A lawsuit against Denison Independent School District and some of its employees for alleged inappropriate comments made to a baseball player about his mother continues to make its way through the system.
Michael Wright, a former city councilor and former mayor pro tem, was the subject of a news release sent out notifying the media of activities in the case in which Wright alleges that his son was benched after the family complained of the district’s alleged bad behavior.
Wright filed the lawsuit in August 2016 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas against the DISD, baseball coach Charles Bollinger, Athletic Director Chad Rogers, Superintendent Henry Scott, and Assistant Superintendent David Kirkbride. Wright’s claims include First Amendment retaliation and a violation of his son’s civil rights. Additionally, Wright contends that his son said Bollinger asked him to cheat during a baseball game. Wright contends that after the family complained about those incidents Bollinger, Rogers, Scott, and Kirkbride took actions to retaliate against the Wright’s son.
On Sept. 12, 2016, the district and the other defendants filed a motion to dismiss Wright’s lawsuit. On May 24, 2017, U.S. District Judge Amos L. Mazzant adopted, in part, a Report and Recommendation from U.S. Magistrate Judge Christine A. Nowak, denying defendants’ request to dismiss Wright’s First Amendment retaliation claims against DISD officials. Nowak did, however, dismiss all of the allegations against DISD. However, Mazzant did not uphold that part of her ruling and gave Wright additional time to fully explain his reasoning for alleging that the district was responsible for the actions taken by the other defendants.
“The Court finds that Plaintiff’s reports of Defendant Bollinger’s alleged misconduct, and his complaint that DISD administrators were not responding (or not responding appropriately) to the complaint, was an exercise of free speech protected by the First Amendment, affording all reasonable inferences in favor of Plaintiff at this stage of the case, the Amended Complaint alleges both Defendants Bollinger and Scott responded to Plaintiff’s complaints by punishing Plaintiff in a manner calculated to make a person of ordinary firmness stop speaking or withdraw the complaints, and Defendants Kirkbride and Rogers knew of this conduct and failed to intervene on Plaintiff’s behalf,” Nowak’s ruling states.
Wright filed an amended complaint on June 9.
Attorney Meredith Walker represents the district in the case and said the district’s answer to that amended complaint is due on June 23.
Wright is being represented by attorney Jason Bach of Austin whose practice focuses on students and parents who allege they have been harmed by school misconduct.