Lawyers representing the St. Mary’s County Board of Education and others involved in the school system have filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit against them filed by a legal team representing the Willey family.
The January lawsuit, which alleges the school system acted negligently and violated civil rights in the events leading up to, and during, the March 2018 school shooting of Jaelynn Willey by another student at Great Mills High School, is still in its opening phases, and lawyers representing school defendants are asking a federal judge to dismiss the case, arguing the lawyers representing the Willey family have failed to state claims.
In weighing a motion to dismiss, all of the allegations presented by the plaintiff, the Willey family, must be treated as true, defense lawyers argued, but the allegations must contain “enough facts to state a claim of relief that is plausible on its face,” a condition which lawyers for the school board argued has not been met.
The latest allegations accuse the St. Mary’s school board as well as Great Mills High School administrators, a school resource officer and a swim coach of not taking reasonable steps to tackle alleged abuse Jaelynn Willey was suffering at the hands of Austin Rollins, the student who shot and killed her in 2018. The county commissioners are also accused in some charges of failing to require school resource officer Dep. Blaine Gaskill to provide adequate security.
The school lawyers’ motion to dismiss claims there are no statements alleging the school board could have “actual knowledge” of the potential for abuse, besides the mention of Jaelynn Willey’s swim coach, Troy Kroll, being notified of abusive behavior by Rollins.
“Not only is this allegation ... so vague and lacking in detail that it fails to raise the right to relief above a speculative level, but this lone allegation does even not plausibly suggest that there was a potential for abuse,” school lawyers wrote.
Lawyers also filed an affidavit from Kroll, recounting his memory of being told of abusive behavior.
“In or around November 2017 during an all-parent swim team meeting, Mrs. Willey made a comment to me in passing that she felt uncomfortable with [Jaelynn Willey] hanging out with a boy,” Kroll wrote in the affidavit, also adding she did not name the boy or provide any details, including if he was even a student at Great Mills.
“Mrs. Willey did not ask me to do anything with regards to her comment,” Kroll wrote, claiming he has “no knowledge whatsoever about Austin Rollins other than what has been reported in the media coverage of the school shooting.”
Lawyers from Leonardtown firm McClernan, William and Stack and two federal lawyers, who represent the Willey family, may file a response to the motion to dismiss on or before Oct. 21.