Cox v. Warwick Valley Central Sch., No. 10-3633 (2d Cir. 2011)Annotate this Case
Plaintiffs appealed from a judgment of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of a school district and principal on 42 U.S.C. 1983 claims arising out of the treatment of their son, a middle school student with a history of misbehavior in school, who wrote an essay with descriptions of illegal activity, violence, and suicide (Racing Time essay). Plaintiffs appealed the dismissal of a First Amendment retaliation claim brought on behalf of their son and the dismissal of their own Fourth Amendment substantive due process claim. The court held that none of the principal's actions in response to the student's speech constituted retaliation; and because neither of the principal's actions in response to the essay were adverse, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the principal on the First Amendment retaliation claim. The court also held that the principal's call to Child and Family Services (CFS) did not violate the parents' substantive due process rights where there was no actual loss of the parents' custody and no reasonably jury could conclude that the principal's report to CFS, or the resulting requirement that the student by psychiatrically evaluated, was even remotely "outrageous" or "conscience-shocking." The court did not reach the question of qualified immunity. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court.