341 F.3d 1197 (10th Cir. 2003), 02-2199, Butler v. Rio Rancho Public Schools Bd. of Educ.

Docket Nº:02-2199
Citation:341 F.3d 1197
Party Name:Butler v. Rio Rancho Public Schools Bd. of Educ.
Case Date:August 25, 2003
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

Page 1197

341 F.3d 1197 (10th Cir. 2003)

Stephen BUTLER, as parent and next friend of Joshua Butler, a Minor; Mary Butler, as parent and next friend of Joshua Butler, a Minor, Plaintiffs-Appellees,


RIO RANCHO PUBLIC SCHOOLS BOARD OF EDUCATION, local public governing body of the State of New Mexico; Sue Cleveland; Gary Tripp; Sally Marquez, individuals; Gerard Hyatt; George Doe, in their individual and official capacities, Defendants-Appellants,

City of Rio Rancho, a local public governing body of the State of New Mexico; Russ Apgar, Officer, in his individual and official capacity, Defendant,

National School Boards Association; New Mexico School Boards Association; Colorado Association of School Boards; Oklahoma State School Boards Association; Utah School Boards Association; Wyoming School Boards Association, Amici Curiae.

No. 02-2199.

United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit

August 25, 2003

Page 1198

Joan M. Waters, Albuquerque, New Mexico, for Plaintiffs-Appellees.

Charlotte H. Hetherington (Andrew M. Sanchez with her on the briefs) of Cuddy, Kennedy, Hetherington, Albetta & Ives, LLP, Santa Fe, New Mexico, for Defendants-Appellants.

Julie K. Underwood and Thomas E.M. Hutton, National School Boards Association, Alexandria, Virginia, filed a brief on behalf of Amici Curiae.

Before EBEL, Circuit Judge, BRORBY, Senior Circuit Judge, and MURPHY, Circuit Judge.

BRORBY, Senior Circuit Judge.

Rio Rancho Public Schools Board of Education and certain school officials appeal a district court decision denying their motion to dismiss based on qualified immunity. Exercising jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, we reverse. See Mitchell v. Forsyth, 472 U.S. 511, 530, 105 S.Ct. 2806, 86 L.Ed.2d 411 (1985).

I. Background

The following facts are alleged in the amended complaint. One day, Mr. Joshua Butler borrowed his brother's car and drove to his public high school. Mr. Butler parked the car in the faculty parking lot without a permit. A school security guard noticed the vehicle did not have a

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permit and ran a registration check. The registration check revealed the vehicle belonged to Mr. Butler's brother.

During this time, the security guard "observed the butt end of a knife sticking up from between the passenger seat and the center console." He contacted Mr. Butler and had him open the vehicle. The security guard found a "sheathed hunting knife" in the vehicle. The security guard also found a handgun, ammunition, and drug paraphernalia. Mr. Butler denied knowing the items were in the car. The knife, gun, and ammunition belonged to Mr. Butler's brother.

Initially, the principal of the high school suspended Mr. Butler. After a disciplinary hearing, a hearing officer concluded Mr. Butler should be suspended for one year. Mr. Butler appealed the hearing officer's decision to the school board. After a hearing, the school board upheld the hearing officer's decision.

Mr. Butler's parents sued on his behalf the school board and various school officials, among others, (collectively the "School") in the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985. In relevant part, the Butlers claimed the School violated Mr. Butler's substantive due process right "to a free public education." They also requested, and the district court granted, a preliminary injunction allowing Mr. Butler to attend school and "participate in the commencement exercises and graduation related social events." The School appealed the court's decision, but we dismissed it as moot because Mr. Butler had already "graduated...

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