chose not to, in violation of school policy and federal law.

64. Other students and faculty, including Defendant Principals, Defendant

Teachers, and Defendant Wellington, ignored Zelda’s reports of this

widespread and pervasive harassment and her cries for help, creating an

environment of tolerated harassment and discrimination against Zelda from

other students as well as the Defendants. The harassment and constant

bullying based on Zelda’s gender identity and/or perceived gender non-

conformity hindered Zelda from receiving an education like the other

students.

II. AUGUST 2015-MAY 2016

65. On August 19, 2015, Ms. Hardt emailed Zelda’s teachers, including

Defendant DesRosier and Defendant Shingleton, the following:

Mr. [sic] Menefee has related that he [sic] is


undergoing some gender identity transformations.
He [sic] relates that he [sic] “came out” last year
and prefers to be called Zelda.

He [sic] is relating some levels of concern that


perhaps some teachers are not accepting of his
[sic] transformation and his [sic] wishes to be
called Zelda.

I realize that this may not be a comfortable issue


for some people. But please be tolerant in working
with him [sic]. If you find that there are any

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concerning behaviors on the classroom, please just


let me know.

I think we can help Zelda through this transition


with minimal distraction to the educational
process.

66. Even after the letter was sent to Defendants DesRosier and Defendant

Shingleton, the unbearable bullying, harassment, and discrimination from

the prior school year carried into the new year, including a continued refusal

to call Zelda by her preferred female name or use female pronouns when

speaking/referring to her, continued discrimination based on her feminine

clothing, continued failure to address harassment and bullying in Physical

Education class, and a continued failure to address any of Zelda’s

complaints regarding the harassment and bullying she was enduring on a

near constant basis.

A. Continued Failure to Call Zelda By Her Name or Use


Correct Pronouns; Continued Discrimination Based on
Zelda’s Choice of Clothing

67. Defendant Teachers and many of Zelda’s peers continued to refuse to

acknowledge her as a female, opting instead to call Zelda by her dead name

of James Russell (or “Russ”), using male pronouns when speaking

with/referring to Zelda, and deliberately calling Zelda “sir.”

68. Defendant DesRosier, Zelda’s health teacher, refused to acknowledge

Zelda’s name and instead called Zelda by her dead name every day while

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calling roll at the beginning of class, even after Zelda asked her to stop on

multiple occasions.

69. Defendant Staley, Zelda’s U.S. history teacher, refused to

acknowledge Zelda’s name and instead called Zelda by her dead name and

referred to her using male pronouns. Zelda failed Defendant Staley’s class

with a grade of forty-one (41).

70. On several occasions during the 2015-2016 school year up until she

was forced to leave school due to harassment, threats, and bullying, the

Defendant Principals forced Zelda to change into male-specific clothes,

although she was female and in compliance with the dress code.

B. Other Students’ Assaults and Threats That Went


Unaddressed by Defendants

71. During the Fall Semester of the 2015-2016 school year, a male student

made a serious and direct threat against Zelda, telling her directly that he

would physically beat her because she was transgender. Said threat occurred

during school hours and on school property, and was immediately reported

to Defendant Langford.

72. When Zelda reported the threat to Defendant Langford—a school

counselor—Defendant Langford disregarded Title IX and school policy

regarding mandatory reporting of harassment and discrimination and took no

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further action to protect Zelda against the bullying and harassment, or even

to investigate or report the incident.

73. In March of 2016, the harassment and bullying increased at school

and online, and became more violent, threatening, and widespread. During

lunch, while teachers and students were present, students openly threw food

at Zelda. Teachers and staff did not stop, or even address, the behavior.

Zelda reported the lunchroom bullying and harassment, but Defendant

Teachers and Defendant Principals still refused to conduct any investigation,

take corrective action, or impose any discipline. During this time, Zelda’s

anxiety increased dramatically, causing acne and alopecia.

74. On more than one (1) occasion as Zelda was walking to class, other

students punched her in the stomach/ribs while other teachers and faculty

stood by. Defendant Principals often walked the hallways between classes,

yet did nothing to intervene or stop the assaults from taking place.

Defendants Principals’ failure to report, investigate, and/or discipline

offenders for the violence and bullying Zelda endured further condoned the

bullying, discrimination, and harassment (both verbal and physical).

Defendants Teachers’ and Defendant Principals’ said condonation of the

bullying, harassment, and discrimination created an environment of

tolerance for such conduct, causing an increase of sex-based discrimination,

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bullying, and harassment to the point that Zelda was suicidal and could not

emotionally endure the personal attacks regarding her gender identity and/or

perceived gender non-conformity.

75. Toward the end of the Spring 2016 semester, a male student, J.M.,

physically assaulted Zelda in the hallways between classes, attacking her and

pulling off her wig with students and faculty in direct sight. J.M.’s attack

clearly meets Defendant Board’s own policy definition of harassment and

was premised solely on Zelda’s transgender status.

76. Zelda immediately reported the assault to Defendant Shingleton.

77. Defendant Shingleton did not issue a report, conduct any sort of

investigation, or take any steps toward disciplining Zelda’s attacker, in

violation of both Board policy and federal law. In addressing the incident,

Defendant Shingleton referred to Zelda with male pronouns.

78. Due to fear of another physical attack, Zelda faked an illness the next

morning so that she could miss school.

79. Within thirty (30) days of J.M.’s assault, on or about April 7, 2016,

another student assaulted Zelda at school by yelling threats at her and

throwing food at her in the school cafeteria in the presence of Zelda’s

classmates and faculty. The student’s threats included calling Zelda a

“tranny,” stating that Zelda “had a dick,” and stating “fuck you and your

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entire family.” Again, Zelda immediately reported the incident to Defendant

Principal Balentine as required by Title IX and school policy, as she did not

feel safe or protected at school. However, as had been the case in the past,

Defendant Balentine neither investigated nor took any action against the

offender, in violation of both Board policy and federal law.

80. On April 7, 2016, after Zelda reported this incident to Ms. Hardt, Ms.

Hardt attempted to find the other student that had assaulted Zelda, but was

unable to because the student was not in the correct classroom. The student’s

parents were contacted about him not being in the required class, but not

about the assault. No investigation, reporting, or discipline regarding the

assault took place, and the school did not notify Zelda’s parents about the

assault, in violation of Board policy and federal law.

C. Being Denied Her Freedom of Expression to Be Listed By


Her Preferred Name in the School Yearbook

81. During the fall semester of the 2015-2016 school year, Zelda

requested not to appear in the school’s yearbook due to the constant

harassment she had already faced at school. After the faculty mandated that

she do so, Zelda appeared for her photograph wearing a long skirt, feminine

shirt, and a black wig with highlights, which were all within the school’s

dress code.

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82. When the photographer asked Zelda about her wig, Zelda became

embarrassed and upset. Zelda reported the incident to Defendant Langford

and requested that her picture not be included in the yearbook. Instead of the

school addressing the situation, Defendant Principals and Defendant

Teachers printed and distributed the yearbook with Zelda’s dead name,

“James Menefee,” listed beside a photo of an unknown male student.

D. The Beauty Pageant

83. During the Spring Semester of 2016, Grissom High School advertised

a beauty pageant. Several female students, including Zelda, signed up to

participate in the beauty pageant. After Zelda registered for the pageant, the

Defendants cancelled the event to prevent Zelda from participating.

E. Defendant Connie Stephens’ Bullying, Discrimination, and


Denial of Locker Room Access

84. In or around January 2016, Defendant Principal Balentine, at the

insistence of Ms. Hardt, permitted Zelda to join the females’ Physical

Education class.

85. On Zelda’s first day in the females’ Physical Education class, she

introduced herself to Defendant Connie Stephens, the females’ Physical

Education teacher, and asked where to go to dress for the class. Defendant

Stephens responded by addressing Zelda as “sir”, ordering Zelda to use the

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boys’ bathroom to change, and instructing her to put her clothes in a hallway

locker instead of the Physical Education gym lockers with the other females.

86. Defendant Stephens refused to assign Zelda a female gym locker for

Physical Education class, though every other female in the class was

assigned a female gym locker.

87. Defendant Stephens also refused to allow Zelda to dress in the female

locker room, deliberately ostracizing her from the other females. As Zelda

felt unsafe dressing in the male’s locker room, where she had been bullied

and threatened during the previous school year, she was forced to resort to

dressing in the nurse’s bathroom across campus.

88. No other students were required to dress for Physical Education class

in the nurse’s bathroom.

89. The nurse’s bathroom was not equipped with benches, showers, or

other facilities and equipment that was provided in the locker rooms.

90. The female’s locker rooms at the school are partitioned, or capable of

being partitioned, such that any student who wishes to disrobe in greater

privacy from other students could do so.

91. Zelda asked Defendant Stephens if she could dress out in the staff

bathroom, since the nurse’s bathroom was across campus, to which Stephens

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responded “No ma’am,” before quickly correcting herself and saying “No

sir.”

92. Since she was not permitted access to the female locker room with the

rest of the females in her class, Zelda had to leave the gym and walk across

campus to her hallway locker where her clothing was kept, and then to the

nurse’s bathroom in order to change for her required Physical Education

class.

93. On or around February 15, 2016, Ms. Hardt accompanied Zelda to

Defendant Principal Balentine’s office to report Defendant Stephens for

harassment. Defendant Principal indicated that she was going to “talk” to

Defendant Stephens about the situation.

94. On or around February 24, 2016, Zelda again met Defendant

Principal Balentine to ask if she could dress out for Physical Education class

in the females’ locker room, or at least in the staff bathroom, , to avoid being

late to class. Zelda also asked if she could keep her Physical Education

clothes in Defendant Stephens’s office at the gym. However, Defendant

Principal Balentine refused to allow any accommodations for Zelda.

95. Contrary to Defendant Board’s Title IX policies, Zelda never received

any update or other communication from the report she made to Defendant

Principal regarding Defendant Stephens. However, the harassment and

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discrimination from Defendant Stephens and other Defendant Teachers

continued and, in fact, escalated.

96. On February 26, 2016, the females’ Physical Education class did not

dress out; however, Zelda was not informed. After changing in the nurse’s

bathroom across campus, Zelda reported to Physical Education class in her

Physical Education clothes. Her classmates remained in their regular clothes

for that class period. Zelda was required to go back across campus to

change in the nurse’s bathroom, resulting in Zelda being late returning to

class. Defendant Stephens, although aware of the situation and knowing she

failed to inform Zelda not to dress out for Physical Education class, deducted

points from her grade. This happened several additional times throughout

the semester.

97. Having to use the nurse’s restroom to change for Physical Education

class made Zelda feel humiliated, embarrassed, and alienated from other

students.

98. Zelda expressed to Defendant Stephens her concerns and fears about

dressing in the boys’ restroom given the threats of violence and intimidation

the previous semester. She also explained that because her only viable

option for dressing out was by accessing the nurse’s bathroom across

campus, she was frequently late to class, causing her grade to suffer.

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Defendant Stephens again refused to provide any accommodation. Because

of the stigma and impracticality of changing for Physical Education class in

the nurse’s bathroom across campus, Zelda ultimately had to stop dressing

out for Physical Education.

99. In addition, Defendant Stephens would only refer to Zelda by her dead

name, male pronouns, or “sir.” In fact, on those few occasions that

Defendant Stephens called Zelda by her correct name or used the correct

pronoun, Defendant Stephens would “correct” herself by reasserting Zelda’s

dead name and/or male pronouns. Stephens point-blank told Zelda that she

refused to call her Zelda because “your name is Russell.”5 In making these

statements, Defendant Stephens acknowledged that she was willing to call

students by chosen, or preferred, names, but refused to call Zelda by her

chosen name based on illegal sex-based discrimination and/or discrimination

against perceived gender non-conformity.

100. One day during the spring semester 2016 at the end of Physical

Education class, Defendant Stephens instructed the class to enter the

females’ locker room from an outside entrance to the school, but refused to

allow Zelda to enter the locker room, instead instructing her to go around the

5
Russell” was also a chosen name (middle name), as the full name Zelda was
given at birth was James Russell Menefee.

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school to another outside door, where someone inside the gym was supposed

to let her back in.

101. Defendant Stephens failed to let Zelda back inside, so she had to walk

all the way around campus in order to enter the school, causing Zelda to be

late for her next class.

102. Zelda, accompanied by Mrs. Hardt, reported the issue to Defendant

Principal Balentine, who again failed to take any action to stop this blatant

bullying and discrimination, in violation of Board policy and federal law.

103. The bullying and harassment had increased to the extent that Zelda

reported that, not only was Defendant Stephens “not making any

accommodations,” but she “appeared to be going out of her way to bring

negative attention to Zelda.”

104. On March 2, 2016, Zelda submitted a written bullying/harassment

complaint against Defendant Stephens. The complaint indicated that

Stephens had harassed Zelda by “teasing, name-calling, making critical

remarks, or threatening, in person or by other means,” “making rude and/or

threatening gestures,” and “excluding or rejecting the student” based solely

on Zelda’s gender identity and/or perceived gender non-conformity. Zelda

also indicated on her complaint that Mrs. Stephens referred to her daily

using male pronouns and using her dead name. Zelda also indicated that she

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had reported this conduct to Mrs. Hardt on previous occasions, which

seemed to cause the bullying to get worse instead of better. However,

contrary to Defendant Board’s Title IX policies, Zelda never received any

update or other communication from Defendant Board, Defendant

Wellington, or Defendant Principals from the report she made regarding

Defendant Stephens. The harassment and discrimination from Defendant

Teachers continued.

F. Other Reports of Discrimination and Bullying to Faculty


and Administration That Went Totally Ignored

105. In February 2016, with Zelda’s complaints going ignored by

Defendants, Free to Be, an organization that provides transgender minors

with counseling services, contacted Defendant Wellington, as the Title IX

compliance director, with a page-long list of acts of discrimination and

bullying that Zelda had suffered. Defendant Wellington, on actual notice of

these complaints, took no action, but only advised that a Parent Concern

Form could be filled out. Defendant Wellington failed to contact Zelda’s

parents or take any further action regarding the multiple incidences of

discrimination and bullying that Free to Be had reported directly to her.

Defendant Wellington’s inaction is a direct violation of Title IX and school

policy.

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106. On March 10, 2016, Zelda filed another bullying/harassment

complaint as provided for in the Title IX and school policy against a student,

stating that a student had harassed her, taunted her, made fun of her, verbally

abused her, and called her by male pronouns and her dead name.

107. On or around March 14, 2016, Zelda again met with Defendant

Principal Balentine about the discrimination and harassment and to follow

up on her prior written reports. Upon information and belief, the Defendants

did not undertake any investigation, implement any discipline, create any

Title IX report, or take any action as a result of any of Zelda’s complaints

(whether written or verbal) in violation of Board policy and federal law.

108. Defendant Principals, Defendant Board, or Defendant Wellington

never contacted Zelda for follow-up. Defendants likewise failed to notify

Zelda’s mother of the constant bullying, discrimination, and harassment at

school, even after being put on notice of the violence Zelda had suffered and

Zelda’s severe emotional distress. There was no discipline to the offenders,

including the students and Defendant Teachers.

G. Report that Zelda Used Females’ Restroom Rigorously and


Immediately Investigated by Defendant Principal
Shingleton

109. In late April or early May of 2016, two students made a false report to

Defendant Shingleton that Zelda had used the females’ restroom. The

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Defendants immediately and thoroughly investigated this false allegation

while continuing to ignore Zelda’s repeated complaints of harassment and

assault.

110. Defendant Shingleton confronted Zelda regarding these allegations

almost immediately. Zelda begged Defendant Shingleton to check the

school’s electronic surveillance videos to confirm that the person that had

reported her was actually one of the students that had repeatedly bullied her.

111. Zelda was so upset about this allegation and Defendant Shingleton’s

confrontation of her—especially since her many serious complaints had

gone totally ignored—that she did not return to school for several days

thereafter.

H. Zelda Quits School

112. Zelda missed school on May 9, 2016 due to the threats, violence,

bullying, and persistent acts of discrimination she faced on a daily basis at

Grissom High School.

113. On May 12, 2016, Zelda quit school. On her Student Exit Interview

form based on Senate Bill 334, Alabama Act 2009-564, she stated as the

reason for quitting school “Dislike of School Experience.”

114. Although Defendant Board was aware that Zelda was forced to quit

school after one (1) year because of the widespread harassment, bullying,

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and discrimination, Defendant Board, Defendant Wellington, and Defendant

Principals never attempted to contact Zelda or her parents, did not do any

further investigation to prevent further occurrences of harassment and

discrimination by other students, and did not take any action to deter the

offenders from future harassment and discrimination, even though it clearly

resulted in a child feeling unsafe and unwelcome at school, eventually

depriving that child of access to a public education altogether.

COUNT I—TITLE IX (20 U.S.C. § 1681 ET SEQ.)


AGAINST DEFENDANT BOARD

115. Title IX provides that no person in the United States shall, on the

basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or

be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity

receiving Federal financial assistance.

116. Defendant Board is the recipient of federal financial assistance from

the United States Department of Education, and therefore subject to Title IX.

117. Title IX liability arises when a school district official is an appropriate

person with the authority to take corrective measures in response to

sufficient or actual notice of sexual harassment responds thereto with

deliberate indifference and unreasonably in light of the known

circumstances.

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118. The Eleventh Circuit has noted that “sex discrimination includes

discrimination against a transgender person for gender nonconformity.”

Chavez v. Credit Nation Auto Sales, LLC, 641 F. App’x 883, 884 (11th Cir.

2016) (unpub.) (emphasis added).

119. As the Eleventh Circuit has recognized, a school entity may be liable

under Title IX when the school entity is deliberately indifferent in response

to a single incident of student sexual harassment. See Hill v. Cundiff, 797

F.3d 948, 973-974 (11th Cir. 2015); Williams v. Bd. of Regents, 477 F.3d

1282, 1296-1297 (11th Cir. 2007).

120. Defendant Principals, as principals of Grissom High School, are

responsible for Grissom High School students when allegations of

discrimination, harassment, or bullying are alleged for Title IX liability.

121. At all relevant times, Defendant Principal Balentine was the highest

ranking school official at Grissom High School who was present every day.

She was the first line of responsibility for ensuring that the students in her

school are safe. As such, she is an “appropriate person” under Title IX. See

Hill v. Cundiff, 797 F.3d 948, 971 (11th Cir. 2015). Although there is more

than one (1) assistant principal at Grissom High School, Defendant Cohn

was the assistant principal assigned to Zelda’s grade level and Defendant

Shingleton was on actual notice of at least two (2) instances of bullying that

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he was legally required to report and/or investigate, as described at length

herein.

122. Defendant Principals were on actual notice of the sexual harassment

and discrimination Zelda endured on a regular basis, including, but not

limited to: other students making crass, transphobic, and disparaging

remarks in the presence of Defendant Teachers about Zelda’s gender identity

or perceived gender non-conformity; other students subjecting Zelda to

violence and physical intimidation in the presence of Defendant Teachers or

Defendant Shingleton on numerous occasions as detailed herein; Defendant

Stephens consistently bullying and harassing Zelda; other students’

harassment causing Zelda to feel unsafe and uncomfortable using the boys’

facilities with no other reasonable alternative or accommodations; Defendant

Stephens, Defendant DesRosier, Defendant Shingleton, Defendant Staley,

and other students’ consistent refusal to call Zelda by her chosen name and

pronouns; and Defendant Principals and Defendant Wellington’s refusal to

report, investigate, or discipline to stop the harassment, discrimination, and

bullying and prevent future occurrences—resulting in Zelda leaving Grissom

High School.

123. Defendant Board, through both Defendant Principals and Defendant

Wellington, was on actual notice of the sexual harassment and

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discrimination Zelda endured on a regular basis, including, but not limited

to: other students making crass, transphobic, and disparaging remarks in the

presence of Defendant Teachers about Zelda’s gender identity or perceived

gender non-conformity; other students subjecting Zelda to violence and

physical intimidation in the presence of Defendant Teachers or Defendant

Shingleton on numerous occasions as detailed herein; Defendant Stephens

consistently bullying and harassing Zelda; other students’ harassment

causing Zelda to being made to feel unsafe and uncomfortable using the

boys’ facilities with no other reasonable alternative or accommodations;

Defendant Stephens, Defendant DesRosier, Defendant Shingleton,

Defendant Staley, and other students’ consistent refusal to call Zelda by her

chosen name and pronouns; and Defendant Principals and Defendant

Wellington’s refusal to report, investigate, or discipline to stop the

harassment, discrimination, and bullying and prevent future occurrences—

resulting in Zelda leaving Grissom High School.

124. The discrimination, harassment, and bullying Zelda endured is

discrimination based on sex, gender, gender identity, transgender status,

non-conformity to sex or gender-based stereotypes, as well as transgender

status alone (hereinafter collectively referred to as “gender-based

discrimination”).

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125. This harassment created a hostile environment for Zelda and caused

her to miss out on educational opportunities. To wit—a) she failed Physical

Education class due to lack of participation resulting from this harassment;

b) as she was forced to use the nurse’s bathroom, which was across campus

from many of her classes, she was frequently late to class; c) she missed

many days of school due to the anxiety and stress that resulted from said

gender-based discrimination from other students and Defendant Teachers

and Defendant Board’s failure to take appropriate action to address the

harassment and deter future occurrences; and finally d) she ultimately quit

school altogether in May 2016, never having an opportunity to experience a

harassment-free education.

126. Defendant Board acted with deliberate indifference to its actual notice

of the harassment, bullying, and discrimination.

127. Because of Defendant Board’s deliberate indifference, Zelda was

deprived of educational opportunities—the right to attend public school on a

daily basis without the fear, embarrassment, and stress of constant

harassment and discrimination, as well as physical and emotional harm—

which ultimately led to Zelda’s withdrawal from school.

128. Defendant Board further denied Zelda’s educational opportunities due

to their refusal to make reasonable accommodations for her in Physical

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Education class, ultimately causing her to fail the class because she did not

have access to a safe space to dress out.

129. Defendant Board is liable under Title IX for failing to promptly and

equitably resolve Zelda’s complaints of gender-based discrimination.

130. Defendant Board is liable under Title IX for failing to address and

take action against the gender-based discrimination described herein that

created a hostile environment for Zelda.

131. Defendant Board is liable under Title IX for failing to take steps

reasonably calculated to address gender-based discrimination that created a

hostile environment for Zelda.

132. Defendant Board is liable under Title IX for ostracizing Zelda and

allowing the other Defendants to discriminate against Zelda based on gender

and sex stereotyping.

133. Under Defendant Board’s discriminatory policy, non-transgender

students are able to access restrooms and other single-sex facilities

consistent with their gender identity, but transgender students are banned

from single-sex facilities consistent with their gender identity.

134. By banning Zelda from access and use of single-sex facilities that are

consistent with her gender identity, Defendant Board excluded Zelda from

participation in, denied her the benefits of, and subjected her to

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discrimination in educational programs and activities within the District on

the basis of sex, in violation of Title IX. For example, the Defendants

forcing Zelda to use the nurse’s restroom as described herein meant that

Zelda sometimes had to miss classroom time simply to relieve herself, and

struggled to concentrate on the teacher’s material due to attempting to hold

her bladder so as not to miss instruction time.

135. Defendant Board’s discriminatory exclusion of Zelda from the

women’s restroom and locker room because she is transgender harmed

Zelda by stigmatizing her and treating her as lesser than other girls, which

caused Zelda to experience emotional distress, anxiety, embarrassment,

humiliation, and pain and anguish.

136. Due to Defendant Board’s negligent, reckless and/or wanton breach

of the duty it owed Zelda pursuant to 20 U.S.C. § 1681, Zelda suffered

emotional distress, anxiety, embarrassment, humiliation, pain, and anguish,

culminating in her leaving high school altogether and being denied the

ability to attend public school.

137. Zelda seeks compensatory damages, punitive damages, attorney fees,

costs, and any other relief available under Federal law.

COUNT II: FIRST AMENDMENT – SUPPRESSION OF ZELDA’S


RIGHT TO FREE SPEECH AND EXPRESSION

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AGAINST DEFENDANT BOARD, DEFENDANT PRINCIPALS,


DEFENDANT TEACHERS, AND DEFENDANT
SUPERINTENDENT

138. Each of the paragraphs of this Complaint is incorporated as if fully

restated herein.

139. Expression of one’s gender identity, including wearing clothing that is

consistent with one’s gender identity, is protected speech under the First

Amendment.

140. Likewise, a person’s requests to be referred to by the name of his or

her preference is also protected speech under the First Amendment.

141. Defendant Board, Defendant Principals, and Defendant

Superintendent actively suppressed Zelda’s First Amendment rights of free

speech and expression by refusing to allow her to dress in clothing

consistent with the Defendant Board’s handbook for female students.

142. Defendant Teachers actively suppressed Zelda’s First Amendment

rights of free speech and expression by reporting her and harassing her for

her clothing, which was within dress code, ultimately leading to Zelda being

told to change clothes, causing her to miss class.

143. Defendant Teachers actively suppressed Zelda’s First Amendment

rights of free speech and expression by refusing to allow her to be called by

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the name of her choosing, although they allowed other students to be called

by their chosen name, or even chosen nicknames.

144. Defendant Principals, as the highest ranking officials at Grissom High

School, adopted and enforced policies which were discriminatory in nature

by treating Zelda differently than other females by: refusing to allow her to

dress in feminine clothing within dress code; refusing to allow her access to

the female facilities consistent with her expression of her gender identity or

a reasonable accommodation; refusing to allow her to appear in the yearbook

under her chosen name or as a female at all; and refusing to recognize her by

her chosen name and accompanying female pronouns.

145. Defendant Principals and Defendant Teachers ignored and/or refused

Zelda’s requests to be recognized and allowed to identify as female,

including by her name, her clothing, and her activities, violating her

constitutional rights of freedom of expression.

146. Defendant Principals and Defendant Teachers refused Zelda’s

requests to be identified as a female and recognized by her chosen name in

the yearbook, even though other students were identified by their chosen

names in the same yearbook, violating her constitutional rights of freedom

of expression.

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147. Defendant Stephens, Defendant DesRosier, Defendant Lawson,

Defendant Staley, and Defendant Shingleton persistently and consistently

refused to acknowledge Zelda’s chosen name and instead referred to her

only as “Russ,” “James Russell,” or “sir” in an overt attempt to subvert

Zelda’s constitutional right to freedom of expression, although they

routinely called other students whose gender they agreed with by their

chosen names.

148. As a direct result of Defendants’ conduct, Plaintiff has suffered

emotional distress so severe that no reasonable person could be expected to

endure it.

149. Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages, punitive damages, attorney

fees, costs, and any other relief available under Federal law.

COUNT III: SECTION 1983 FIRST AMENDMENT RETALIATION


AGAINST DEFENDANT PRINCIPALS AND DEFENDANT
TEACHERS

150. Each of the paragraphs of this Complaint is incorporated as if fully

restated herein.

151. Expression of one’s gender identity, including wearing clothing that is

consistent with one’s gender identity, is protected speech under the First

Amendment.

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152. Likewise, a person’s requests to be referred to by the name of his or

her preference is also protected speech under the First Amendment.

153. Defendant Principals and Defendant Teachers publically contested

and retaliated against Zelda for identifying as a female, which was contrary

to the Defendants’ own personal beliefs, and allowed their personal beliefs

to interfere with their duties as reporters, investigators, and protectors of

Zelda.

154. Defendant Principals, as the highest ranking officials at Grissom High

School, adopted and enforced policies which were discriminatory in nature.

The policies had the effect of degrading and demeaning Zelda and treating

her differently than other females by: refusing to allow her to wear feminine

clothing within dress code; refusing to allow her access to the female

facilities or a reasonable accommodation; refusing to allow her to appear in

the yearbook under her chosen name; and refusing to recognize her by her

chosen name and chosen pronouns. Defendant Principals retaliated against

Zelda because her constitutionally protected speech and expressions were

not in conformity with the Defendant Principals’ own beliefs.

155. Defendant Principals and Defendant Teachers ignored and/or refused

Zelda’s requests to be recognized and addressed as female—including by

her name, her clothing, and her activities—in retaliation for Zelda’s

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constitutionally protected speech and expressions because they were not in

conformity with the Defendants’ own beliefs.

156. Defendant Principals and Defendant Teachers refused Zelda’s

requests to be recognized as a female and recognized by her chosen name in

the yearbook in retaliation for Zelda’s constitutionally protected speech and

expressions, even though other students were identified by their preferred

names or nicknames in the same yearbook.

157. Defendant Stephens, Defendant DesRosier, Defendant Lawson, and

Defendant Shingleton persistently and consistently refused to acknowledge

Zelda’s chosen name and instead referred to her only as “Russ,” “James

Russell,” or “sir” in an overt and deliberate attempt to subvert Zelda’s

constitutional right to freedom of expression and in retaliation for Zelda’s

protected speech and expressions, although they referred to other students by

any name they preferred as long as the student was not transgender,

158. In retaliation for Zelda’s protected speech and expressions, Defendant

Moran allowed others to threaten, harass, discriminate against, and bully

Zelda in his presence without reporting this conduct as required by Board

policy and federal law and without consequence to the perpetrators.

159. Defendant Moran retaliated against Zelda and attempted to suppress

her freedom of expression by refusing to allow her access to the female’s

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locker room and forcing her to instead change clothes for Physical Education

in the male’s locker room.

160. Defendant Moran also gave Zelda a failing Physical Education grade

without warning when she tried to escape the bullying and harassment, in

retaliation for her constitutionally protected speech.

161. Defendant Stephens refused Zelda access to female facilities, refused

to provide reasonable accommodations for her, harassed her by calling her a

male and calling her only by her dead name, locked Zelda out of the building

during class while allowing all other students to go in through the female

locker room, refused to give Zelda instructions as to when she was not

supposed to dress out, and gave Zelda a failing grade, all in retaliation for

Zelda’s protected speech and expressions.

162. In retaliation for Zelda’s protected speech and expressions, Defendant

Shingleton allowed others to threaten, harass, discriminate against, and bully

Zelda in his presence without reporting as required by Board policy and

federal law and without consequence to the perpetrators.

163. In retaliation for Zelda’s protected speech and expressions, Defendant

Langford allowed others to threaten, harass, discriminate against, and bully

Zelda in her presence without reporting as required by Board policy and

federal law and without consequence to the perpetrators.

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164. Defendant Langford allowed others to harass and discriminate against

Zelda by refusing to intervene regarding the yearbook when Zelda reported

to that the yearbook photographer had attacked her protected identification

and expressions.

165. In retaliation for Zelda’s protected speech and expressions, Defendant

DesRosier harassed Zelda by deliberately calling her by her dead name and

referring to her by only male pronouns every single day during roll call,

even after Zelda corrected her. Despite being put on actual notice of Zelda’s

gender and female association, Defendant DesRosier refused to refer to

Zelda by her name or female pronouns, further suppressing Zelda’s

Constitutional rights.

166. In retaliation for Zelda’s protected speech and expressions, Defendant

Staley harassed Zelda by deliberately calling her by her dead name and

referring to her by only male pronouns, even after Zelda corrected her.

Despite being put on actual notice of Zelda’s gender identity and female

association, Defendant Staley refused to refer to Zelda by her name or

female pronouns, further suppressing Zelda’s Constitutional rights.

167. These actions were so adverse that they would chill a person of

ordinary firmness from continuing in the activity and likewise, these actions

ultimately chilled Zelda from attending school altogether.

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168. Due to the listed Defendants’ actions in retaliation for Zelda’s

constitutionally protected speech expression, Zelda suffered emotional

distress, anxiety, embarrassment, humiliation, pain, and anguish,

culminating in her being forced out of school and being denied the ability to

attend public school.

169. The motivation for Defendants’ adverse actions as described herein

was the furtherance of Defendants’ own personal beliefs at the expense of

Zelda’s constitutionally protected speech and activity, and there is a direct

causal connection between the Defendants’ retaliatory animus and Zelda’s

injuries.

170. Zelda seeks compensatory damages, punitive damages, attorney fees,

costs, and any other relief available under Federal law.

COUNT IV: SUBSTANTIVE DUE PROCESS CLAUSE AND EQUAL


PROTECTION CLAUSE OF THE FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT,
AND 42 U.S.C. § 1983 – AGAINST DEFENDANT PRINCIPALS AND
DEFENDANT WELLINGTON FOR FAILURE TO TRAIN,
SUPERVISE & DISCIPLINE RESULTING IN WIDESPREAD AND
NOTORIOUS DISCRIMINATION

171. Each of the paragraphs of this Complaint is incorporated as if fully

restated herein.

172. Defendants were acting under color of state law for purposes of 42

U.S.C. § 1983.

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173. The Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, enforceable

pursuant to 42 U.S. C. § 1983, provides that no state shall deny to any

person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

174. Defendant Principals, as principal of Grissom High School, were

responsible for Grissom High School students when allegations of

discrimination, harassment, or bullying are alleged by or against any student,

teacher, or other faculty member under Defendant Principal’s supervision.

175. Grissom High School has one (1) head Principal and more than one

(1) assistant principal, all of which are the highest ranking school officials at

Grissom and have supervisory roles.

176. Defendant Principals were the highest ranking school officials at

Grissom High School who were present every day and were responsible for:

supervision of the school to ensure that the students in their school are safe

and protected against discrimination; disciplining instances of bullying,

harassment, and discrimination to ensure that the students in their school are

safe and protected; and training employees and students in school regarding

reporting and investigation of instances of discrimination to ensure that the

students in their school are safe and protected against discrimination.

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177. Defendant Wellington, as the Title IX Coordinator, is required to train

teachers and students on discrimination and reporting acts of discrimination,

and is required to investigate reports of discrimination.

178. Defendant Principals were on actual notice of the sexual harassment

and discrimination Zelda endured on a regular basis, including, but not

limited to: other students making crass, transphobic, and disparaging

remarks in the presence of Defendant Teachers about Zelda’s gender identity

or perceived gender non-conformity; other students subjecting Zelda to

violence and physical intimidation in the presence of Defendant Teachers or

Defendant Shingleton on numerous occasions as detailed herein; Defendant

Stephens consistently bullying and harassing Zelda; other students’

harassment causing Zelda to being made to feel unsafe and uncomfortable

using the boys’ facilities with no other reasonable alternative or

accommodations; Defendant Stephens, Defendant DesRosier, Defendant

Shingleton, Defendant Staley, and other students’ consistent refusal to call

Zelda by her chosen name and pronouns; and Defendant Principals and

Defendant Wellington’s refusal to report, investigate, or discipline to stop

the harassment, discrimination, and bullying and prevent future

occurrences—resulting in Zelda leaving Grissom High School.

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179. Defendant Principals and Defendant Wellington failed and refused to

train students on the proper method for reporting incidents of discrimination.

180. Defendant Principals and Defendant Wellington failed and refused to

train employees, including Defendant Teachers, on the proper method for

the mandatory reporting of incidents of discrimination to Defendant

Principals and Defendant Wellington.

181. The discrimination Zelda endured is gender-based discrimination.

Under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment,

discrimination based on gender is presumptively unconstitutional and

subject to heightened scrutiny.

182. In addition, transgender status is also independently subject to

heightened scrutiny under the Equal Protection Clause because: (a)

Transgender people have historically been subject to discrimination; (b)

Transgender people as a class have a defining characteristic that frequently

bears no relation to an ability to perform or contribute to society; (c)

Transgender people as a class exhibit immutable or distinguishing

characteristics that define them as a discrete group; and (d) Transgender

people as a class are a minority with relatively little political power.

183. Zelda had the constitutional right to be free from gender-based

discrimination.

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184. Defendant Principals and Defendant Wellington had a duty to train

their employees and students on discrimination, train their employees and

students on reporting incidents of discrimination, supervise their employees

to ensure they were not participating in discrimination, and to discipline

employees and students who participated in discrimination.

185. By failing to take remedial measures or make accommodations due to

their own personal beliefs regarding Zelda’s constitutionally-protected

behavior, Defendant Principals and Defendant Wellington allowed the

discrimination against Zelda at Grissom High School to become widespread,

open, and notorious.

186. This discrimination created a hostile environment for Zelda and

caused her to miss out on educational opportunities. To wit: she failed

Physical Education class due to lack of participation resulting from this

discrimination, the Defendants cancelled the beauty pageant when Zelda

signed up so that she could not participate, and she missed many days of

school due to the anxiety and stress that resulted from said gender-based

discrimination and Defendant Board’s failure to take appropriate action,

ultimately causing her to quit school altogether in May 2016.

187. Despite being on actual notice of the discrimination, Defendant

Principals, Defendant Wellington, and Defendant Superintendent acted with

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deliberate indifference by allowing the discriminatory behavior to become so

widespread that it became an official policy to refuse to treat Zelda as a

female by: refusing to allow her to dress in feminine clothing that complied

with the dress code; refusing to allow her access to the female restroom;

refusing to allow her access to female facilities or otherwise provide

reasonable accommodations; and by refusing to correct, remediate, or

otherwise address the behavior of the Defendant Teachers who participated

in the harassment of Zelda by calling her a male and referring to her only by

her dead name and by male pronouns.

188. Because of Defendant Principals’ and Defendant Wellington’s

deliberate indifference and adoption of discriminatory policies, Zelda was

deprived of educational opportunities—the right to attend public school on a

daily basis without the fear of emotional/physical harm, embarrassment, and

stress of the discrimination—which ultimately led to Zelda’s withdrawal

from school.

189. Defendant Superintendent, Defendant Principals, Defendant

Wellington, as well as Defendant Board’s administrators and staff further

denied Zelda educational opportunities that they otherwise provided to

similarly situated non-transgender students by not allowing Zelda to

participate in Physical Education class with the other female students. As

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she was required to participate in the men’s Physical Education class and

dress out in the men’s locker room, she feared for her physical safety and

wellbeing. Zelda was ultimately set up to fail the class, as she was required

to dress for class but was denied access to a safe environment in which to

do so.

190. Defendant Board, Defendant Superintendent, Defendant Principals,

and Defendant Wellington are liable under 42 U.S.C. 1983 for

discrimination in failing to investigate or resolve Zelda’s complaints of

gender-based discrimination as they otherwise investigated and/or resolved

complaints for similarly situated, non-transgender students.

191. Defendant Board, Defendant Superintendent, Defendant Principals,

and Defendant Wellington are liable under 42 U.S.C. 1983 for failing to

assess whether the gender-based discrimination described herein created a

hostile environment for Zelda as they otherwise assessed for similarly

situated, non-transgender students.

192. Defendant Board, Defendant Superintendent, Defendant Principals,

and Defendant Wellington are liable under 42 U.S.C. 1983 for failing to take

steps—as they otherwise took for similarly situated, non-transgender

students—reasonably calculated to address gender-based discrimination that

created a widespread hostile environment for Zelda.

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193. Defendant Board, Defendant Superintendent, Defendant Principals,

and Defendant Wellington are liable under 42 U.S.C. 1983 for treating Zelda

differently and allowing the other Defendants to treat Zelda differently based

on gender and sex stereotyping, creating a widespread pattern that allowed

for the adoption of an official policy of discriminating against transgender

students such as Zelda.

194. Due to the listed Defendants’ behavior and actions as described

herein, Zelda suffered emotional distress, anxiety, embarrassment,

humiliation, pain, and anguish, culminating in her leaving high school

altogether and being denied the ability to attend public school.

195. Zelda seeks compensatory damages, punitive damages, attorney fees,

costs, and any other relief available under Federal law.

COUNT V: VIOLATION OF 42 U.S.C § 1983 – FAILURE TO


SUPERVISE AND TRAIN CAUSING VIOLATIONS OF
SUBSTANTIVE DUE PROCESS CLAUSE AND EQUAL
PROTECTION CLAUSE OF FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT –
AGAINST DEFENDANT BOARD

196. Each of the paragraphs of this Complaint is incorporated as if fully

restated herein.

197. Defendant Superintendent, Defendant Principals, and Defendant

Wellington were required to train and supervise on discrimination.

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198. Defendant Board, Defendant Superintendent, Defendant Principals,

and Defendant Wellington were required to train and supervise on Title IX

requirements.

199. Defendant Board, Defendant Superintendent, Defendant Principals,

and Defendant Wellington were required to train students on harassment,

bullying, and discrimination.

200. Defendant Board, Defendant Superintendent, Defendant Principals,

and Defendant Wellington were required to train and supervise teachers and

staff on taking the appropriate actions when bullying, harassment, and/or

discrimination is reported or observed.

201. Defendant Principals and Defendant Wellington were on actual notice

of the sexual harassment and discrimination Zelda endured on a regular

basis, including, but not limited to: other students making crass, transphobic,

and disparaging remarks in the presence of Defendant Teachers about

Zelda’s gender identity or perceived gender non-conformity; other students

subjecting Zelda to violence and physical intimidation in the presence of

Defendant Teachers or Defendant Shingleton on numerous occasions as

detailed herein; Defendant Stephens consistently bullying and harassing

Zelda; other students’ harassment causing Zelda to being made to feel unsafe

and uncomfortable using the boys’ facilities with no other reasonable

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alternative or accommodations; Defendant Stephens, Defendant DesRosier,

Defendant Shingleton, Defendant Staley, and other students’ consistent

refusal to call Zelda by her chosen name and pronouns; and Defendant

Principals and Defendant Wellington’s refusal to report, investigate, or

discipline to stop the harassment, discrimination, and bullying and prevent

future occurrences—resulting in Zelda leaving Grissom High School.

202. Defendant Board, through both Defendant Principals and Defendant

Wellington, was on actual notice of the sexual harassment and

discrimination Zelda endured on a regular basis, including, but not limited

to: other students making crass, transphobic, and disparaging remarks in the

presence of Defendant Teachers about Zelda’s gender identity or perceived

gender non-conformity; other students subjecting Zelda to violence and

physical intimidation in the presence of Defendant Teachers or Defendant

Shingleton on numerous occasions as detailed herein; Defendant Stephens

consistently bullying and harassing Zelda; other students’ harassment

causing Zelda to being made to feel unsafe and uncomfortable using the

boys’ facilities with no other reasonable alternative or accommodations;

Defendant Stephens, Defendant DesRosier, Defendant Shingleton,

Defendant Staley, and other students’ consistent refusal to call Zelda by her

chosen name and pronouns; and Defendant Principals and Defendant

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Wellington’s refusal to report, investigate, or discipline to stop the

harassment, discrimination, and bullying and prevent future occurrences—

resulting in Zelda leaving Grissom High School.

203. Defendant Board, Defendant Principals, Defendant Superintendent,

and Defendant Wellington established a widespread pattern and official

policy of discrimination against transgender students at Grissom High

School by—despite being on actual notice of the students’ and Defendant

Teachers’ aforementioned unconstitutional actions—failing to train

Defendant Principals and Defendant Teachers regarding procedures and

policies for addressing sex-based discrimination, harassment, bullying, and

threats, as well as by failing to supervise Defendant Principals and

Defendant Teachers to ensure said policies were being followed.

204. As a direct result of Defendants’ failure to train and supervise its

employees as explained hereinabove, Zelda suffered emotional distress,

anxiety, embarrassment, humiliation, pain, and anguish, culminating her in

leaving high school altogether and being denied the ability to attend public

school.

205. Zelda seeks compensatory damages, punitive damages, attorney fees,

costs, and any other relief available under Federal law.

COUNT VI: VIOLATION OF 42 U.S.C. § 1983

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AGAINST PRINCIPAL BALENTINE IN HER INDIVIDUAL AND


OFFICIAL CAPACITIES

206. Each of the paragraphs of this Complaint is incorporated as if

fully restated herein.

207. Defendant Principal had actual knowledge of the discrimination

Zelda experienced, but failed and refused to take any action to address it.

208. Defendant Principal was put on direct notice of the

discrimination Zelda experienced on several occasions, but failed and

refused to take action.

209. In violating Zelda’s protected rights to free speech and

expression under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution,

Defendant Principal acted under the color of state law.

210. In violating Zelda’s protected rights under the Substantive Due

Process and Equal Protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to

the United States Constitution, Defendant Principal acted under the color

of state law.

211. The effect of the discrimination, bullying, and harassment, and

the failure to remedy the discrimination, bullying, and harassment as

outlined above, has deprived Zelda of her statutory and constitutional

rights under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution,

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Substantive Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the

Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, and Title IX.

212. Defendant Principal was not only required to refrain from

personally violating Zelda’s clearly established constitutional rights, but

had also had the affirmative duty to intervene to prevent others from

violating Zelda’s constitutional rights if she observed Zelda’s rights

being violated. For the seventeen (17) months that Zelda was a student at

Grissom High School, Defendant Principal repeatedly witnessed other

students and Defendant Teachers under her direct supervision violating

Zelda’s constitutional rights and refused to take reasonable measures to

intervene, although she had the ability to do so.

213. Zelda has a constitutional right to be free from sexual

harassment and abuse in public schools.

214. Zelda has a constitutional right to freedom of speech and

expression in public schools.

215. Defendant Principal had actual and constructive knowledge and

knew or should have known about the discrimination, bullying, and

harassment.

216. Defendant Principal is an official (or appropriate person) whose

failure to take corrective action constitutes a policy or custom of

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Defendant Board, manifesting deliberate indifference and resulting in

violations of Zelda’s constitutional rights and injury to Zelda.

217. The inaction of Defendant Principal in response to Defendant

Coln, Defendant Shingleton, Defendant Teachers, and other third parties’

observed and reported discrimination, bullying, and harassment

amounted to a violation of Zelda’s right to Equal Protection under the

laws, resulting in injury to Zelda.

218. Defendant Principal is officially and individually liable under

42 U.S.C. § 1983 because a causal connection exists between her acts

and the violations of Zelda’s constitutional rights.

219. The Defendants’ discrimination, bullying and harassment of

Zelda—including Defendant Principals, Defendant Teachers, and

Defendant Wellington—was so pervasive and obvious as to put a

responsible supervising official on notice of the need to correct the abuse

and provide proper supervision and training, but Defendant Principal

failed to do so.

220. As noted above, Defendant Principal instituted or ratified

Defendant Board’s customs or policies, which manifested deliberate

indifference to Zelda’s constitutional rights, resulting in injury to Zelda.

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WHEREFORE, Plaintiff demands compensatory damages, punitive

damages, attorneys’ fees and costs pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1988, and such

other and further relief as this Court finds just and proper.

COUNTY VII: VIOLATION OF 42 U.S.C. § 1983


AGAINST ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL COLN IN HIS INDIVIDUAL
AND OFFICIAL CAPACITIES

221. Each of the paragraphs of this Complaint is incorporated as if fully

restated herein.

222. Defendant Coln had actual knowledge of the harassment, bullying,

and discrimination Zelda experienced, but failed and refused to take action

to address it.

223. Defendant Coln was put on direct notice of the harassment, bullying,

and discrimination Zelda experienced on several occasions, but failed and

refused to take action.

224. In violating Zelda’s protected rights to free speech and expression

under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, Defendant

Coln acted under the color of state law.

225. In violating Zelda’s protected rights under the Substantive Due

Process and Equal Protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the

United States Constitution, Defendant Coln acted under the color of state

law.

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226. The effect of the discrimination, bullying, and harassment, and the

failure to remedy the discrimination, bullying, and harassment, as outlined

above, has deprived Zelda of her statutory and constitutional rights under the

First Amendment to the United States Constitution, Substantive Due Process

Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the

United States Constitution, and Title IX.

227. Defendant Coln was not only required to refrain from personally

violating Zelda’s clearly established constitutional rights, but had also had

the affirmative duty to intervene to prevent others from violating Zelda’s

constitutional rights if he observed Zelda’s rights being violated. For the

seventeen (17) months that Zelda was a student at Grissom High School,

Defendant Principal repeatedly witnessed other students and Defendant

Teachers under his direct supervision violating Zelda’s constitutional rights

and refused to take reasonable measures to intervene, although he had the

ability to do so.

228. Zelda has a constitutional right to be free from sexual harassment and

abuse in public schools.

229. Zelda has a constitutional right to freedom of speech and expression

in public schools, including the right to express herself by wearing clothes

consistent with her gender identity, which constitutes protected speech.

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230. Defendant Coln had actual and constructive knowledge and knew or

should have known about the discrimination, bullying, and harassment.

231. Defendant Coln personally participated in the discrimination,

bullying, and harassment by singling Zelda out and forcing her to change

clothes based solely on his personal beliefs.

232. Defendant Coln is an official (or appropriate person) whose overt acts

and failure to take corrective action constitutes a policy or custom of

Defendant Board, manifesting deliberate indifference and resulting in

violations of Zelda’s constitutional rights and injury to Zelda.

233. The inaction of Defendant Coln in response to the Defendant Teachers

and other third parties’ observed and reported discrimination, bullying, and

harassment amounted to a violation of Zelda’s right to Equal Protection

resulting in injury to Zelda.

234. Defendant Coln is officially and individually liable under 42 U.S.C. §

1983 because a causal connection exists between his acts and the violations

of Zelda’s constitutional rights.

235. The Defendants’ discrimination, bullying and harassment of Zelda—

including Defendant Principals, Defendant Teachers, and Defendant

Wellington—was so pervasive and obvious as to put a responsible

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supervising official on notice of the need to correct the abuse and provide

proper supervision and training, but Defendant Coln failed to do so.

236. As noted above, Defendant Coln instituted or ratified Defendant

Board’s customs or policies, which manifested deliberate indifference to

Zelda’s constitutional rights, resulting in injury to Zelda.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff demands compensatory damages, punitive

damages, attorneys’ fees and costs pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1988, and such

other and further relief as this Court finds just and proper.

COUNT XIII: VIOLATION OF 42 U.S.C. § 1983


AGAINST DEFENDANT JAKE MORAN IN HIS INDIVIDUAL
AND OFFICIAL CAPACITIES

237. Each of the paragraphs of this Complaint is incorporated as if fully

restated herein.

238. Defendant Moran had actual knowledge of the harassment, bullying,

and discrimination Zelda experienced, but failed and refused to take action.

239. Defendant Moran was put on direct notice of the harassment, bullying,

and discrimination Zelda experienced on several occasions, but failed and

refused to take action.

240. In violating Zelda’s protected rights to free speech and expression

under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, Defendant

Moran acted under the color of state law.

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241. In violating Zelda’s protected rights under the Substantive Due

Process and Equal Protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the

United States Constitution, Defendant Moran acted under the color of state

law.

242. The effect of the discrimination, bullying, and harassment, and the

failure to remedy the discrimination, bullying, and harassment, as outlined

above, has deprived Zelda of her statutory and constitutional rights under the

First Amendment to the United States Constitution, Substantive Due Process

Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the

United States Constitution, and Title IX.

243. Defendant Moran personally observed and allowed students under his

direct supervision and control to: make Zelda the subject of crass and

disparaging remarks about Zelda’s gender identity and/or perceived gender

non-conformity; subject Zelda to violence and physical intimidation on

several occasions as listed above; harass and intimidate Zelda when she was

forced to use the boys’ facilities with no other reasonable alternative

provided or accommodations offered; and otherwise bully Zelda, resulting in

Zelda leaving Grissom High School.

244. Defendant Moran was not only required to refrain from personally

violating Zelda’s clearly established constitutional rights, but had also had

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the affirmative duty to intervene to prevent others from violating Zelda’s

constitutional rights if he observed Zelda’s rights being violated. For the

seventeen (17) months that Zelda was a student at Grissom High School,

Defendant Principal repeatedly witnessed other students and Defendant

Teachers under his direct supervision violating Zelda’s constitutional rights

and refused to take reasonable measures to intervene, although he had the

ability to do so.

245. Zelda has a constitutional right to be free from sexual harassment and

abuse in public schools.

246. Zelda has a constitutional right to freedom of speech and expression

in public schools.

247. Defendant Moran had actual and constructive knowledge and knew or

should have known about the discrimination, bullying, and harassment.

248. Defendant Moran personally participated in the discrimination,

bullying, and harassment by failing and refusing to intervene when third

party students were bullying, harassing, and threatening Zelda in his

presence.

249. The inaction of Defendant Moran in response to other third parties’

observed and reported discrimination, bullying, threats, and harassment

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amounted to a violation of Zelda’s right to Equal Protection, resulting in

injury to Zelda.

250. Defendant Moran is officially and individually liable under 42 U.S.C.

§ 1983 because a causal connection exists between his acts and the

violations of Zelda’s constitutional rights.

251. Defendant Moran, by allowing and condoning the bullying,

harassment, threats, and discrimination which took place in his presence, and

failing to intervene when said behavior took place in his presence or was

directly reported to him, allowed the bullying, discrimination, and

harassment to become widespread and accepted as a policy of Defendant

Board.

252. As noted above, Defendant Moran instituted or ratified Defendant

Board’s customs or policies, which manifested deliberate indifference to

Zelda’s constitutional rights and resulted in injury to Zelda.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff demands compensatory damages, punitive

damages, attorneys’ fees and costs pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1988, and such

other and further relief as this Court finds just and proper.

COUNT IX: VIOLATION OF 42 U.S.C. § 1983


AGAINST DEFENDANT CONNIE STEPHENS IN HER
INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITIES

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253. Each of the paragraphs of this Complaint is incorporated as if fully

restated herein.

254. Defendant Stephens had actual knowledge of the harassment,

bullying, and discrimination Zelda experienced, but failed and refused to

take action.

255. Defendant Stephens was put on direct notice of the harassment,

bullying, and discrimination Zelda experienced on several occasions, but

failed and refused to take action.

256. Defendant Stephens participated in violating Zelda’s statutory and

constitutional rights under the First Amendment to the United States

Constitution, Substantive Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection

Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, and

Title IX by refusing to refer to Zelda by her chosen name and referring to

her only by male pronouns and calling her “sir,” against Zelda’s wishes and

based on Defendant Stephens’ own personal beliefs.

257. Defendant Stephens participated in violating Zelda’s statutory and

constitutional rights under the First Amendment to the United States

Constitution, Substantive Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection

Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, and

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Title IX by refusing, based on her personal beliefs, to assign Zelda a gym

locker as she did all of her other non-transgender students.

258. Defendant Stephens participated in violating Zelda’s statutory and

constitutional rights under the First Amendment to the United States

Constitution, Substantive Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection

Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, and

Title IX by refusing, based on her own personal beliefs, Zelda’s access to the

female facilities (or reasonable accommodations) as she did all of her other

non-transgender students.

259. Defendant Stephens participated in violating Zelda’s statutory and

constitutional rights under the First Amendment to the United States

Constitution, Substantive Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection

Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, and

Title IX by refusing, based on her own personal beliefs, to treat Zelda with

dignity or allow her to fully participate in activities as she did all of her other

non-transgender students.

260. Defendant Stephens participated in violating Zelda’s statutory and

constitutional rights under the First Amendment to the United States

Constitution, Substantive Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection

Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, and

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Title IX by intentionally locking Zelda out of the gym building based on her

personal beliefs.

261. In violating Zelda’s protected rights to free speech and expression

under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, Defendant

Stephens acted under the color of state law.

262. In violating Zelda’s protected rights under the Substantive Due

Process and Equal Protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the

United States Constitution, Defendant Stephens acted under the color of

state law.

263. The effect of the discrimination, bullying, and harassment, and the

failure to remedy the discrimination, bullying, and harassment, as outlined

above, has deprived Zelda of her statutory and constitutional rights under the

First Amendment to the United States Constitution, Substantive Due Process

Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the

United States Constitution, and Title IX.

264. Zelda has a constitutional right to be free from sexual harassment and

abuse in public schools.

265. Zelda has a constitutional right to freedom of speech and expression

in public schools.

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266. Defendant Stephens had actual and constructive knowledge and knew

or should have known about the discrimination, bullying, and harassment.

267. The inaction of Defendant Stephens in response to other third parties’

observed and reported discrimination, bullying, threats, and harassment

amounted to a violation of Zelda’s right to Equal Protection, resulting in

injury to Zelda.

268. Defendant Stephens is officially and individually liable under 42

U.S.C. § 1983 because a causal connection exists between her acts and the

violations of Zelda’s constitutional rights.

269. Defendant Stephens, by allowing, condoning, and participating in the

bullying, harassment, and discrimination which took place in her presence,

and failing to intervene when said behavior took place in her presence or

was directly reported to her, allowed the bullying, discrimination, and

harassment to become widespread and accepted as a policy of Defendant

Board.

270. As noted above, Defendant Stephens instituted or ratified Defendant

Board’s customs or policies, which manifested deliberate indifference to

Zelda’s constitutional rights and resulted in injury to Zelda.

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WHEREFORE, Plaintiff demands compensatory damages, punitive

damages, attorneys’ fees and costs pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1988, and such

other and further relief as this Court finds just and proper.

COUNT X: VIOLATION OF 42 U.S.C. § 1983


AGAINST DEFENDANT DIANE STALEY IN HER INDIVIDUAL
AND OFFICIAL CAPACITIES

271. Each of the paragraphs of this Complaint is incorporated as if fully

restated herein.

272. Defendant Staley had actual knowledge of the harassment, bullying,

and discrimination Zelda experienced, but failed and refused to take action.

273. Defendant Staley was put on direct notice of the harassment, bullying,

and discrimination Zelda experienced on several occasions, but failed and

refused to take action.

274. In violating Zelda’s protected rights to free speech and expression

under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, Defendant

Staley acted under the color of state law.

275. In violating Zelda’s protected rights under the Substantive Due

Process and Equal Protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the

United States Constitution, Defendant Staley acted under the color of state

law.

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276. Defendant Staley participated in violating Zelda’s statutory and

constitutional rights under the First Amendment to the United States

Constitution, Substantive Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection

Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, and

Title IX by refusing to refer to Zelda by her chosen name and referring to

her only by male pronouns and calling her “sir,” against Zelda’s wishes and

based on her own personal beliefs.

277. Defendant Staley participated in violating Zelda’s statutory and

constitutional rights under the First Amendment to the United States

Constitution, Substantive Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection

Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, and

Title IX by refusing to intervene or report students when she personally

observed the students bullying Zelda in the school cafeteria based on

Defendant Staley’s personal beliefs.

278. Defendant Staley personally participated in the discrimination,

bullying, and harassment by failing and refusing to intervene when third

party students were bullying, harassing, and threatening Zelda in her

presence.

279. The effect of the discrimination, bullying, and harassment, and the

failure to remedy the discrimination, bullying, and harassment, as outlined

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above, has deprived Zelda of her statutory and constitutional rights under the

First Amendment to the United States Constitution, Substantive Due Process

Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the

United States Constitution, and Title IX.

280. Zelda has a constitutional right to be free from sexual harassment and

abuse in public schools.

281. Zelda has a constitutional right to freedom of speech and expression

in public schools.

282. Defendant Staley had actual and constructive knowledge and knew or

should have known about the discrimination, bullying, and harassment.

283. The inaction of Defendant Staley in response to other third parties’

observed and reported discrimination, bullying, threats, and harassment

amounted to a violation of Zelda’s right to Equal Protection, resulting in

injury to Zelda.

284. Defendant Staley is officially and individually liable under 42 U.S.C.

§ 1983 because a causal connection exists between her acts and the

violations of Zelda’s constitutional rights.

285. Defendant Staley, by allowing, condoning, and participating in the

bullying, harassment, threats, and discrimination against Zelda which took

place in her presence, and failing to intervene when said behavior took place

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in her presence or was directly reported to her, allowed the bullying,

discrimination, and harassment to become widespread and accepted as a

policy of Defendant Board.

286. As noted above, Defendant Staley instituted or ratified Defendant

Board’s customs or policies, which manifested deliberate indifference to

Zelda’s constitutional rights, resulting in injury to Zelda.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff demands compensatory damages, punitive

damages, attorneys’ fees and costs pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1988, and such

other and further relief as this Court finds just and proper.

COUNT XI: VIOLATION OF 42 U.S.C. § 1983


AGAINST DEFENDANT ALICIA DESROSIER IN HER
INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITIES

287. Each of the paragraphs of this Complaint is incorporated as if fully

restated herein.

288. Defendant DesRosier had actual knowledge of the harassment,

bullying, and discrimination Zelda experienced, but failed and refused to

take action to address it.

289. Defendant DesRosier was put on direct notice of the harassment,

bullying, and discrimination Zelda experienced on several occasions, but

failed and refused to take action.

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290. In violating Zelda’s protected rights to free speech and expression

under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, Defendant

DesRosier acted under the color of state law.

291. In violating Zelda’s protected rights under the Substantive Due

Process and Equal Protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the

United States Constitution, Defendant DesRosier acted under the color of

state law.

292. The effect of the discrimination, bullying, and harassment, and the

failure to remedy the discrimination, bullying, and harassment, as outlined

above, has deprived Zelda of her statutory and constitutional rights under the

First Amendment to the United States Constitution, Substantive Due Process

Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the

United States Constitution, and Title IX.

293. Zelda has a constitutional right to be free from sexual harassment and

abuse in public schools.

294. Zelda has a constitutional right to freedom of speech and expression

in public schools.

295. Defendant DesRosier had actual and constructive knowledge and

knew or should have known about the discrimination, bullying, and

harassment.

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296. Defendant DesRosier personally participated in the discrimination,

bullying, and harassment by failing and refusing to intervene when third

party students were bullying, harassing, and threatening Zelda in her

presence.

297. Defendant DesRosier participated in violating Zelda’s statutory and

constitutional rights under the First Amendment to the United States

Constitution, Substantive Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection

Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, and

Title IX by refusing to refer to Zelda by her chosen name and referring to

her only by male pronouns and calling her “sir,” against Zelda’s wishes and

based on her own personal beliefs and after repeated requests to stop.

298. The inaction of Defendant DesRosier in response to other third

parties’ observed and reported discrimination, bullying, threats, and

harassment amounted to a violation of Zelda’s right to Equal Protection

resulting in injury to Zelda.

299. Defendant DesRosier is officially and individually liable under 42

U.S.C. § 1983 because a causal connection exists between her acts and the

violations of Zelda’s constitutional rights.

300. Defendant DesRosier, by allowing, condoning, and participating in

the bullying, harassment, threats, and discrimination which took place in her

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presence, and failing to intervene when said behavior took place in her

presence or was directly reported to her, allowed the bullying,

discrimination, and harassment to become widespread and accepted as a

policy of Defendant Board.

301. As noted above, Defendant DesRosier instituted or ratified Defendant

Board’s customs or policies, which manifested deliberate indifference to

Zelda’s constitutional rights and resulted in injury to Zelda.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff demands compensatory damages, punitive

damages, attorneys’ fees and costs pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1988, and such

other and further relief as this Court finds just and proper.

COUNT XII: VIOLATION OF 42 U.S.C. § 1983


AGAINST DEFENDANT MAURICE SHINGLETON IN HIS
INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITIES

302. Each of the paragraphs of this Complaint is incorporated as if fully

restated herein.

303. Defendant Shingleton had actual knowledge of the harassment,

bullying, and discrimination Zelda experienced, but failed and refused to

take action to address it.

304. Defendant Shingleton was put on direct notice of the harassment,

bullying, and discrimination Zelda experienced on several occasions, but

failed and refused to take action.

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305. In violating Zelda’s protected rights to free speech and expression

under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, Defendant

Shingleton acted under the color of state law.

306. In violating Zelda’s protected rights under the Substantive Due

Process and Equal Protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the

United States Constitution, Defendant Shingleton acted under the color of

state law.

307. The effect of the discrimination, bullying, and harassment, and the

failure to remedy the discrimination, bullying, and harassment, as outlined

above, has deprived Zelda of her statutory and constitutional rights under the

First Amendment to the United States Constitution, Substantive Due Process

Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the

United States Constitution, and Title IX.

308. Zelda has a constitutional right to be free from sexual harassment and

abuse in public schools.

309. Zelda has a constitutional right to freedom of speech and expression

in public schools.

310. Defendant Shingleton had actual and constructive knowledge and

knew or should have known about the discrimination, bullying, and

harassment.

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311. Defendant Shingleton participated in violating Zelda’s statutory and

constitutional rights under the First Amendment to the United States

Constitution, Substantive Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection

Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, and

Title IX by refusing to refer to Zelda by her chosen name and referring to

her only by male pronouns and calling her “sir,” against Zelda’s wishes and

based on his own personal beliefs.

312. Defendant Shingleton personally participated in the discrimination,

bullying, and harassment by failing and refusing to intervene when third

party students were bullying, harassing, and threatening Zelda in his

presence.

313. Defendant Shingelton personally witnessed other students’ bullying,

harassment, and discrimination of Zelda and failed to protect Zelda by

following Defendant Board’s policies and procedures for reporting and

disciplining students, but rather ratified the other students’ bullying and

harassment by referring to Zelda by her dead name and male pronouns.

314. The inaction of Defendant Shingleton in response to other third

parties’ observed and reported discrimination, bullying, threats, and

harassment amounted to a violation of Zelda’s right to Equal Protection,

resulting in injury to Zelda.

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315. Defendant Shingleton is officially and individually liable under 42

U.S.C. § 1983 because a causal connection exists between his acts and the

violations of Zelda’s constitutional rights.

316. Defendant Shingleton, by allowing, condoning, and participating in

the bullying, harassment, threats, and discrimination which took place in his

presence, and failing to intervene when said behavior took place in his

presence or was directly reported to him, allowed the bullying,

discrimination, and harassment to become widespread and accepted as a

policy of Defendant Board.

317. As noted above, Defendant Shingleton instituted or ratified Defendant

Board’s customs or policies, which manifested deliberate indifference to

Zelda’s constitutional rights and resulted in injury to Zelda.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff demands compensatory damages, punitive

damages, attorneys’ fees and costs pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1988, and such

other and further relief as this Court finds just and proper.

COUNT XIII: VIOLATION OF 42 U.S.C. § 1983


AGAINST DEFENDANT AMY LANGFORD IN HER
INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITIES

318. Each of the paragraphs of this Complaint is incorporated as if fully

restated herein.

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319. Defendant Langford had actual knowledge of the harassment,

bullying, and discrimination Zelda experienced, but failed and refused to

take action to address it.

320. Defendant Langford was put on direct notice of the harassment,

bullying, and discrimination Zelda experienced on several occasions, but

failed and refused to take action.

321. In violating Zelda’s protected rights to free speech and expression

under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, Defendant

Langford acted under the color of state law.

322. In violating Zelda’s protected rights under the Substantive Due

Process and Equal Protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the

United States Constitution, Defendant Langford acted under the color of

state law.

323. The effect of the discrimination, bullying, and harassment, and the

failure to remedy the discrimination, bullying, and harassment, as outlined

above, has deprived Zelda of her statutory and constitutional rights under the

First Amendment to the United States Constitution, Substantive Due Process

Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the

United States Constitution, and Title IX.

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324. Zelda has a constitutional right to be free from sexual harassment and

abuse in public schools.

325. Zelda has a constitutional right to freedom of speech and expression

in public schools.

326. Defendant Langford had actual and constructive knowledge and knew

or should have known about the discrimination, bullying, and harassment.

327. Defendant Langford participated in violating Zelda’s statutory and

constitutional rights under the First Amendment to the United States

Constitution, Substantive Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection

Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, and

Title IX by refusing, based on her personal beliefs, to intervene as required

when Defendant Teachers, students, and third parties, including the

yearbook photographer, harassed and bullied Zelda.

328. Defendant Langford personally participated in the discrimination,

bullying, and harassment by failing and refusing to intervene when third

party students were bullying, harassing, and threatening Zelda in her

presence.

329. The inaction of Defendant Langford in response to other third parties’

observed and reported discrimination, bullying, threats, and harassment

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amounted to a violation of Zelda’s right to Equal Protection, resulting in

injury to Zelda.

330. Defendant Langford is officially and individually liable under 42

U.S.C. § 1983 because a causal connection exists between her acts and the

violations of Zelda’s constitutional rights.

331. Defendant Langford, by allowing and condoning the bullying,

harassment, threats, and discrimination which took place in her presence,

and failing to intervene when said behavior took place in her presence or

was directly reported to her, allowed the bullying, discrimination, and

harassment to become widespread and accepted as a policy of Defendant

Board.

332. As noted above, Defendant Langford instituted or ratified Defendant

Board’s customs or policies, which manifested deliberate indifference to

Zelda’s constitutional rights and resulted in injury to Zelda.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff demands compensatory damages, punitive

damages, attorneys’ fees and costs pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1988, and such

other and further relief as this Court finds just and proper.

COUNT XIV: VIOLATION OF 42 U.S.C. § 1983


AGAINST DEFENDANT SHIRLEY WELLINGTON IN HER
INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITIES

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333. Each of the paragraphs of this Complaint is incorporated as if fully

restated herein.

334. Defendant Wellington had actual knowledge of the harassment,

bullying, and discrimination Zelda experienced, but failed and refused to

take action to address it.

335. Zelda and third parties put Defendant Wellington on direct notice of

the harassment, bullying, and discrimination Zelda experienced on several

occasions, but she failed and refused to take action.

336. In violating Zelda’s protected rights to free speech and expression

under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, Defendant

Wellington acted under the color of state law.

337. In violating Zelda’s protected rights under the Substantive Due

Process and Equal Protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the

United States Constitution, Defendant Wellington acted under the color of

state law.

338. The effect of the discrimination, bullying, and harassment, and the

failure to remedy the discrimination, bullying, and harassment, as outlined

above, has deprived Zelda of her statutory and constitutional rights under the

First Amendment to the United States Constitution, Substantive Due Process

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Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the

United States Constitution, and Title IX.

339. Zelda has a constitutional right to be free from sexual harassment and

abuse in public schools.

340. Zelda has a constitutional right to freedom of speech and expression

in public schools.

341. Defendant Wellington had actual and constructive knowledge and

knew or should have known about the discrimination, bullying, and

harassment.

342. Defendant Wellington personally participated in the discrimination,

bullying, and harassment as the Title IX Coordinator for Defendant Board

by failing and refusing to take necessary investigatory and remedial action

when bullying, harassing, and discrimination of Zelda was reported to her,

allowing and ratifying the illegal behavior to continue.

343. The inaction of Defendant Wellington in response to other third

parties’ observed and reported discrimination, bullying, threats, and

harassment amounted to a violation of Zelda’s right to Equal Protection,

resulting in injury to Zelda.

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344. Defendant Wellington is officially and individually liable under 42

U.S.C. § 1983 because a causal connection exists between her acts and the

violations of Zelda’s constitutional rights.

345. Defendant Wellington, by allowing and condoning the bullying,

harassment, threats, and discrimination which took place after receiving

reports of said behavior, and failing to intervene when said behavior took

place in her presence or was directly reported to her, allowed the bullying,

discrimination, and harassment to become widespread and accepted as a

policy of Defendant Board.

346. As noted above, Defendant Wellington instituted or ratified Defendant

Board’s customs or policies, which manifested deliberate indifference to

Zelda’s constitutional rights and resulted in injury to Zelda.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff demands compensatory damages, punitive

damages, attorneys’ fees and costs pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1988, and such

other and further relief as this Court finds just and proper.

PRAYER FOR RELIEF

Wherefore, Zelda requests that this Court provide the following relief:

a. Declare the Defendants’ conduct to be in violation of

Plaintiff’s rights under federal and Alabama law;

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b. Award Plaintiff compensatory damages in an amount that

will fully compensate her for the physical injuries, mental

distress, anguish, pain, humiliation, embarrassment,

suffering, and concern that she has suffered as a direct and

proximate result of the statutory and constitutional violations

set forth herein;

c. Enter a judgment against all Defendants for such punitive

damages as will properly punish them for the constitutional,

statutory law violations perpetrated upon Plaintiff as alleged

herein, in an amount that will serve as a deterrent to

Defendants and others from engaging in similar conduct in

the future;

d. Award Plaintiff with prejudgment and post-judgment

interest at the highest rates allowed by law; and

e. Award Plaintiff with costs, expert witness fees, and

reasonable attorney’s fees;

PLAINTIFF DEMANDS A TRIAL STRUCK BY JURY.

Respectfully submitted, this the 11th day of September, 2018.

/s/Abbey Clarkson

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Abbey Clarkson (MAS038)

/s/Cameron L. Hogan
Cameron L. Hogan (HOG010)

OF COUNSEL:

LLOYD & HOGAN


2871 ACTON ROAD
SUITE 201
BIRMINGHAM, AL 35243
(205) 969-6235
/s/Alyson M. Hood
Alyson M. Hood (HOO041)

OF COUNSEL:

THE BLOOMSTON FIRM


2151 HIGHLAND AVENUE SOUTH
SUITE 310
BIRMINGHAM, AL 35205
(205) 212-9700

SERVE THE FOLLOWING DEFENDANTS BY CERTIFIED MAIL:

City of Huntsville Board of Education


200 White Street
Huntsville, AL 35801

Casey Wardynski
c/o FISH Technologies
16775 Addison Road
Suite 550
Addison, TX 75001

Rebecca Balentine

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Jones Valley Elementary School


4908 Garth Road SE
Huntsville, AL 35802

James “Bo” Coln


Grissom High School
1001 Haysland Road SW
Huntsville, AL 35803

Connie Stephens
Grissom High School
1001 Haysland Road SW
Huntsville, AL 35803

Jake Moran
Grissom High School
1001 Haysland Road SW
Huntsville, AL 35803

Diane Staley
Grissom High School
1001 Haysland Road SW
Huntsville, AL 35803

Alicia DesRosier
Grissom High School
1001 Haysland Road SW
Huntsville, AL 35803

Maurice Shingleton
Grissom High School
1001 Haysland Road SW
Huntsville, AL 35803

Amy Langford
Grissom High School
1001 Haysland Road SW
Huntsville, AL 35803

Shirley Wellington

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City of Huntsville Board of Education


200 White Street
Huntsville, AL 35801

94