United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma
(1) MANDY and (2) JAKE CALLIHAN, individually and as parents and next friends of CNC, a minor, Plaintiffs,
(1) INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 1 OF DELAWARE COUNTY, OKLAHOMA, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
H. PAYNE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court are the Motion for Summary Judgment with Combined
Brief in Support of the Defendant, Independent School
District No. 1 of Delaware County, Oklahoma (the
“School District”) [Doc. No. 35], Plaintiffs'
Response in Opposition to Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc.
No. 59], the School District's Reply [Doc. No. 76], as
well as Plaintiffs' Supplemental Response [Doc. No. 86],
and the School District's Reply to Plaintiff's
Supplemental Response [Doc. No. 90]. After review of the
briefs, and for the reasons stated below, the School
District's Motion for Summary Judgment is
August 9, 2016, the Plaintiffs, Mandy and Jake Callihan,
individually and as parents and next friends of C. N.C., a
minor, brought this action against the School District. The
Plaintiffs alleged a claim for violation of 20 U.S.C.
§§ 1681-1688 (Title IX of the Education Amendments
of 1972). The Plaintiffs also asserted claims under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 for violation of C. N.C. 's Fourteenth
Amendment rights to equal protection, substantive due
process, and procedural due process.
summer of 2013, the School District hired Cory Henton as a
teacher and girls' basketball coach. A School District
representative was told by Henton's prior employer that
Henton was not eligible for rehire. However, the School
District representative was also told that Henton's
ineligibility for rehire was not the result of a conflict
the 2013-14 school year, Henton's first year of
employment with the School District, C. N.C. was 13 years old
and a student in the eighth grade at the School
District's middle school. Henton coached C. N.C. 's
eighth grade basketball team, and he was also the assistant
coach for her cross country and track team. Henton did not
have any inappropriate contact with C. N.C. during the
2013-14 school year.
September of 2013, Tammy Cornell, a teacher employed by the
School District, was notified by another teacher that
Cornell's daughter, who was a sophomore in high school
and a member of the basketball team, had asked to be excused
from class to go to the gym to shoot hoops with Henton.
Cornell declined to approve her daughter's request, and
she and her daughter met with the teacher, Henton, and James
Bryant, the high school principal and athletic director for
the School District. During this meeting, it was revealed
that Henton and Cornell's daughter had been texting each
other about going to the gym to shoot hoops. Bryant told
Henton not to send text messages to individual players and to
send only group texts to the entire team.
the 2013-14 school year, Michelle and Greg Wilson's
daughter was a junior on the basketball team. In November of
2013, the Wilsons learned that Henton had told their daughter
that she could not attend the first scrimmage of basketball
season. The Wilsons and their daughter went to the high
school and met with Bryant. During this meeting, the
Wilsons' daughter told Bryant that Henton sent text
messages to individual players and talked about the
girls' butts during basketball practice.
investigated these allegations and interviewed four (4)
members of the girls' basketball team. The players
reported that Henton sometimes sent text messages to
individual players, but they stated that the messages always
related to basketball. The players told Bryant that during
basketball practices, Henton sometimes talked about girls
using their butts to block out other players or get position
then met with Charles Thomas, the Superintendent of the
School District, and informed him of what he had learned.
Thomas and Bryant met with Henton and questioned him. At the
end of this meeting, Bryant gave Henton a verbal reprimand
not to send text messages to any individual students.
Cornell and Michelle Wilson are close friends. They did not
like Henton because of the way he treated their daughters. As
a result, they watched everything that Henton did and made
sure their daughters told them everything Henton did or said.
December of 2013, Tammy Cornell was at a basketball practice
and observed other players picking on Michelle Wilson's
daughter. Cornell went to Thomas's office and told him
that she was concerned about the way Henton was running the
basketball team. Cornell subsequently sent Thomas an email
identifying all of her concerns. Cornell believed that Henton
displayed favoritism and did not treat all of the players the
same. Cornell also complained that Henton had been critical
that some of the clothing her daughter wore in public was
immodest. Finally, she complained that Henton had made a
comment to her daughter indicating that he believed a scratch
on her neck was a “hickey.” Cornell believed
Henton was insinuating that her daughter was sexually
January 7, 2014, the Wilsons met with Thomas and complained
that their daughter was being bullied by other players on the
team. They said they believed their daughter was being
“exiled” from team activities because they had
complained to Bryant about Henton. They also believed that
Henton was retaliating against their daughter by reducing her
playing time in games.
response to the complaints he had received, Thomas met with
Jan Fasano, the assistant high school principal, and directed
her to make a random list of some of the students on the
girls' basketball team. He specifically directed her to
include Cornell's daughter and the Wilsons' daughter
on the list. Thomas and Fasano then prepared a set of
questions and individually questioned each girl on the list.
They prepared a written summary of the girls' responses.
January 24, Thomas met with the Wilsons and gave them a five
(5) page letter detailing the results of his investigation.
Thomas noted that Bryant had done an investigation into the
Wilsons' allegations in November, and Thomas pointed out
that because the Wilsons were dissatisfied with the results
of that investigation, he had then done his own investigation
into their allegations. Thomas acknowledged that Henton had
made some mistakes, but he found those mistakes to be
innocent and minor. Thomas concluded that the Wilsons'
allegations that their daughter was the target of retaliation
and/or deliberate mistreatment were unfounded.
Wilsons' daughter ultimately quit the basketball team and
transferred to another school district. She returned to the
School District for the 2014-15 school year but did not play
Cornell's daughter nor the Wilsons' daughter ever
accused Henton of any inappropriate touching. Neither Cornell
nor the Wilsons ever suggested to anyone at the School
District that Henton was trying to have an inappropriate
relationship with any player or student.
Cornell was aware that as a public school teacher, Oklahoma
law required her to report any suspected sexual abuse of a
child to the Oklahoma Department of Human Services. Tammy
Cornell did not make any report to DHS about Henton because
she did not suspect that Henton was sexually abusing any
Sturges was Henton's assistant coach during the 2013-14
school year. She requested to stop coaching with him because
they had a personality conflict and had different coaching
styles. Sturges never observed Henton say or do anything that
caused her to suspect that he would have an inappropriate
relationship with a student.
the 2014-15 school year, C. N.C. was a freshman at the School
District. Henton was head coach of both the girls'
freshman team and the girls' high school varsity team.
Lindsi Crawford was Henton's assistant coach for both
teams. C. N.C. was a starter on the freshman team and played
some on the high school team.
Christmas break of the 2014-15 school year, Henton sent C.
N.C. a friend request through a game called Trivia Crack.
Trivia Crack allowed players to message each other similar to
text messaging. Shortly after Henton and C. N.C. began
communicating through Trivia Crack, Henton began to
compliment C. N.C., telling her that she was pretty and had
's parents had given C. N.C. permission to download the
Trivia Crack game on her phone, but they had no idea Henton
was using that game to communicate with C. N.C. C. N.C. did
not tell her parents or anyone else that she was
communicating with Henton. When classes resumed after
Christmas break, Henton continued to communicate with C. N.C.
through Trivia Crack. Except for basketball practice, which
involved no inappropriate contact, Henton and C. N.C. did not
interact with each other at school and communicated
exclusively through Trivia Crack.
February of 2015, Henton suggested to C. N.C. that they
communicate through a texting application called Cyber Dust,
which would automatically erase their messages. C. N.C. did
not ask her parents' permission before downloading Cyber
Dust to her phone. C. N.C. did not tell anyone that she was
using Cyber Dust to communicate with Henton because she knew
it was inappropriate and she wanted to keep it secret.
conversations with C. N.C. became more personal after they
began using Cyber Dust. Henton told C. N.C. that he wanted to
kiss her, and they kissed for the first time in March of 2015
at the gym following basketball practice after everyone else
had left. After that, they began to hug, kiss, and hold hands
when they were alone.
March 13, 2015, Henton took some of the players on the
basketball team on an overnight trip to Oklahoma City to
watch the girls' state high school basketball tournament.
Henton and C. N.C. had discussed this trip on Cyber Dust, and