MIRANDA MELERINE, MR. AND MRS. MELERINE, BRENDON MAJOR, MR. AND MRS. MAJOR, ET AL
JEFFERSON PARISH SCHOOL BOARD, JUDY GARDNER, GERMAIN GILSON, ET AL
APPEAL FROM THE TWENTY-FOURTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH
OF JEFFERSON, STATE OF LOUISIANA NO. 658-309, DIVISION
"E" HONORABLE JOHN J. MOLAISON, JR., JUDGE
COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT, MIRANDA MELERINE, ET AL
James E. Shields, Sr.
COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE, JEFFERSON PARISH SCHOOL
BOARD, ET AL Michael G. Fanning Glenn D. Price, Jr.
composed of Susan M. Chehardy, Marc E. Johnson, and Stephen
E. JOHNSON JUDGE.
appeal the granting of summary judgment in favor of
Defendants, dismissing the claims of all Plaintiffs except
Miranda Melerine and her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Melerine. For
the following reasons, we reverse.
April 10, 2008, twenty-two plaintiffs and their parents filed
suit against the Jefferson Parish School Board, Judy Gardner
and Germain Gilson claiming they were arbitrarily denied
entry into their 2007 senior prom at L.W. Higgins High School
("Higgins"). Plaintiffs alleged that Ms. Gardner, a
teacher at Higgins, and Ms. Gilson, the principal at Higgins,
refused to allow them into the prom by negligent and
discriminatory enforcement of an illegal dress code.
Plaintiffs asserted they had a constitutional right to attend
prom and that Ms. Gardner and Ms. Gilson arbitrarily and
capriciously denied them of this constitutional right.
filed a motion for summary judgment claiming they were
entitled to judgment as a matter of law because Plaintiffs
would not be able to show: (1) they were deprived a
cognizable liberty or property interest so as to establish a
violation of a constitutional right; (2) the parish-wide
dress code was illegal, or that it was implemented without
authority or was arbitrary, capricious or discriminatory; or
that (3) Defendants breached any duty to Plaintiffs in
enforcing the dress code so as to establish a negligence
support of their summary judgment, Defendants attached the
2006-2007 Jefferson Parish School Board's Procedure and
Policies Handbook for Parents and Students ("the
Handbook"), a memo addressed to the Senior Class of 2007
with a copy of the Higgins' dress code for formal dances
attached, and the depositions of Ms. Gilson and Ms. Gardner.
According to Ms. Gilson, the Handbook, which is given to
every public school student in the parish, sets forth a
parish-wide policy for public schools that governs the attire
for formal dances. Ms. Gilson stated that the dress code set
forth in the Handbook was the only policy that existed and
was the policy followed by her and her staff at prom. She
explained that no one was denied entrance to prom for any
reason other than the fact their attire violated the dress
code set forth in the Handbook. Ms. Gilson further stated
that alterations were available, including pins, needle and
thread, and shawls, but not all students were amenable to
opposed the motion and attached several exhibits to their
opposition, including the depositions of Ms. Gilson and Ms.
Gardner; the affidavits of two plaintiffs, Miranda Melerine
and her father, Wayne Melerine, which stated that Miranda
obtained approval of her dress prior to prom but was
nonetheless denied entry to prom; and the affidavit of
Rebecca Frickey, who was a senior at Higgins in 2007 and was
allowed entrance into the prom. Plaintiffs argued that the
dress code was vague and that Ms. Gardner did not apply the
dress code in a uniform manner to all students. In support of
their argument, Plaintiffs relied on portions of Ms.
Gardner's deposition where she indicated certain dresses
in photographs presented to her did not meet the dress code
policy, but according to the affidavit of Rebecca Frickey,
she was allowed entrance to the prom even though Ms. Gardner
testified in her deposition that ...