New opinion — Court affirms denial of qualified immunity for teacher who let stranger take kindergartner

L.R. v. School Dist. of Phila. — civil rights — affirmance — Fuentes

A kindergarten teacher allegedly allowed a total stranger to remove one of his students from the classroom. According to the complaint, the stranger went right to the classroom and asked to take the student, the teacher asked the stranger to show identification and verification that the student had permission to leave school, and the stranger could not. Yet the teacher let his student leave with the stranger anyway, and later that day the stranger sexually assaulted the child. The child’s parent’s sued the teacher and the school district alleging denial of substantive due process, and the district court ruled that the teacher was not entitled to qualified immunity. Today, the Third Circuit affirmed: “we conclude that it is shocking to the conscience that a kindergarten teacher would allow a child in his care to leave his classroom with a complete stranger.”

Joining Fuentes were Krause and Roth. Arguing counsel were Jeffrey Scott of Archer and Greiner for the teacher and district and Charles Becker of Kline & Specter, president-elect of the Third Circuit Bar Association, for the parent.