Franklin High School Principal George Forster (pictured at left) was alleged to be a primary source of the racist and homophobic climate that terrorized so many students and their families during the making of "Out In The Silence," a documentary film chronicling the efforts of several Venango County residents to make the area more inclusive and welcoming for LGBT people.
According to this court document, problems persist at the high school under Forster's leadership. Sad ...
A. Relevant Procedural and Factual History
On August 8, 2011, this civil action was commenced pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983, by Plaintiff Leah Billingsley, a minor, by and through her parents and natural guardians Kevin Billingsley and Jennifer Billingsley. Named as Defendants are: Franklin Area School District (Franklin); Ronald A Paranick, Superintendent of Franklin (Paranick); George Forster, Jr., Principal of the Franklin Area High School (Forster); and Peter Wygant, a teacher at the Franklin Area High School (AWygant@). For convenience, Defendants Paranick, Forster and Wygant will hereafter be referred to collectively as Aindividual Defendants.
The claims in this case arise from the sexual assault of Plaintiff by a fellow student at Franklin Area High School, which occurred on January 14, 2011.
At the time, Plaintiff was in the ninth grade and her primary special education teacher was Defendant Wygant. (Id. at & 9). On the date of the incident, Plaintiff was given a hall pass by Defendant Wygant, which allowed Plaintiff to leave her special education classroom without supervision. (Id. at & 10). Shortly after Plaintiff left the classroom, Defendant Wygant gave a hall pass to another student, a male identified as AJ.R.@ (Id. at & 11). After leaving the classroom, J.R. found Plaintiff and Aviciously assaulted and raped@ her. (Id. at & 16).
Plaintiff alleges that J.R. had sexually assaulted another female student at Franklin Area High School prior to January 14, 2011, and that the individual Defendants were all aware of the prior incident. (Id. at & 12). Plaintiff alleges further that the individual Defendants were also aware that J.R. Ahad aggressive tendencies and had repeatedly made sexual advances to female students,@ which behavior Awas flagrant, obvious, rampant and of a continuous duration.@ (Id. at & 13).
Plaintiff claims that Defendants violated her due process right to bodily integrity under the fourteenth amendment to the United States Constitution. In particular, Plaintiff claims that the individual Defendants Acreated the danger that caused harm to [Plaintiff] and deprived her of her liberty interest in bodily integrity,@ and that the deprivation of her liberty interest was the result of the official policy, custom or practice of Defendant Franklin. As relief for her claims, Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages.
Defendants have filed a motion to dismiss [ECF No. 7] arguing that Plaintiff=s claims against the individual Defendants are barred by the doctrine of qualified immunity and/or that Plaintiff has failed to state a cause of action upon which relief may be granted against any of the Defendants. Plaintiff has since filed a brief in opposition to Defendants= motion [ECF Nos. 10]. This matter is now ripe for consideration.
Download or Read The Full Court Opinion HERE.