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To establish a substantive due process claim, the plaintiffs must show that the government's actions either shock the conscience or offend judicial notions of fairness or human dignity.
Plaintiffs, parents and their minor child, sued defendants, a school district, a school board, a superintendent, a principal, and a teacher, alleging that the child was harassed by the teacher to the point where the child was removed from the teacher's class, and that the district acquiesced in the harassment. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants. Plaintiffs appealed.
Was the grant of summary judgment in favor of the defendants proper under the circumstances?
The court first held that no procedural due process violation occurred, since defendants followed appropriate procedures in determining that the child did not qualify for special education services. Further, the teacher's conduct, while unprofessional, was not sufficiently shocking to the conscience to state a substantive due process claim. Also, plaintiffs failed to show that the removal from class was not rationally related to the legitimate governmental purpose of providing the child with an appropriate education. Moreover, defendants' failure to provide notice of their refusal to provide special education services did not result in a loss of any educational opportunity. Finally, plaintiffs failed to show that the child had a substantially limiting impairment, a record of such impairment, or was regarded as having an impairment.