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Ex parte Limestone County Board of Education

Alabama Court of Civil Appeals

May 4, 2018

Ex parte Limestone County Board of Education
v.
Limestone County Board of Education In re: E.E. v.

          Limestone Juvenile Court, JU-18-3.01

          PETITION FOR WRIT OF MANDAMUS

          DONALDSON, Judge.

         E.E. ("the student") initiated proceedings in the Limestone Juvenile Court ("the juvenile court") against the Limestone County Board of Education ("the Board") by filing a petition seeking judicial review of the decision of the Board to take disciplinary action against the student. In addition, the student asserted claims seeking injunctive relief against the Board. The Board filed a motion to dismiss the proceedings based on its claim of immunity as a state agency. The juvenile court entered an order denying the motion, and the Board has filed a petition for a writ of mandamus directing the juvenile court to vacate that order and to enter an order granting the motion. We grant the Board's petition insofar as it seeks the dismissal of the claims seeking injunctive relief, but we deny the petition insofar as it seeks to dismiss the student's petition seeking the juvenile court's judicial review of the Board's decision.

         Background

         In its petition for the writ of mandamus, the Board asserts the following facts, which have not been disputed by the student. The student had been attending a high school located within a geographic district assigned by the Board. On October 31, 2017, the student and another student made a telephone call to an elementary school. The call resulted in the evacuation of the students in the elementary school. After a number of proceedings, the Board imposed disciplinary action against the student that required the student to attend an alternative school for the remainder of the school year and, if she met certain conditions, permitted her to return to the high school within her district the following school year.

         On January 3, 2018, the student initiated the proceedings in the juvenile court, asserting that the juvenile court had original jurisdiction of the proceedings pursuant to § 12-15-115, Ala. Code 1975. Among other allegations, the student alleged that the Board had inappropriately infringed on her right to attend the public school of her district. As relief, the student sought judicial review of the Board's disciplinary decision as well as an order requiring the Board to permit her to return to her regular school pending the outcome of the proceedings and on a permanent basis.

         On January 18, 2018, the Board filed a motion to dismiss the proceedings on the ground that the Board is entitled to immunity pursuant to Article I, § 14, of the Alabama Constitution of 1901. On February 19, 2018, the juvenile court entered an order denying the motion to dismiss. On March 1, 2018, the Board filed the present petition for a writ of mandamus challenging the denial of its motion to dismiss. We asked for a response from the student to be filed by March 15, 2018.

         On Friday, March 2, 2018, after the Board filed the present petition, the student filed in the juvenile court a "Motion for Ruling on Temporary Relief Sought By Appellant, " requesting an "immediate" return to her regular school pending the outcome of the proceedings. Later that same day, the juvenile court entered an order granting the student's motion and ordering that she be permitted to return to her high school the following Monday morning (March 5, 2018), without awaiting a response from the Board or providing a hearing on the matter. On the evening of Friday, March 2, 2018, the Board electronically filed in this court a motion seeking to stay the juvenile court's March 2, 2018, order or, alternatively, a petition for a writ of mandamus challenging that order. On March 6, 2018, we entered an order denying the motion to stay, citing Rule 8(b), Ala. R. App. P., and notified the parties that this court would treat the March 2, 2018, filing as an additional petition for a writ of mandamus, which was assigned case number 2170533. We asked for responses to be filed to the petition in case number 2170533 by March 9. The student did not file a response. On March 14, 2018, this court entered an order granting the Board's March 2, 2018, petition for a writ of mandamus and directing the juvenile court to vacate its March 2, 2018, order, citing Rule 65(b), Ala. R. Civ. P., Ex parte Hurst, 914 So.2d 840, 842 (Ala. 2005), and Ex parte Hutson, 201 So.3d 570, 573 (Ala. Civ. App. 2016). Ex parte Limestone Cty. Bd. Of Educ., So.3d (Ala. Civ. App. 2018)(table).

         In our March 14, 2018, order, we noted that the present petition for a writ of mandamus and the issue of immunity remained pending. The student did not file a response to the present petition. This court has jurisdiction over the present petition pursuant to § 12-3-11, Ala. Code 1975.[1]

         Standard of Review

         "[A] petition for a writ of mandamus is an appropriate means for seeking review of an order denying a claim of immunity." Ex parte Butts, 775 So.2d 173, 176 (Ala. 2000).

"'A writ of mandamus is an extraordinary remedy, and is appropriate when the petitioner can show (1) a clear legal right to the order sought; (2) an imperative duty upon the respondent to perform, accompanied by a refusal to do so; (3) the lack of another adequate remedy; and (4) the properly invoked jurisdiction of the court.'"

Ex parte Jackson Cty. Bd. of Educ., 4 So.3d 1099, 1101-02 (Ala. 2008) (quoting Ex parte BOC Grp., Inc., 823 So.2d 1270, ...


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