March 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 31

In this particular instance, however, given the severity of N.P.'s intellectual and language disability,
Plaintiffs claimed that " N.P. did not pose a threat "
based upon the responding officer, Officer True's assessment, which had found any claim of a threat to
be unfounded following his conversation with N.P.
Similarly, Plaintiffs noted that N.P. had been allowed
to remain at the camp for the rest of the day. As a
result, Plaintiffs claimed that the Town's suspension
of N.P., " not only from the rest of camp, but from
any facility or activity for 60 days was arbitrary and
unreasonable and based on fears or stereotypes of
mentally disabled individuals. "
In the opinion of the federal district court, such
" threats " must be assessed in context. At the outset
of this particular situation, the court found the Town
had apparently overlooked the context of N.P.'s
threats. Moreover, the court noted that common
sense should have guided an assessment of these
threats within context:	
For example, a six-year-old child proclaiming, " I'll
kill you if you tell Mom I ate the cookie " has, in context, hardly made a death threat, though one might try
to make it so by reciting merely, " I'll kill you " out of
context. Common sense, it is often correctly noted, is
not so common, but in its pursuit, context is of course
everything.
Further, in the opinion of the court, it was " not
clear from Plaintiffs' complaint or Defendant's answer whether N.P. did or did not make the referenced threats. " On one hand, the court noted that
the complaint indicated " another camper heard N.P.
make comments, which that camper interpreted as
threats. " On the other hand, the court found the
complaint acknowledged that N.P. had denied making any threats while speaking to Officer True.

would have been understood by reasonable people. "
Moreover, in considering the context of the Town's
suspension decision, the court would adopt the perspective of reasonable people, " acting in good faith, "
who would be " unburdened by misguided fears or
stereotypes related to mental disabilities. "
In the opinion of the federal district court, the pretrial
record did not clearly indicate whether " [N.P.'s] words,
even if uttered as Defendant claims, could have been
reasonably understood by reasonable people actually
informed of [N.P.'s] disability as actionable 'threats,'
or as posing any safety concern under the actual circumstances. "
Accordingly, the court would deny Defendant's
motion for summary judgment and require further
proceedings and a potential jury trial to resolve the
questions surrounding the credibility N.P.'s threats
and whether Defendant's safety concerns were real or
misguided under the circumstances of this case.

Real Threat or Misguided Fear?
Given these " factual ambiguities " within Plaintiffs'
complaint and Defendant's answer, the federal district court found it was " obvious that a more fully
developed record is necessary before the court could
properly rule " on Defendant's motion to resolve to
Plaintiffs' claims without any further trial proceedings. As described by the federal district court, a
more fully developed record was needed to consider
" the full relevant context in which the words triggering Defendant's actions were spoken, and how they
	

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March 2021 - Parks & Recreation

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of March 2021 - Parks & Recreation

March 2021 - Parks & Recreation - Cover1
March 2021 - Parks & Recreation - Cover2
March 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 1
March 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 2
March 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 3
March 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 4
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March 2021 - Parks & Recreation - Cover3
March 2021 - Parks & Recreation - Cover4
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/july-2022
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https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/march-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/february-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/january-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/december-2021
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https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/august-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/july-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/june-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/may-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/april-2021
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