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Doe v. Perille

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

November 6, 2018

STUDENT DOE by Parent and Next Friend FATHER DOE, Plaintiff,
v.
LAURA PERILLE, Superintendent of Boston Public Schools, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          Denise J. Casper United States District Judge

         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff Student Doe (“Doe”), through Doe's parent and next friend Father Doe, has filed this pro se lawsuit against Defendant Laura Perille (“Perille”), in her official capacity as Superintendent of Boston Public Schools, asserting violations of Doe's constitutional rights and the McKinney-Vento Act, 42 U.S.C. § 11431 et seq., in connection with the withdrawal of Doe's admission to the Boston Latin School (“BLS”) for the 2018-19 academic year. D. 5; D. 11; D. 12. Doe seeks injunctive relief requiring that Doe be allowed to attend BLS this year. Id. For the reasons discussed below, Doe's motions are DENIED.

         II. Standard of Review

          Injunctive relief “is an ‘extraordinary and drastic remedy.'” Voice of the Arab World, Inc. v. MDTV Med. News Now, Inc., 645 F.3d 26, 32 (1st Cir. 2011) (quoting Munaf v. Geren, 553 U.S. 674, 689-90 (2008)). To obtain such relief, the Court must consider: (1) the movant's likelihood of success on the merits; (2) the likelihood of the movant suffering irreparable harm if the injunction is not granted; (3) the balance of equities between the parties; and (4) whether granting the injunction is in the public interest. Corp. Techs., Inc. v. Harnett, 731 F.3d 6, 9 (1st Cir. 2013). Doe “bears the burden of establishing that these four factors weigh in [his] favor.” Esso Standard Oil Co. (P.R.) v. Monroig-Zayas, 445 F.3d 13, 18 (1st Cir. 2006); see Rivera-Vega v. ConAgra, Inc., 70 F.3d 153, 164 (1st Cir. 1995) (quoting Pye ex rel. NLRB v. Sullivan Bros. Printers, 38 F.3d 58, 63 (1994)) (noting that when the relief sought by the moving party “is essentially the final relief sought, the likelihood of success should be strong”) (emphasis in original) (internal quotation marks omitted).

         III. Factual Background

         Unless otherwise noted, the following facts are drawn from the complaint, D. 1, Doe's motions for injunctive relief, D. 5; D. 11; D. 12, Perille's opposition, D. 17, and the parties' supporting documents.[1]

         A. Boston Latin School

         BLS is a public school for seventh through twelfth grade students within the Boston Public Schools (“BPS”). Boston Latin School Admissions FAQs, https://www.bls.org (last visited Nov. 5, 2018). BLS is one of three “exam schools” in BPS. Id. BLS, in particular, has been described as “one of the best schools in the whole country, ” id., and the “crown jewel of the city's school system, ” D. 19 at 34. To be eligible for admission to BLS, students must (1) apply to the school when they are in either sixth or eighth grade, (2) receive a certain score on the Independent Schools Entrance Exam (“ISEE”), (3) maintain a certain grade point average and (4) reside in Boston. Boston Latin School Admissions FAQs, https://www.bls.org (last visited Nov. 5, 2018).

         B. BPS Residency Policy

         BPS utilizes a student residency requirement for all schools within its jurisdiction. D. 19 at 16-20. Pursuant to the BPS residency policy, “a student must actually reside in the City of Boston.” Id. at 16. The policy defines residency as “the place where a person dwells permanently, not temporarily, and is the place that is the center of his or her domestic, social, and civic life.” Id. The residence of a minor child is “presumed to be the primary, legal residence of the parent(s) or guardian(s) who has physical custody of the child.” Id. Temporary residence in the City of Boston “solely for the purpose of attending a Boston public school, shall not be considered residency.” Id. In determining a student's residency, “Boston Public Schools reserves its right to request a variety of documentation and to conduct Investigation into where a student actually resides.” Id. In addition, “[b]ecause residency can, and does, change for students and their families during the course of the academic year, [BPS] may continue to verify residency after the commencement of classes.” Id.

         For admission to exam schools, including BLS, BPS requires students to prove their Boston residency “no later than the first Friday in November for matriculation the following September.” Id. at 10. This policy may be, in part, a response to concerns that non-resident parents “go to great lengths” to skirt Boston residency requirements so their children can attend BLS. Id. at 34 (describing the residency proposal for BPS exam schools in an article in The Boston Globe dated April 23, 2010). The residency policy represents “the latest effort to crack down on residency fraud in the city's school system.” Id.

         Violations of the residency policy may result in strict penalties, including “[i]mmediate dismissal from school” and “[p]er diem fines for the educational and related services” provided to nonresidents. Id. at 10. Students who are dismissed from BPS schools for failure to prove their Boston residency “may appeal this determination through the Office of the Ombudsperson, whose shall be final.” Id. at 11. Any such appeal must be made within ten days of the dismissal notice. Id.

         C. BPS's Withdrawal of Doe's Admission to BLS

         In November 2017, Doe's mother (“Mother Roe”) registered Doe for the ISEE. D. 1 ¶ 13. Mother Roe provided an address on Canal Street in Boston (the “Canal Street address”) on the BPS residency verification forms, as well as a credit card statement, a Massachusetts driver's license and a social security card application that referenced the Canal Street address. D. 19 at 37-42. Doe took the ISEE in November 2017, D. 1 ¶ 14, and was invited to attend BLS in March 2018, id. ¶ 15. On June 15, 2018, BPS's Ombudsperson, Carolyn MacNeil (“MacNeil”), who is responsible for verifying student residency and enforcing the BPS residency policy, informed Mother Roe that Doe would be denied entrance to ...


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