Sixth Circuit denies summary disposition to school administrator who may have filed child abuse report in retaliation for father's assertion of daughter's educational rights
Nancy Schott was the Director of Pupil Services for an Ohio School District when Peter Wenk contacted the Central Ohio Educational Service Center to enlist its support in securing broader social opportunities for special ed students in Schott's district. After hearing from the latter service center, Schott apparently filed a child abuse report with Social Services. After a criminal investigation found Schott's allegations of abuse to be "unfounded," Wenk sued her. He argued that her report was an unconstitutional retaliation for Wenk's attempt to pressure Schott to provide broader social opportunities for children like his daughter. The District Court Judge denied Schott's motion for summary disposition and the administrator appealed.
The Court examined the record and concluded that many of Wenk's allegations were corroborated by the facts, which suggested that Schott either falsified or over-stated the claims in her report. It noted that Wenk's daughters two special ed. teachers did not substantiate the bulk of Schott's allegations. The Court therefore affirmed the lower court's decision to leave the ultimate credibility and fact determinations to the jury, Wenk having created a genuine issue of material fact regarding Schott's retaliation.