Case: Doe v. Madison Metropolitan School District

2020CV000454 | Wisconsin state trial court

Filed Date: Feb. 18, 2020

Closed Date: June 30, 2023

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On February 18, 2020, a group of parents whose children were attending schools in the Madison Metropolitan School District filed this lawsuit in the Dane County Circuit Court under Wis. Stat. §§ 806.04 and 813.01 against the Madison Metropolitan School District. Plaintiffs claimed that the defendant adopted and implemented policies that violated the rights of district parents by enabling children, of any age, to change their gender identity at school without parental notice or consent, and inst…

On February 18, 2020, a group of parents whose children were attending schools in the Madison Metropolitan School District filed this lawsuit in the Dane County Circuit Court under Wis. Stat. §§ 806.04 and 813.01 against the Madison Metropolitan School District. Plaintiffs claimed that the defendant adopted and implemented policies that violated the rights of district parents by enabling children, of any age, to change their gender identity at school without parental notice or consent, and instructed district employees to conceal children’s gender identity information from their parents. The case was assigned to circuit court Judge Frank D. Remington.

Represented by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, the plaintiffs sought: (1) a declaration that the Madison School District’s Policy violates plaintiffs’ fundamental rights as parents, under both Article 1, Section 1 and Article 1, Section 18 of the Wisconsin Constitution; (2) a declaration that, notwithstanding the Madison School District’s Policy, teachers and staff: (a) may not facilitate a child’s social transition to a different gender identity at school without parental consent; (b) may communicate with parents if they have reason to believe their child may be dealing with gender dysphoria without first obtaining the child’s consent; and (c) may not attempt to deceive parents by, among other things, using different names and pronouns around parents than in school; (3) an injunction prohibiting the Madison School District from enabling children to socially transition to a different gender identity at school by selecting a new “affirmed name and pronouns” without parental notice or consent; (4) an injunction prohibiting the Madison School District from preventing teachers and other staff from communicating with parents that their child may be dealing with gender dysphoria, or that their child has or wants to change gender identity, without first obtaining the child’s consent, and from training teachers and other staff to follow such a policy; (5) an injunction prohibiting District staff from actively deceiving parents by, among other things, using different names for their child around parents than in the school setting; (6) an injunction requiring the District to retrain staff in accordance with this Court’s holding in this case; and (7) such other relief as the Court would deem proper.

On February 19, 2020, plaintiffs filed a motion for a temporary injunction prohibiting the District from: (1) enabling children to socially transition to a different gender identity at school by  selecting  a  new  “affirmed  named  and  pronouns,”  without  parental  notice  or  consent;  (2)  preventing  teachers  and  other  staff  from  communicating  with  parents  that  their  child  may  be  dealing with gender dysphoria, or that their child has or wants to change gender identity,  without the  child’s  consent;  and  (3)  deceiving  parents  by  using  different  names  and  pronouns  around parents than at school.

On March 3, 2020, the defendant filed a motion to dismiss the case on the basis that plaintiffs lacked standing to pursue their asserted claims. On May 4, 2020, three high school student groups, represented by Quarles & Brady and the ACLU, moved to intervene as defendants in support of the motion to dismiss, and joined the existing defendant’s opposition to plaintiffs’ request to proceed anonymously in the case. On June 1, the Circuit Court granted the intervenor-defendants’ motion to intervene in the case.

On June 12, 2020, the plaintiffs filed a motion to stay pending appeal. Shortly thereafter, on June 17, 2020, the plaintiffs filed a petition for permissive appeal with the Wisconsin Court of Appeals. The plaintiffs filed a motion for an injunction on June 25, 2020 pending their appeal of the Circuit Court’s denial of their request to proceed anonymously in this action.

On September 28, 2020, the Circuit Court issued an order partially granting and partially denying plaintiffs’ motion for an injunction pending appeal. The Court enjoined defendant Madison Metropolitan School District, pending plaintiffs’ appeal, from applying or enforcing any policy, guideline, or practice reflected or recommended in its document entitled “Guidance & Policies to Support Transgender, Non-binary & Gender-Expansive Students” in any manner that allows or requires District staff to conceal information or to answer untruthfully in response to any question that parents ask about their child at school, including information about the name and pronouns being used to address their child at school. The Court again denied plaintiffs’ request to proceed anonymously, but allowed the status quo of anonymity to proceed temporarily while appeals proceeded in higher courts.

Plaintiffs filed a motion with the Wisconsin Court of Appeals for an injunction pending appeal on October 10, 2020. On November 2, 2020 the Wisconsin Court of Appeals denied the plaintiffs’ motion. The plaintiffs next petitioned the Wisconsin Supreme Court for review. On March 4, 2021, the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued an order denying the plaintiffs’ petition for review. Plaintiffs subsequently filed a renewed petition for review on August 13, 2021, which the Wisconsin Supreme Court granted on January 13, 2022.

On July 8, 2022, the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued a decision that (1) held the Circuit Court did not erroneously exercise its discretion by requiring disclosure of the plaintiffs’ identities to opposing attorneys, while allowing the parents to keep their names sealed and confidential as to the public and the district; (2) mooted the plaintiffs’ appeal of the circuit court's decision regarding plaintiff confidentiality, which the Court of Appeals had affirmed; and (3) remanded the case to the Circuit Court for further adjudication of the plaintiffs’ substantive claims.

The Circuit Court issued an order on November 23, 2022 dismissing all of plaintiffs’ claims for declaratory and injunctive relief for lack of standing, holding that plaintiffs did not actually predict or anticipate any harm as required, but “nevertheless [sought] a declaratory judgment that a transgender student policy of the Madison Metropolitan School District…violates [their] constitutional right to parent.” Plaintiffs subsequently filed motions for an injunction pending appeal and a stay of sanctions imposed for discovery violations.

On January 20, 2023, the Circuit Court issued an order denying an injunction pending appeal, holding that plaintiffs failed to meet any of the criteria for the injunction and stay of sanctions.

On May 19, 2023, the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued an order denying plaintiffs’ motion for an injunction pending appeal and petition to bypass the Court of Appeals, holding that the because the case was dismissed by the Circuit Court on the grounds that plaintiffs lacked standing, the case should proceed as normal in the Court of Appeals and that no expedited attention from the Supreme Court was necessary.

Plaintiffs filed a notice of dismissal on June 30, 2023 with the Wisconsin Court of Appeals in light of the only remaining plaintiff withdrawing their child from the Madison Metropolitan School District, which meant the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty now lacked standing to proceed in the case.

This case is now closed.

Summary Authors

Alex DiLalla (4/23/2024)

People


Attorney for Plaintiff

Esenberg, Richard M. (Wisconsin)

Esenberg, Richard M. (Wisconsin)

Esenberg, Richard M. (Wisconsin)

Expert/Monitor/Master/Other

Esenberg, Richard M.

show all people

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document
2

2020CV000454

Summons

Feb. 18, 2020

Feb. 18, 2020

Complaint
157

2020CV000454

Order Granting and Denying Plaintiffs’ Motion For an Injunction Pending Appeal

Sept. 28, 2020

Sept. 28, 2020

Order/Opinion
159

2020AP1032

Order Denying Motion for Injunctive Relief Pending Appeal

Wisconsin state appellate court

Nov. 2, 2020

Nov. 2, 2020

Order/Opinion
162

2020AP1032

Order Denying Petition for Review

Wisconsin state supreme court

March 4, 2021

March 4, 2021

Order/Opinion

2020AP1032

Order Granting Petition for Review

Wisconsin state supreme court

Jan. 13, 2022

Jan. 13, 2022

Order/Opinion

993 N.W.2d 993

2020AP1032

Decision

Wisconsin state supreme court

July 8, 2022

July 8, 2022

Order/Opinion

976 N.W.2d 976

312

2020CV000454

Decision and Order

Nov. 23, 2022

Nov. 23, 2022

Order/Opinion
383

2020CV000454

Decision and Order

Jan. 20, 2023

Jan. 20, 2023

Order/Opinion

2022AP2042

Order Regarding Petition for Bypass

Wisconsin state supreme court

March 3, 2023

March 3, 2023

Order/Opinion

2023AP305

2022AP2042

2023AP306

Order Denying Plaintiff-Appellant-Petitioner's Motion for Injunction Pending Appeal and Petition to Bypass

Wisconsin state supreme court

May 9, 2023

May 9, 2023

Order/Opinion

Resources

Docket

Last updated Aug. 30, 2023, 1:40 p.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: Wisconsin

Case Type(s):

Education

Key Dates

Filing Date: Feb. 18, 2020

Closing Date: June 30, 2023

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

A group of parents whose children were attending schools in the Madison Metropolitan School District.

Plaintiff Type(s):

City/County Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Madison Metropolitan School District (Dane), School District

Defendant Type(s):

Jurisdiction-wide

Elementary/Secondary School

Case Details

Causes of Action:

State law

Available Documents:

Complaint (any)

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Defendant

Nature of Relief:

None

Source of Relief:

None

Issues

LGBTQ+:

LGBTQ+