March 28, 2019
from the United States District Court for the Southern
District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division. No. 16-cv-02789 -
Tanya Walton Pratt, Judge.
Ripple, Manion, and Sykes, Circuit Judges.
MANION, CIRCUIT JUDGE.
Wanko brought this suit under Title VI of the Civil Rights
Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2OOOd, alleging Indiana University (IU)
discriminated against her by having her retake her entire
first-year curriculum at IU's School of Dentistry. In
discovery, IU produced spreadsheets containing the
demographics and grades of the students in Wanko's class.
Those spreadsheets showed no student, let alone one outside
of a protected class, was similarly situated to Wanko. Wanko
moved to compel the production of the actual student records,
but that motion was denied. As Wanko was unable to show a
sufficient comparator for her discrimination claim, the
district court granted summary judgment to IU. We affirm.
is a naturalized United States citizen from Cameroon. She
began her dental studies at IU in Fall 2014. During the
2014-2015 school year, Wanko failed to complete successfully
two courses: Removable Prosthodontics (RP) and Single Tooth
Indirect Restorations (STI). Based on her grades in those
classes, IU allowed Wanko the opportunity to remediate RP in
Summer 2015 and retake STI in Spring 2016.
of eight students, including Wanko, attempted to remediate
RP. To pass the remediation course, a student had to score at
least 80% on the exam. Wanko scored 71%. On June 22, 2015, IU
notified Wanko she would have to repeat the whole first-year
curriculum. She was the only student in her class to be held
back. After Wanko failed to complete her second attempt at
STI in Spring 2016, IU dismissed her.
long thereafter, Wanko, through counsel, reached out to IU.
In response, IU's general counsel emailed Wanko's
counsel stating one other student, identified as
"Student #2," also failed STI in Spring 2015.
IU's counsel explained IU allowed Student #2 to proceed
into the second-year curriculum "because she failed only
one class and had a cumulative GPA above 2.0." The email
showed Student #2 had a Spring 2015 GPA of 2.131. Wanko's
GPA was 1.965.
brought suit in October 2016. She claimed IU discriminated
against her on the basis of race when it failed to promote
her to the second-year curriculum. In her complaint, Wanko
alleged two or three similarly situated, non-black students
were promoted when she was not. That charge was based on a
conversation Wanko had with the professor who taught STI in
2015. He told her two or three students failed his course and
would retake it the next year. He did not reveal any
demographics about those students.
discovery, Wanko sought information about the demographics
and grades of her former classmates. In response, IU produced
spreadsheets showing the GPA, grades, race, and gender of
each student in Wanko's class. IU did not provide the
students' names, but it assigned every student a number
as an identifier. IU says it chose this method of production
out of concern for its responsibilities under the Family
Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), which set
up safeguards concerning the release of student information.
See 20 U.S.C. § l232g. IU's spreadsheets
showed only two students had failed both RP and STI in the
2014-2015 school year: Wanko and another black female, the
"Student #2" from the general counsel's email
(IU identifies her as "Student #57 in the spreadsheets,
but we will continue to refer to her as "Student
#2"). Unlike Wanko, however, Student #2 successfully
remediated RP and was allowed to proceed to the second-year
curriculum despite her failing grade in STI.
was not satisfied with IU's spreadsheets. She moved to
compel production of the actual student records, claiming she
needed them to know which white students in her class failed
STL She argued the spreadsheets are unreliable because the
GPA for Student #2 is different than the GPA the general
counsel had reported earlier. The general counsel had
provided a GPA of 2.131, whereas the spreadsheets reported a
GPA of 2.568. Responding to Wanko's motion, IU explained
the discrepancy was because the general counsel provided
Student #2's Spring 2015 GPA, but the spreadsheets
provided Student #2's cumulative GPA.
magistrate judge orally denied Wanko's motion during a
telephonic discovery conference. Because IU had provided
Wanko with the demographic and grade information in the
spreadsheets, the judge concluded Wanko had not shown she
needed the actual student records. The judge also concluded
Wanko had not shown the spreadsheets lacked veracity. After
that oral denial, Wanko filed a written motion making the
same arguments, which the magistrate judge also denied.
objected to the district court. While that objection was
pending, IU moved for summary judgment. Wanko, rather than
responding to the motion, moved to postpone ruling on ...