Daniel v. Huntsville City Board of Education et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DISMISSING CASE that the defendants' motions for summary judgment are GRANTED and Plaintiff's claims for race discrimination, retaliation, and hostile work environment pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 1983 are DISMISSED with prejudice; Plaintiff's state law claim for tortious interference is DISMISSED without prejudice, costs are taxed to plaintiff, as more fully set out in order. Signed by Judge C Lynwood Smith, Jr on 4/11/2018. (AHI)
2018 Apr-11 PM 02:13
U.S. DISTRICT COURT
N.D. OF ALABAMA
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
BRENDA L. DANIEL,
HUNTSVILLE CITY BOARD
OF EDUCATION, et al.,
Civil Action No. 5:16-cv-1919-CLS
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiff, Brenda Daniel, a former employee of the Huntsville City Board of
Education (“the Board”), asserts that she was subjected to unlawful race
discrimination, retaliation, and a racially hostile work environment, and she seeks
redress for those alleged wrongs pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1981 and 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
The defendants to her claims are the Board; Eugene C. “Casey” Wardynski, the
former Superintendent, who is sued in his individual capacity; and Presonia Lynette
Alexander, the former Principal of Westlawn Middle School, who is sued in her
individual capacity. Plaintiff also asserts pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a) a
supplemental state law claim against defendant Alexander for tortious interference
with her business relationship with the Board.1 The case currently is before the court
See doc. no. 1 (Complaint). Plaintiff asserts her § 1981 claims “by and through” 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. See, e.g., id. ¶ 1. See also Butts v. County of Volusia, 222 F.3d 891, 892 (11th Cir. 2000)
on motions for summary judgment filed by the Board,2 Alexander,3 and Wardynski.4
Upon consideration of the briefs and evidentiary submissions, the court concludes
that all motions for summary judgment are due to be granted.
I. SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 provides that a court “shall grant summary
judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact
and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). In
other words, summary judgment is proper “after adequate time for discovery and
upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the
existence of an element essential to that party’s case, and on which that party will
bear the burden of proof at trial.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).
“In making this determination, the court must review all evidence and make all
reasonable inferences in favor of the party opposing summary judgment.” Chapman
v. AI Transport, 229 F.3d 1012, 1023 (11th Cir. 2000) (en banc) (quoting Haves v.
City of Miami, 52 F.3d 918, 921 (11th Cir. 1995)). Inferences in favor of the non-
(holding that “§ 1983 contains the sole cause of action against state actors for violations of § 1981”).
Plaintiff’s complaint originally also asserted her federal claims against the individual members of
the Board, in their respective individual capacities, but those claims were dismissed on April 6,
2017. See doc. no. 20.
Doc. no. 28 (Board’s Motion for Summary Judgment).
Doc. no. 31 (Alexander’s Motion for Summary Judgment).
Doc. no. 33 (Wardynski’s Motion for Summary Judgment).
moving party are not unqualified, however. “[A]n inference is not reasonable if it is
‘only a guess or a possibility,’ for such an inference is not based on the evidence, but
is pure conjecture and speculation.” Daniels v. Twin Oaks Nursing Home, 692 F.2d
1321, 1324 (11th Cir. 1983) (alteration supplied). Moreover,
[t]he mere existence of some factual dispute will not defeat summary
judgment unless that factual dispute is material to an issue affecting the
outcome of the case. The relevant rules of substantive law dictate the
materiality of a disputed fact. A genuine issue of material fact does not
exist unless there is sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party
for a reasonable jury to return a verdict in its favor.
Chapman, 229 F.3d at 1023 (quoting Haves, 52 F.3d at 921) (emphasis and alteration
supplied). See also Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251-52 (1986)
(asking “whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require
submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a
matter of law”).
II. SUMMARY OF FACTS
Plaintiff’s Employment at Westlawn Middle School
Plaintiff, Brenda L. Daniel, is a white female. She applied for a teaching
position with the Huntsville City School System during the summer of 2014.5 She
was hired to replace a seventh grade math teacher at Westlawn Middle School during
Doc. no. 30-1 (Deposition of Brenda Daniel), at 38-39.
August of that same year.6 A review committee selected three applicants to interview
for the position, and defendant Lynette Alexander, the black female Principal of
Westlawn, conducted in-person interviews of each applicant.7 Principal Alexander
recommended plaintiff for hire, and the Board approved the selection.8 Plaintiff
began teaching at Westlawn on August 25, 2014, three weeks after the 2014-15
school year had begun.9
During the 2014-15 school year, Westlawn was characterized as a “turn-around
school,” meaning that its test scores had been in the bottom ten percent of the State,
and the school had received a five-million-dollar federal School Improvement Grant
to help turn the school around.10 As part of those efforts, eighty percent of the school
faculty had been changed during the 2012-13 school year. The Board also was
required to hire consultants to train teachers on discipline plans, strategic planning,
following lesson plans, and other classroom issues.11
Plaintiff signed an agreement on October 16, 2014, to provide “Extended
Learning Time” tutorial services in addition to her regular classroom teaching duties.
Doc. no. 30-14 (Affidavit of Presonia Lynette Alexander), ¶ 7.
Doc. no. 30-4 (Deposition of Casey Wardynski), at 19-20; doc. no. 30-14 (Affidavit of
Presonia Lynette Alexander), at ¶ 7; doc. no. 30-1 (Deposition of Brenda Daniel), at 40-41.
Doc. no. 30-14 (Affidavit of Presonia Lynette Alexander), ¶ 7.
Id., ¶ 3.
Id., ¶ 5.
Micah Fisher, the Human Resources Manager, also signed the agreement on behalf
of the Board. The agreement stated:
WHEREAS, the undersigned Brenda Daniel (hereinafter
“Daniel”) is employed with the Huntsville City Board of Education
(hereinafter “Board”); and
WHEREAS, Daniel has temporarily been assigned by the Board
to serve during Extended Learning Time at Westlawn Middle School
from August 26, 2014, through May 27, 2017; and
WHEREAS, in such position, Daniel shall work no more than 5
hours per week and shall be paid at a rate of $27.10 per hour, payable on
a monthly basis upon receipt of properly authorized timesheets which
are due on the same date as Payroll Service Reports; and
WHEREAS, the funds shall be made available from Federal
NOW, THEREFORE, the parties hereto agree as follows:
During the period of time Daniel serves during Extended
Learning Time at Westlawn Middle School, Daniel shall be
paid at a rate of $27.10 per hour.
The parties hereto understand and agree that Daniel’s
temporary assignment will end at the appropriate date as
indicated in this agreement.
This agreement may be terminated upon five (5) days
written notification by either party.
Doc. no. 47-9 (Agreement) (emphasis supplied).
Plaintiff’s Allegations of Mistreatment by Principal Alexander
Plaintiff testified that Principal Alexander treated her “favorite teachers” more
favorably than others, including plaintiff. Principal Alexander did not yell at her
“favorites,” humiliate them, or “write them up” for disciplinary infractions. Principal
Alexander’s “favorites” included both white and black teachers, and most were
teachers who had been assigned to Westlawn through the “Teach for America”
program. A group of teachers had complained the previous year to Superintendent
Casey Wardynski, a white male, about Principal Alexander’s behavior, and plaintiff
began to suspect that Principal Alexander treated those teachers more favorably so
she would not be the subject of any further complaints.12
Plaintiff also alleges that Principal Alexander treated her unfavorably because
of her race. She never heard Principal Alexander make any racially derogatory
comments, however.13 Instead, she contends that Principal Alexander’s written
reprimands and other reactions to plaintiff’s job performance demonstrated a racial
Plaintiff’s interactions with an educational vendor
Kristy Hill, a consultant from an educational vendor known as “Pearson
Education,” met with Westlawn’s seventh and eighth grade teachers on September
Doc. no. 30-1 (Deposition of Brenda Daniel), at 56-60.
Id. at 300.
23, 2014. Hill asked the teachers for their opinions on the math curriculum provided
by Pearson, and plaintiff responded that she thought the curriculum was not userfriendly and did not cover the material with sufficient depth. Plaintiff characterized
her interaction with Hill as professional and courteous, and she testified that Hill
thanked her and other teachers for their comments after the meeting.14 Even so, Hill
informed someone working at the Board’s central office that a teacher had been
confrontational during the meeting, and the Board employee in turn informed
Principal Alexander. Principal Alexander identified plaintiff as the teacher about
whom Hill had complained and sent plaintiff an email the same day as the meeting,
I am concerned after some of the comments shared during the
Pearson training today. Whether or not to use Pearson daily is not an
option. Pearson is a district initiative which must be used and
We are here to support your instructional efforts but your success
is going to also depend on your commitment to the classroom
management plan and your effective implementation of the curriculum.
Please let the Westlawn staff know if you need any assistance not the
Pearson reps! Feel free to let me know if I can assistance you [sic] in
Doc. no. 30-2, at ECF 4 (September 23, 2014 email). Plaintiff responded the
following morning by stating:
Id. at 71-72; doc. no. 47-1 (Declaration of Brenda L. Daniel), ¶ 7.
I told the Pearson rep that I didn’t use schoolnet every day
because I can’t count on the internet. I also told her that I use the
snapshot tool from Promethean to copy the material from digits into a
flipchart. Everything taught in my class is from digits and
occasionally I have to supplement the material. I told her I am not a fan
of digits and I have used Pearson for the past 5 years and I do not feel
this curriculum is student friendly.
If you would like to see any of my flipcharts please let me know
and I will print them off for your review.
Id. Principal Alexander replied, at a date and time that cannot be discerned from the
The use of Pearson is NOT an option! It is the curriculum
adopted by Huntsville City Schools. It does not benefit anyone to share
your dislike or feelings with the Pearson Reps. She is tasked with
training teachers not selling the program. Please save your candid
concerns for your Westlawn family members so [we] can try to help you
resolve problems internally.
Please let us know how we can help!
Id. (alteration supplied). Principal Alexander testified that she did not intend her
emails to plaintiff to be disciplinary in nature, and she did not include copies in
plaintiff’s personnel file.16
On September 26, 2014, three days after the meeting in which plaintiff made
comments about Pearson’s math curriculum to Kristy Hill, Ms. Hill sent an email to
Although it is not clear from the record, “schoolnet” and “digits” apparently are aspects
of the Pearson program.
Doc. no. 30-14 (Affidavit of Presonia Lynette Alexander), ¶ 8.
Thank you for allowing me to observe your class. I felt you did
a very good job explaining the concepts to the students in a way they
can relate to their everyday life. The students respond well to you. It
was smart to make a flip chart with the digits content due to internet
issues this week. You seem to have a good handle on the material and
Doc. no. 30-3, at ECF 56 (September 26, 2014 email).
Teacher development meeting
On the same date that plaintiff received the foregoing email from Kristy Hill
(September 26, 2014), Principal Alexander conducted a teacher development meeting
at Westlawn. She showed a video of the story of “Ferdinand the Bull”17 to the entire
faculty, and stated in a mocking manner that certain teachers were only there to draw
paychecks and would be fired at the end of the year. She threw pieces of paper
around the room that supposedly depicted the teachers who would lose their jobs at
the end of the year. She also brought a dozen roses into the meeting room and “would
ease over and smell those roses because supposedly . . . some of us were there only
to smell the roses . . . .”18 Alexander did not mention the names of any specific
teachers, but she employed a “hostile and degrading tone” when speaking, and
Ferdinand the Bull is the titular character of the children’s book The Story of Ferdinand,
which “tells the story of a bull who would rather smell flowers than fight in bullfights. He sits in
the middle of the bull ring failing to take heed of any of the provocations of the matador and others
to fight.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Story_of_Ferdinand, last visited April 5, 2018.
Doc. no. 30-1 (Deposition of Brenda Daniel), at 61-62 (ellipsis supplied).
plaintiff felt humiliated and degraded.19 Alexander testified that she gave a similar
speech to her faculty each year because Westlawn was a “turnaround school,” and she
wanted to convey a sense of urgency to the staff.20
Immediately after the conclusion of the teacher development meeting , plaintiff
was called into a private meeting with Principal Alexander, Vice Principal Amy Van
Allen (who is white), Luke Bergeson (a Teacher on Special Assignment, who is
white), and the Turnaround Coach Melissa Smith, who is white.21 Plaintiff was
handed an “Immediate Action Form” bearing that day’s date, and stating, “During
observation held on 9/26/14, the following instructional component(s) were NOT
evident and corrective actions must be taken immediately.”22 No boxes were checked
under the categories labeled “Lesson Planning/Instruction,” “Use of Strategies,” or
“Classroom Structures,” but under the category of “Discipline” boxes were checked
for “follow the 5-Step Discipline Plan” and “Consequences and Rewards for
Adherence of Classroom Rules and Procedures.”23 Under the heading “Effective Use
Doc. no. 47-1 (Declaration of Brenda Daniel), ¶ 9; doc. no. 30-1 (Deposition of Brenda
Daniel), at 62.
Doc. no. 30-14 (Affidavit of Presonia Lynette Alexander), ¶ 9.
Doc. no. 30-1 (Deposition of Brenda Daniel), at 42-44, 48, 62-68. A Teacher on Special
Assignment is “assigned to schools to help principals perform administrative duties.” Doc. no. 3012 (Affidavit of Luke Bergeson), ¶ 3. Principal Alexander acknowledged that Bergeson did not have
an administrative certificate, but he was in training to be an administrator. Doc. no. 30-3 (Deposition
of Presonia Lynette Alexander), at 34-35.
Doc. no. 30-2, at ECF 2-3.
of Time,” boxes were checked for “Bell to Bell Instruction,” “Move Around the
Room to Ensure Students Are On Task,” and “Monitor the Effective Use of
Technology.”24 In closing, the form stated:
The above checked item(s) have been noted and must be
addressed immediately. The Administrative Staff and Instructional
Partners are available to assist you. However, your unwillingness to
correct these essential instructional components expeditiously will result
in the placement of a letter documenting in your action [sic] in your
HCS [i.e., Huntsville City Schools] Human Resource file.
Remember, Student Growth is our business!
Doc. no. 30-2, at ECF 2-3 (alteration supplied). The letter was jointly signed by
Principal Alexander, Amelia (“Amy”) Van Allen, and Luke Bergeson as the
“Westlawn Administrative Staff.”25
During the meeting at which the Immediate Action Form was discussed,
Principal Alexander told plaintiff that she “had people” in plaintiff’s classroom, and
it had been determined by those “people” that plaintiff did not know her curriculum.26
When plaintiff asked for the identities of those persons who allegedly had been in her
classroom as observers, Principal Alexander “violently threw her hand in [plaintiff’s]
face,” causing plaintiff to believe that she would be slapped, and said to plaintiff:
Id. at ECF 3.
Doc. no. 30-1 (Deposition of Brenda Daniel), at 66.
“‘We are not going to talk about other teachers.’”27 Plaintiff grew concerned that she
would be fired because Principal Alexander had just referenced firing teachers in the
teacher development meeting that preceded the private meeting, and the form
discussed in the subsequent private meeting referenced “immediate action.” Even so,
she could not recall anything else that occurred during the private meeting with the
“Westlawn Administrative Staff.”28 Despite Principal Alexander’s assertion that
plaintiff’s classroom behavior had been observed by unidentified “people,” plaintiff
testified that no administrators had observed, or even been present in her classroom,
before September 26.29
Although plaintiff was the first teacher to meet privately with the “Westlawn
Administrative Staff,” other teachers met individually with Principal Alexander, Vice
Principal Amy Van Allen, Luke Bergeson, and Melissa Smith on September 26. Even
so, plaintiff only heard the names of two other teachers being called to their meetings
over the public address system, and both of those teachers were white.30 Despite that
assertion, Principal Alexander testified that she met with both white and black
teachers on September 26 “to review classroom observation checklists and discuss
Id. at 66-67 (alteration supplied).
Id. at 67-69.
Id. at 68; doc. no. 47-1 (Declaration of Brenda Daniel), ¶ 10.
Doc. no. 30-1 (Deposition of Brenda Daniel), at 64; doc. no. 47-1 (Declaration of Brenda
Daniel, ¶ 11.
items identified as needing immediate action.”31 The meetings and observation
checklists “were not disciplinary, but rather, intended to help teachers improve.”32
Plaintiff leaves her classroom
Of approximately twenty-four students in plaintiff’s Westlawn classroom, ten
to fourteen possessed “Warriors on Watch” (WOW) cards, meaning that they had
documented disciplinary problems. The class had started the school year behind in
their studies, because the substitute teacher who had been managing the classroom
prior to the date on which plaintiff began teaching at Westlawn (August 25, 2014)
had not progressed the curriculum. Plaintiff was having trouble maintaining order in
the classroom and catching up the curriculum, and she had asked both Vice Principal
Amy Van Allen and Teacher on Special Assignment Luke Bergeson for help, but she
did not receive any assistance.
Plaintiff became so frustrated with student
misbehavior and lack of order in her classroom that, on October 16, 2014, she began
to cry, left her classroom, walked to Mr. Bergeson’s office, and said: “You’re going
to have to get me a sub because I’ve got to go home because I can’t handle this
today.”33 Bergeson asked Crystal Alexander, the Curriculum Coach, to cover
Doc. no. 30-14 (Affidavit of Presonia Lynette Alexander), ¶ 9.
Doc. no. 30-1 (Deposition of Brenda Daniel), at 94-95. Bergeson testified that plaintiff
said, “you can do whatever you need to with the class but I am leaving.” Doc. no. 30-12 (Affidavit
of Luke Bergeson), ¶ 6. At this summary judgment stage, however, the court must accept plaintiff’s
version of her comment as being true.
plaintiff’s classroom.34 Plaintiff sat in her car crying for an undisclosed period of
time, then called Vice Principal Amy Van Allen, who asked her to come back inside
the school. Plaintiff complied, then talked to Van Allen, who listened to plaintiff’s
concerns, acknowledged there were too many students in the class with disciplinary
problems, and promised to help plaintiff.35
Principal Alexander sent plaintiff a letter on October 22, 2014, stating:
This letter is to express my concern regarding you leaving your
class unattended on Thursday, October 16, 2014. According to the
office staff, you entered the front office and abruptly stated, “You could
do whatever we needed to with the class, but I am leaving.” You then
proceeded out the front door abandoning your second period class.
You decided to return to the building and a conference was held
with our Director of Instruction, the TOSA [i.e., Teacher on Special
Assignment] and myself. I expressed my expectations regarding full
implementation of the school-wide discipline plan and your solicitation
of help from the administrative team as needed when dealing [with]
disciplinary measures. The leadership team has made efforts to support
the implementation of your classroom management plan through
coaching, observations, reflective feedback, professional development
and team level support.
Abandoning your classroom during the instructional day is
unacceptable. As teachers, we must make every attempt to develop
positive relationships with students and how to respond to disruptive
behaviors in a reasonable, proactive manner. Classroom teachers must
possess the ability to communicate effectively, in order to have a
positive influence on the overall school climate.
Doc. no. 47-1 (Declaration of Brenda Daniel), ¶¶ 12, 14.
Id., ¶ 13; doc. no. 30-1 (Deposition of Brenda Daniel), at 96.
You are expected to understand the importance of your role in
changing Westlawn’s culture to that of an exemplary school.
This letter will be placed in your Human Resource file.
Doc. no. 30-2 (October 22, 2014 Letter) (alterations supplied).
Plaintiff acknowledged that no adult was physically present in her classroom
from the time she walked out until the time that Luke Bergeson sent Crystal
Alexander to cover the classroom, but she did leave the classroom door open, and the
teacher in the classroom across the hall was watching out for the classroom.36
October 21, 2014 walkthrough
Luke Bergeson and Crystal Alexander conducted a walkthrough observation
of plaintiff’s classroom on October 21, 2014. They reported their observations to
Principal Alexander, who issued the following letter to plaintiff on October 22, 2014:
During the weekly walkthrough held on Tuesday, October 21,
2014, the following classroom structures were noted:
Student Trackers were not current or complete (No PreAssessment Data for October)
Student Work was current and up-to-date
Focus Wall did not match activity or lesson plan
No evidence of consistency with Classroom Behavior
Doc. no. 30-1 (Deposition of Brenda Daniel), at 97.
Current Lesson Plans were not available in notebook
Daily Lesson Plans duplicated over several days
Student Work displayed is below grade (Example: Color
by number division worksheet)
Due to being a “Turnaround School,” we must place all of our
effort on the academic needs of our students. Classroom instructional
time must be targeted and focused on assisting students as they work to
obtain necessary academic skills. The leadership team has made efforts
to support the implementation of your classroom management plan
through coaching, observations, reflective feedback, professional
development and team level support.
It is your professional responsibility to be prepared for instruction
daily. Planning for effective classroom instruction creates a structured
learning environment for all students. Lesson plans, discipline plans
and a tardy log are an integral [part] of the School Improvement Grant
(SIG) and will be used as documentation for instructional accountability.
Teachers will be held liable for the mastery of presented objectives and
the day-to-day instruction in their classroom.
You are expected to implement all the aspects of the classroom
structures, which have been established, as school norms and
expectations for Westlawn Teachers. This letter will be placed in your
Westlawn Middle School personnel file. If this behavior continues,
documentation will be placed in your Human Resource file.
Doc. no. 30-2, at ECF 5 (October 22, 2014 Letter) (alteration supplied, all emphasis
Plaintiff disputes that most of the problems noted in the foregoing letter were
accurate. She explained that all classroom structure materials, including student
trackers, Focus Wall items, and student work display items, had been removed from
her classroom because the room had been used earlier that morning to administer
testing required by the Board.37 She also explained that math teachers compiled
student trackers based on unit completion, not on a monthly basis, so it was wrong
to criticize her for not having pre-assessment data for the month of October.38 She
stated that, if she had not been following the classroom behavior plan, it was because
she had not been trained on the plan.39 She disputed that current lesson plans were
unavailable, and asserted that the plan for the day of the observation simply was not
on top of the notebook, and she explained that math lesson plans often were
duplicated because the material had to be covered multiple times in order to ensure
students’ understanding.40 Finally, she explained that the student work displayed was
below grade level because the students were struggling with a foundational concept,
and she could not move on to more challenging topics until that concept had been
Crystal Alexander’s observation of plaintiff’s classroom
One week later, on October 28, 2014, Crystal Alexander, the Curriculum
Coach, entered plaintiff’s classroom during instructional time in order to collect data
Doc. no. 47-1 (Declaration of Brenda Daniel), ¶ 17.
Doc. no. 30-1 (Deposition of Brenda Daniel), at 85.
Id. at 86.
Id. at 88-89.
Id. at 89-90.
for the turn-around program. Plaintiff continued teaching, but Ms. Alexander called
her aside to ask some questions. Plaintiff attempted to respond in a low tone because
she did not want the students to hear what was being said, and Ms. Alexander asked
plaintiff to step outside to continue the conversation. Alexander accused plaintiff of
being defensive, and plaintiff responded, “I got to teach my class,” because she
believed teaching was the most important thing.42 Alexander asked plaintiff if she
wanted to go see Mr. Bergeson, the Teacher on Special Assignment, but plaintiff
declined, responding that she had a class to teach.43
Plaintiff denies being aggressive or confrontational during her exchange with
Crystal Alexander,44 but Ms. Alexander reported to Principal Alexander that plaintiff
was both aggressive and unprofessional, and that she yelled and cursed in the
presence of students.45 As a result, Principal Alexander wrote the following letter to
plaintiff on October 29, 2014:
This letter is to express my concern regarding your unprofessional
tone and resistance to the coaching support. On Tuesday, October 28,
2014, the Assistant Principal, TOSA and Instructional Partner were
asked to conduct a walkthrough in each class in preparation for a visit
by the Mayor and District officials. A checklist was created to inform
teachers of their need to address the classroom structures and norms
such as focus walls, lesson plans current and available, and word wall.
Id. at 120-21.
Id. at 121.
Doc. no. 47-1 (Declaration of Brenda Daniel), ¶ 15.
Doc. no. 30-14 (Affidavit of Presonia Lynette Alexander), ¶ 11.
The Instructional Partner [Crystal Alexander, who also is
sometimes referred to as “Curriculum Coach”] arrived in your classroom
to complete the checklist and you became both aggressive and
confrontational. Due to your mannerism, voice tone, and the presence
of students at the time in the classroom, she asked you to step outside.
While outside the classroom, you continued to express your concerns
about the Instructional Partner’s inaccurate recollection and report of
classroom structures during the walkthrough last week. You implied
that you were written up because of these inaccuracies and that the
(leadership team) was not good at recognizing and admitted their
mistakes. Because the Instructional Coach was bewildered and insulted
by your tone and aggressiveness, she reported this incident to the
Assistant Principal and a meeting was held to address [the] incident.
During this meeting, the role and support of the Instructional Partner
Your tone toward the Instructional Partner was unprofessional and
provides evidence of your ongoing resistance to the coaching process.
Your unwelcoming response to the classroom visit by members of the
Leadership Team is unacceptable. Your classroom should be
welcoming, open and a haven for improvement of best teaching
practices. Moreover, the time to express concerns regarding
walkthroughs was during the Walkthrough/Follow-up/Feedback
meeting, not in the middle of your classroom.
The Leadership Team has made numerous attempts to express the
importance of your participation in the process to become a Professional
Learning Community. Westlawn Middle will conduct weekly
walkthroughs, schedule daily job-embedded professional development,
model for teachers, facilitate team collaboration, participate in the
coaching process and conduct data analysis. We expect full
participation of all teachers as we implement sound instructional
practices and the Instructional Partner is expect[ed] to support the
classroom teacher in those efforts.
This letter will be placed in your Human Reource file.
Doc. no. 30-2, at ECF 10-11 (October 29, 2014 Letter) (alterations supplied).
On that same date, October 29, 2014, Assistant Principal Amy Van Allen and
Teacher on Special Assignment Luke Bergeson expressed concern to Principal
Alexander that plaintiff was not providing some students a fair opportunity to
participate in the learning process. Principal Alexander also received requests from
parents and students that certain students be removed from plaintiff’s classroom.
Principal Alexander agreed that it was in those students’ best interest to be removed
from plaintiff’s classroom,46 and she sent the following letter on that same date:
The letter is to express my concern regarding schedule changes to
remove students from your classes. The Assistant Principal and TOSA
expressed concerns about your willingness to give these students a fair
opportunity to participate in the learning experiences in your classroom.
After much deliberation, I decided a schedule change was in the best
interest of the students. On Monday, October 27, 2014, the second
student was scheduled out of your classroom. I continue to have
students making verbal requests to be removed from your classroom.
However, we cannot continue to move students out of your
classroom. You are expected to make every effort to develop
relationships with students, consistently implement the classroom
management plan, teach students where they are academically, provide
a consistent, nurturing classroom environment and accept the
suggestions for strategies and classroom environment offered by the
The letter will be placed in your Westlawn Middle School
personnel file. If this behavior continues, a letter will be placed in your
Human Resource file at Central Office.
Id., ¶ 12.
Doc. no. 30-2, at ECF 9 (October 29, 2014 Letter).
Plaintiff was aware of only two students being removed from her classroom.
The first was a female of unspecified race who consistently was reprimanded for
failing to finish eating her breakfast on time. The girl brought a letter to school from
her father stating that he was giving his permission, upon request from Principal
Alexander, to move the girl to a different classroom. The second was a black male
who caused trouble for all of his teachers. He bumped into plaintiff one time in the
hallway, and he also used physical force to enter plaintiff’s classroom after she had
forbidden him to enter during non-instructional time. Plaintiff requested that the male
student be removed from her classroom because she was afraid of him.47
Plaintiff’s comments about a disabled student
While plaintiff was chaperoning a bowling trip for a group of students, she
noticed that one female student smelled like urine. Because that student was in her
class and she had smelled the urine odor before, plaintiff mentioned it to the school
nurse, who also was chaperoning the trip. The nurse helped the student change
clothes, and then asked plaintiff to suggest to the student that she visit the nurse at
school if plaintiff smelled urine again. On a later date, December 1, 2014, plaintiff
witnessed the same student squatting in the hallway to use the bathroom. She
Doc. no. 30-1 (Deposition of Brenda Daniel), at 107-16; doc. no. 47-1 (Declaration of
Brenda Daniel), ¶ 23.
mentioned the student’s situation to other teachers during a data meeting that
afternoon, and suggested that the other teachers also send the student to the nurse if
they ever smelled or observed urine.48 Plaintiff testified that she brought up the topic
out of concern for the student.49
Principal Alexander wrote a letter to plaintiff regarding this situation on
December 1, 2014, stating:
This letter is to express my concern regarding your initiation of
an inappropriate discussion regarding an incident with a student. This
discussion took place during our regularly scheduled Professional
Learning Communities (PLC) meeting held on Monday, December 1st.
During this meeting, you abruptly asked an entire team of teachers if any
of them witnessed this particular student pulling her pants down in the
hallway and using the bathroom. These comments were inappropriate,
unnecessary and alerting to some of the teachers in attendance.
It is my understanding that this child was experiencing some
medical complications as she was leaving the clinic and you were
leaving the bathroom in the same area. The Security Officer and
counselor were making efforts to assist getting the child back to the
school nurse. Your recollection of the incident as shared with the
teachers was insensitive and purposeless.
The discussion also posed no intent for help or solution for the
child. It was a non-solution oriented discussion. If you had a true
concern for the student’s actions, you should have immediately reported
the incident to the school administration, school nurse or school
counselor. Many of the teachers attending the PLC’s did not have a
“need to know” this information and do not know or teach this students
Doc. no. 30-1 (Deposition of Brenda Daniel), at 144-47.
Doc. no. 47-1 (Declaration of Brenda Daniel), ¶ 16.
I expect teachers to be sensitive to the needs of individual
students and seek help from other professionals in the building if a
student seems to be in need of immediate assistance.
This letter will be placed in your Human Resource file.
Doc. no. 30-2 (December 1, 2014 Letter).
When plaintiff met with Principal Alexander to discuss this write-up, she was
not allowed to explain the situation.50
Other Individuals’ Assessments of Plaintiff’s Performance
Dr. Shirley Kilgore, an independent behavioral consultant employed by the
Education Company, had been hired by the Board to assess and assist teachers. She
observed the classrooms of several Westlawn teachers, including that of plaintiff, on
November 19, 2014. Afterwards, she discussed her findings with Westlawn’s
administrators. The minutes of that meeting reflect that Dr. Kilgore made the
following observations about plaintiff:
Huge disconnect with her [sic:
You can tell she does not like her students
She is hostile and sarcastic
She met me at the door stating there were 24 on task and 14 on
between plaintiff] and her
Doc. no. 30-1 (Deposition of Brenda Daniel), at 147.
Many [students] off task
She chooses who to target
No positive reinforcement
She doesn’t intervene / she reacts and attacks
Her demeanor is not positive
Anything we do for Daniel [plaintiff] is not going to help.
Doc. no. 30-14, at ECF 12-13 (Minutes of November 19, 2014 Meeting) (alterations
supplied). Plaintiff denies that Dr. Kilgore made any of those negative statements.
Plaintiff sated that she met with Dr. Kilgore after the classroom observation, and that
Dr. Kilgore told her that she really knew how to keep her class under control.51
Plaintiff received mixed performance reviews from the Westlawn
administrators. Principal Alexander never personally observed plaintiff’s classroom,
but she gave plaintiff an excellent score on a November 18, 2014 Student Trackers
review.52 On the other hand, Luke Bergeson, Crystal Alexander, and Amy Van Allen
stated in their affidavits that students often complained about plaintiff, and that
plaintiff exhibited poor classroom management.53 Crystal Alexander and Amy Van
Doc. no. 47-1 (Declaration of Brenda Daniel), ¶ 21.
Id., ¶ 20; doc. no. 47-4 (November 18, 2014 Student Tracker Check).
Doc. no. 30-12 (Affidavit of Luke Bergeson), ¶¶ 7-8; doc. no. 30-8 (Affidavit of Crystal
Alexander), ¶ 7; doc. no. 30-10 (Affidavit of Amy Van Allen), ¶¶ 5-6. Plaintiff disputes that Luke
Bergeson was an administrator, but the record reflects that Teachers on Special Assignment were
assigned administrative duties. Doc. no. 30-12 (Affidavit of Luke Bergeson), ¶ 3; doc. no. 30-3
Allen also noted that plaintiff’s classroom was chaotic and lacked structure, and that
plaintiff yelled at and dismissed students from the class, as opposed to the preferable
practice of building relationships with them.54 Despite having made such statements
in her affidavit, however, Amy Van Allen stated on a December 2, 2014 “Educate
Alabama” evaluation form that “several positive classroom management strategies
were noted in [plaintiff’s] classroom,” despite the fact that the students in her class
Plaintiff’s Change in Assignment at Westlawn
Principal Alexander decided to change plaintiff’s job assignment for her second
semester at Westlawn, due to concerns over plaintiff’s job performance and parent
and student complaints. She informed plaintiff on December 18, 2014, that she
would be reassigned during the second semester as a math intervention teacher, rather
than a classroom teacher. The change in assignment did not affect plaintiff’s salary
or job location.56
Later that day, one of the students in plaintiff’s class overheard Principal
Alexander and the black school counselor laughing and bragging about plaintiff’s
(Deposition of Presonia Lynette Alexander), at 34-35.
Doc. no. 30-8 (Affidavit of Crystal Alexander), ¶ 7; doc. no. 30-10 (Affidavit of Amy Van
Allen), ¶¶ 5-6.
Doc. no. 47-1 (Declaration of Brenda Daniel), ¶ 20 (alteration supplied). The court could
not locate a copy of the December 2, 2014 Educate Alabama evaluation in the record.
Doc. no. 30-14 (Affidavit of Presonia Lynette Alexander), ¶ 15.
reassignment. That student shared what she had overheard with other students in the
class, and the students and plaintiff all became upset. One student mentioned that
they had been learning about defending their rights by studying in history class the
civil rights marches that had occurred in Selma, Alabama.
encouragement from plaintiff, the students began making handwritten signs to protest
plaintiff’s reassignment.57 The signs included messages like “Students will fight!”;
“Fight for Ms. Daniels our math teacher!”; “Principals shouldn’t harass teachers!”;
“Protest 4 Mrs. Daniels”; and “Keep Mrs. Daniel. This will hurt you and the
school.”58 The students did not miss any instructional time to make the signs.
Moreover, the signs remained in plaintiff’s classroom.59
One of plaintiff’s students provided a written statement on December 19, 2014,
I came in and Mrs. daniels [sic] was crying & we asked her what’s
wrong and she asked us if we liked her as a math teacher and if we
wanted to keep her. Our response was “yes,” and she said we needed to
have parents call and we needed to do something because Mrs.
Alexander was harassing her and has been since she’s gotten there. And
today she said we needed to get a piece of paper and have everyone who
wanted me “her” [sic] to stay, and she wrote “Keep Mrs. Daniels” on the
paper and told me to tell my friends to sign it.
Doc. no. 30-2, at ECF 22 (December 19, 2014 Witness/Participant Statement).
Doc. no. 30-1 (Deposition of Brenda Daniel), at 161-62.
Doc. no. 30-2, at ECF 26-31 (Signs).
Doc. no. 47-1 (Declaration of Brenda Daniel), ¶ 24.
Another student provided a written statement on an unspecified date, stating:
Ok i had just walked in the classroom then i saw Ms. Daniels
crying and i was like whats wrong then everybody was like just leave
her alone then they was like they finna [sic: “fixing to”] fire her then
she said no they aren’t firing me they taking all my math classes and we
was like why then she was giving lots of things Alexander she said had
done then she pulled out a pack of stuff Alexander had put on her. [sic]
Doc. no. 30-2, at ECF 23 (Witness/Participant Statement).60
Plaintiff denies encouraging the students to protest, or asserting that Principal
Alexander had mistreated her, or asking them to call the school on her behalf.61
Principal Alexander issued plaintiff a letter on December 19, 2014, stating:
During our conference held on December 18, 2014, I shared
numerous concerns regarding low student engagement, parent
complaints, and classroom management. I also stated that an
instructional change would occur at the beginning of the second
semester. You would be reassigned additional Math intervention
classes. My concerns regarding your resistance to professional growth
and development was [sic] also expressed during this meeting.
On December 19, 2014, the collaborative teacher assigned to your
classroom informed me that you were promoting a student protest and
your students were signing a petition in order to allow you to keep your
job. The incident caused students to become involved in an
unproductive, meaningless activity that served as a distractor from the
necessary daily math instruction. These displays also left me feeling
fearful and threatened. In my opinion, the student messages were
personal and intimidating.
The displays of approximately twenty-six signs were placed
See also doc. no. 30-14 (Affidavit of Presonia Lynette Alexander), ¶ 16.
Doc. no. 47-1 (Declaration of Brenda Daniel), ¶ 24.
throughout the classroom with the following phrases:
Students Will Fight
Principals Should Not Harass Teachers
Keep Mrs. Daniel
Keep Ms. Daniel – This Will Hurt You and the School
Protest for Ms. Daniel
These displays left the collaborative teachers feeling unsettled and
concerned about student safety. It is my understanding that
conversations were intentionally held to influence student perceptions
and opinions regarding you being fired and the anticipation that you
would no longer serve as their teacher. Both of these assumptions are
Westlawn Middle School is a Turnaround School with high
expectations for improvement; therefore, it is extremely important to
commit all of our time and efforts toward academic excellence. During
instructional time, students should be encouraged to focus on learning,
not dealing with the degree to which the school is providing professional
growth and development for their teachers. Any concerns regarding the
administrative decision to make changes in scheduling should have been
addressed during a meeting among adults.
Multiple efforts to provide coaching, mentoring and assistance
have proving to be unproductive due to your resistance to change. In the
future, I expect you to be receptive to professional feedback, make
efforts to meet the individualized needs of students, maintain a studentfocused academic learning environment and follow the classroom
This letter will be placed in your Human Resource file.
Doc. no. 30-2, at ECF 25 (December 19, 2014 Letter).
Plaintiff’s Transfer to Hampton Cove Middle School
Plaintiff met with Shirley Wellington, her representative from the Alabama
Education Association (“AEA”) and Pat Miller, her representative from the
Huntsville Education Association (“HEA”), sometime during November of 2014.
She told them that she had been harassed and humiliated, that she couldn’t do
anything right at work, and that she didn’t know what to do about it.62 She
specifically told Pat Miller that she believed she was being targeted by Principal
Alexander because she was white.63 Plaintiffs’s purpose in lodging those complaints
with Wellington and Miller was to correct the write-ups she had received; she did not
ask to be transferred to a different school.64 Even so, when Wellington and Miller
met with Superintendent Casey Wardynski on plaintiff’s behalf, they asked whether
she could be transferred. They represented that plaintiff was unhappy at Westlawn
and had a personality conflict with Principal Alexander. Wellington believed that
plaintiff wanted the transfer, and thought “it would be beneficial for Brenda Daniel
to get a fresh start at a new school.”65
Superintendent Wardynski learned of an opening for a math teacher at
Hampton Cove Middle School and approved plaintiff’s transfer to that position.66
Doc. no. 30-1 (Deposition of Brenda Daniel), at 138-39.
Doc. no. 47-1 (Declaration of Brenda Daniel), ¶ 25.
Id., ¶ 26.
Doc. no. 30-5 (Affidavit of Shirley Wellington), ¶¶ 4-5.
Doc. no. 30-4 (Deposition of Casey Wardynski), at 62; doc. no. 30-7 (Affidavit of Christie
Finley), ¶ 7. Plaintiff states that Wardynski approved the transfer decision on January 8, 2015. See
doc. no. 46 (Plaintiff’s Response in Opposition to Defendants’ Motions for Summary Judgment),
at 28, ¶ 3 (“Miser had received approval from Wardynski on January 8, 2015, to transfer Plaintiff
Christie Finley, the Board’s Director of Secondary Programs, and Debi Miser, the
Board’s Talent Management Director, traveled to Westlawn to meet with plaintiff on
January 9, 2015, to discuss the transfer.67 Plaintiff stated that she did not want to
leave her students at Westlawn, but Finley told her it was time for her to be in a
school where she was supported by her administrator.68 Plaintiff told Finley and
Miser that she would sign the transfer agreement, but only if they could promise that
her students would be taken care of, that they would not have a substitute teacher, and
that she could call and check on the students whenever she wanted. Finley agreed,
and plaintiff signed the transfer document.69
Plaintiff did not want to transfer to Hampton Cove because, in addition to the
reasons mentioned in the preceding paragraph, the transfer caused her to have a
significantly longer commute, and to incur additional costs for day care and school
transportation for her two children.70 Even so, plaintiff testified that she had a
“wonderful experience” at Hampton Cove, and that she enjoyed working with the
to Hampton Cove Middle School.”). There is no evidence to support that factual assertion, however.
The document plaintiff cites as support is a January 8, 2015 email from Miser to Wardynski,
requesting the transfer, but there is no indication of Wardynski’s response. See doc. no. 27-15
(January 8, 2015 email).
Doc. no. 30-1 (Deposition of Brenda Daniel), at 189-90; doc. no. 30-7 (Affidavit of
Christie Finley), ¶ 7.
Doc. no. 30-1 (Deposition of Brenda Daniel), at 191.
Id. at 191-92.
Doc. no. 47-1 (Declaration of Brenda Daniel), ¶ 45.
school’s Principal, Debi Edwards, whom she described as an “awesome
administrator.”71 Ms. Edwards’s race is not specified in the record.
Plaintiff used the Kronos automated system to request a day of personal leave
on January 15, 2015. Even though plaintiff had transferred to Hampton Cove by that
date, the system still had her account linked to Westlawn, and it erroneously required
Principal Alexander’s approval for plaintiff’s leave request. Principal Alexander
denied plaintiff’s request for leave because she had been informed by Hampton
Cove’s Principal, Debi Edwards, that plaintiff no longer needed to be off work on that
date. Plaintiff acknowledged that the situation was appropriately addressed, and she
did not lose any pay or receive a charge for a substitute teacher for that date.72
Plaintiff’s Probationary Teacher Rubric Evaluation
The Board’s Talent Management Department annually reviews probationary
teachers to determine whether they should be retained.73 The Talent Management
Department began using a standardized rubric to conduct the evaluations during the
2014-2015 school year. Pursuant to the rubric, teachers earned points in six different
Doc. no. 30-1 (Deposition of Brenda Daniel), at 192.
Id. at 205-08; doc. no. 30-14 (Affidavit of Presonia Lynette Alexander), ¶ 18; id. at Exhibit
2 (January 15, 2015 emails).
Doc. no. 30-6 (Affidavit of Lee Simmons), ¶ 6. An Alabama teacher achieves tenure “upon
the completion of three complete, consecutive school years of full-time employment as a teacher
with the same employer.” Ala. Code § 16-24C-4(1). The employment of a probationary teacher can
be terminated at any time, but a tenured employee has the right to a hearing before being terminated.
Ala. Code §§ 16-24C-5(c), 16-24C-6(b).
areas of performance, with a total of 100 possible points. The same factors were
intended to apply to all probationary teachers who taught core subjects, but teachers
of non-core subjects did not receive scores in all areas. A teacher who received a
score of 65 or above on the rubric would not automatically be recommended for
termination. If it was not possible for a teacher to be evaluated in all areas of the
rubric, the teacher was scored by dividing the number of points received by the
number of points available. If any teacher received a score of less than 65%, she was
recommended for termination.74
Review committees were formed to collect data, calculate scores, and make
recommendations based upon the rubric. The members of the review committees
were not supposed to know the names of the teachers they were reviewing. Instead,
the names of the teachers were supposed to be redacted from all relevant
documentation. Each teacher was assigned an anonymous number, and only the
employees of the Talent Management department knew the teacher names
corresponding to the numbers. Accordingly, if the rubric review process were applied
successfully, the members of the review committee would not possess any personal
or identifying information about the teachers they were reviewing, including race,
Doc. no. 30-6 (Affidavit of Lee Simmons), ¶¶ 8-10. Even if a teacher scored 65 or above
on the rubric evaluation, there might exist different reasons for recommending that the teacher be
terminated, including failure to obtain certification, a surplus of teachers, an additional review by
the Director of Instruction, or a temporary contract. Id. ¶ 10.
gender, age, religion, or prior complaints.75 Each year, the Talent Management
Department forwarded a list of teachers who did not score at least 65% on the rubric
to the Board’s Human Resources Department, and the Superintendent typically
recommended that the Board terminate the employment of all teachers on the list.76
The committee that conducted plaintiff’s probationary review on either March
4 or 5, 2015,77 was comprised of five administrators from schools other than
Westlawn and Hampton Cove, including: Veronica Haley, a black female; Anne
Jobe, a white female; Aaron King, a white male; Michael Morris, a black male; and
Carolyn Williams, a black female.78 The first line of the rubric evaluation form
contained the heading “DOCUMENTATION IN HR FILE,” and asked the reviewers
to “[p]lease check one of the following areas before beginning the Probationary
A box was checked next to the sentence, “There is
documentation, but additional information is needed to make a decision about
renewal.”80 The documents attached to plaintiff’s rubric were the disciplinary letters
Id., ¶¶ 11-14.
Id., ¶¶ 16-17.
The rubric document states that it was completed on March 4, 2015. Doc. no. 30-3, at ECF
91 (2014-2015 Probationary Teacher Review Rubric). Even so, Aaron King and Anne Jobe both
stated in their affidavits that they completed the rubric on March 5, 2015. See doc. no. 30-9
(Affidavit of Aaron King), ¶ 6; doc. no. 30-11 (Affidavit of Anne Jobe), ¶ 8.
Doc. no. 30-6 (Affidavit of Lee Simmons), ¶ 28.
Doc. no. 30-3, at ECF 91 (2014-2015 Probationary Teacher Review Rubric) (alteration
supplied, capitalization in original).
written by Principal Alexander while plaintiff was teaching at Westlawn. Plaintiff’s
name, Principal Alexander’s name, and the name of the school were redacted from
most of the letters, but one letter, though partially redacted, still contained plaintiff’s
name.81 Two of the review committee members (both of whom are white) testified
that they did not see plaintiff’s name on any of the documents while conducting the
rubric review.82 There is no evidence indicating whether the three remaining
members of the committee (all of whom were black) saw plaintiff’s name. Plaintiff
had written responses to most of Principal Alexander’s letters, but her responses were
not included with the rubric evaluation packet.83 Lee Simons, the Director of Talent
Management, testified that “[i]t was the practice of Talent Management only to
include the written reprimands and not to include any rebuttals in the materials
provided to the probationary review committee.”84
The first area of review under the rubric was teacher attendance, for which as
many as nine points could be awarded: i.e., a teacher received nine points for zero
to three absences during the school year; six points for four to six absences; three
Id. at ECF 100-08. The letter containing plaintiff’s unredacted name is reproduced on ECF
Doc. no. 30-9 (Affidavit of Aaron King, a white male), ¶ 8; doc. no. 30-11 (Affidavit of
Anne Jobe, a white female), ¶ 9.
Doc. no. 47-1 (Declaration of Brenda Daniel), ¶ 42.
Doc. no. 30-6 (Affidavit of Lee Simmons), ¶ 25 (alteration supplied).
points for seven to ten absences; and zero points for more than ten absences. Family
and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and professional leave days did not count as
absences.85 Plaintiff received six points for attendance, because she had been absent
five days during the school year.86
Student discipline data
The second area, student discipline data, was worth a total of nine points, and
was based upon the number of disciplinary referrals arising from the teacher’s
classroom. Each teacher received nine points for zero referrals, six points for one to
five referrals, three points for seven to ten referrals, and zero points for more than ten
referrals.87 Plaintiff received all of the nine possible points because she had no
Student growth data
The third area was student growth data, for which fifteen points were possible.
The student growth data scores were based upon the percentage by which students’
standardized test scores increased between the beginning and middle points of the
school year. A teacher earned fifteen points for an increase above 50%, ten points for
an increase of 35-50%, five points for an increase of 20-34%, and zero points for an
Id. ¶ 18.
Id. ¶ 31; doc. no. 30-1 (Deposition of Brenda Daniel), at 225-26.
Doc. no. 30-6 (Affidavit of Lee Simmons), ¶ 19.
Id. ¶ 32.
increase below 20%.89 Plaintiff received ten points for student growth data because
her students’ standardized test scores increased by 41% between the beginning and
middle points of the school year.90 Even so, plaintiff disputes that her student growth
data score was properly calculated, because she did not begin teaching at Westlawn
until three weeks after the school year had started.91
Principal input and recommendation
The fourth area of the rubric was labeled “principal input and
recommendation,” for which twenty points were possible. Each teacher was reviewed
by her current principal, who answered “yes or no” questions regarding the teacher’s
performance in six categories, then provided an overall recommendation regarding
whether the teacher should be rehired. A teacher who received a “yes” in all
categories and a recommendation for rehire earned twenty points. A teacher who
received a rehire recommendation, but not a “yes” in all categories, earned twelve
points. A teacher who did not receive a rehire recommendation earned six points,
regardless of how many “yes’s” she or he also received. Finally, a teacher who did
not receive a rehire recommendation, and who also had documentation in her or his
personnel file supporting the principal’s decision not to give a rehire
Id., ¶ 20.
Id., ¶ 33.
Doc. no. 47-1 (Declaration of Brenda Daniel), ¶ 40.
recommendation, earned zero points.92 Debi Edwards provided plaintiff’s principal
input because she was plaintiff’s principal at Hampton Cove Middle School on the
date of the evaluation. Principal Edwards did not consult Principal Alexander before
she completed the principal input form, nor did she review any of the letters Principal
Alexander had placed in plaintiff’s personnel file. Based upon Edwards’ evaluation,
plaintiff received all twenty possible points.93
Even though plaintiff’s rubric evaluation form indicated that there was
documentation in her personnel file, the two white members of the review committee
testified that they did not review any of the letters in plaintiff’s file.94 The record does
not contain any testimony from the other three members of the review committee, all
of whom are black. Thus, it cannot be determined whether the other members
reviewed the letters in plaintiff’s file, but it is apparent that the committee did not
deduct any points from plaintiff’s principal input score because of those letters.
Strategic Teaching Walkthrough
The fifth area of the rubric, worth a total of twenty points, was the “Strategic
Teaching Walkthrough” of the teacher’s classroom conducted during the second
Doc. no. 30-6 (Affidavit of Lee Simmons), ¶ 21.
Id. at ¶ 34; doc. no. 30-15 (Affidavit of Debi Edwards), ¶ 6.
Doc. no. 30-9 (Affidavit of Aaron King), ¶ 8; doc. no. 30-11 (Affidavit of Anne Jobe), ¶
semester by an administrator and a teacher from different schools.95
walkthrough, each teacher is given a score of 1-3 in various areas of strategic
teaching, and all of the area scores are averaged to reach a composite score between
1 and 3. A teacher earned all twenty possible points on the rubric if her composite
score was between 2.4 and 3, fourteen points if her composite score was between 1.9
and 2.39, and seven points if her composite score was between 1.0 and 1.89.96 The
walkthroughs for all teachers at Hampton Cove Middle School, including plaintiff,
were conducted by teacher Ashley Rice and Anne Jobe, the Principal of Lee High
School and a member of plaintiff’s review committee team.97 The exact date of the
walkthrough is disputed. In one paragraph of her affidavit, Jobe stated that the
walkthrough was conducted on February 5, 2015, but in another paragraph, she stated
that it was conducted on February 2.98 The walkthrough document itself does not
contain a date.99
Plaintiff received a composite score of 1.42 on her walkthrough evaluation,
resulting in a total of only seven of the twenty points possible on this component of
Doc. no. 30-6 (Affidavit of Lee Simmons), ¶ 22.
Id., ¶ 26.
Id., ¶ 35.
Compare doc. no. 30-11 (Affidavit of Anne Jobe), ¶ 7, with id., ¶ 8.
See doc. no. 30-3, at ECF 97-98 (Strategic Teaching Walkthrough).
the rubric.100 Plaintiff disputes most aspects of the walkthrough score. For example,
plaintiff received 1 out of 3 possible points for “Classroom is arranged to
accommodate whole group instruction, teacher-led small group instruction and
partner student work,”101 but she asserts that she always had students seated in groups,
and she used small groups and the “turn and talk” strategy in all of her lesson plans.102
She received 2 out of 3 possible points for “Materials: Evidence exists of various
materials being used to facilitate student engagement/learning.”103 It was noted that
plaintiff used the computer and other print materials, but she did not use textbooks,
objects, or other visual aides.104 In response, plaintiff asserts that she could not have
used textbooks in the classroom because Superintendent Wardynski had eliminated
the use of textbooks in classrooms in all Huntsville City Schools.105 Plaintiff received
1 of 3 possible points for “Teacher Instruction: Learning strategic instruction (before,
during, and after strategies are used to introduce, define, or explain a concept; relate
a concept to other concepts; assist students in recalling concepts; quality questioning,
etc.”).106 She responded that she did use the “before, during, and after” strategy, and
Doc. no. 30-6 (Affidavit of Lee Simmons), ¶ 35.
Doc. no. 30-3, at ECF 97 (Strategic Teaching Walkthrough).
Doc. no. 47-1 (Declaration of Brenda Daniel), ¶ 32.
Doc. no. 30-3, at ECF 97 (Strategic Teaching Walkthrough).
Doc. no. 47-1 (Declaration of Brenda Daniel), ¶ 32.
Doc. no. 30-3, at ECF 97 (Strategic Teaching Walkthrough).
even displayed it on her focus wall.107 Plaintiff received 1 of 3 possible points for
“Evidence of differentiated strategic teaching (recognition of student needs,
intentional grouping).”108 She responded by asserting that “it would have been illegal
for me to identify special education students in class or to single them out.”109
Plaintiff received 1 of 3 possible points for “Posted or assigned student work that
exhibits thinking about texts.”110 She responded to that score by summarily stating
that she had always met all the requirements for that category.111 Plaintiff received
1 of 3 possible points for “Students Actions: Evidence of small-group or partner
reading/writing/learning.”112 Again, plaintiff responded by summarily stating that she
“always incorporated those requirements in my classroom at Hampton Cove.”113
The sixth, and final, area of the rubric considered student surveys, which were
conducted during the first semester and worth a total of twenty-seven points on the
rubric. Students “currently in class” rated the teacher either favorably or unfavorably
in fifteen performance areas, and for each area, a total percentage of favorable
Doc. no. 47-1 (Declaration of Brenda Daniel), ¶ 32.
Doc. no. 30-3, at ECF 97 (Strategic Teaching Walkthrough).
Doc. no. 47-1 (Declaration of Brenda Daniel), ¶ 33.
Doc. no. 30-3, at ECF 97 (Strategic Teaching Walkthrough).
Doc. no. 47-1 (Declaration of Brenda Daniel), ¶ 34.
Doc. no. 30-3, at ECF 97 (Strategic Teaching Walkthrough).
Doc. no. 47-1 (Declaration of Brenda Daniel), ¶ 35.
responses was calculated. The teacher received all twenty-seven points if 80-100%
of the students’ responses were favorable, eighteen points for 60-79% favorable
responses, nine points for 40-59% favorable responses, and zero points for lower than
40% favorable responses.114 Plaintiff’s Westlawn students were surveyed during
December of 2014 and gave favorable responses to only 59% of the questions.
Accordingly, plaintiff received nine points on the student survey category.115
Principal Alexander testified that school administrators were in charge of
administering the student surveys while the teacher was out of the room, but she
could not recall which one of the Westlawn administrators administered plaintiff’s
survey.116 On the other hand, plaintiff stated that, in her experience, “it was up to the
teacher to advise the students to go online and complete the survey, not a member of
administration or the leadership team.”117 The student survey form stated the total
number of students surveyed, but it did not state either the total number of students
in plaintiff’s Westlawn classes or the percentage of students who completed the
survey.118 Those omissions contradicted the rubric form, which stated that “[s]urveys
Doc. no. 30-6 (Affidavit of Lee Simmons), ¶ 24; doc. no. 30-3, at ECF 92 (2014-2015
Probationary Teacher Review Rubric).
Id., ¶ 36; doc. no. 30-3, at ECF 99 (December 2014 Student Survey).
Doc. no. 30-3 (Deposition of Presonia Lynette Alexander), at 176.
Doc. no. 47-1 (Declaration of Brenda Daniel), ¶ 38.
Doc. no. 30-3, at ECF 99 (December 2014 Student Survey).
should indicate that the majority of students in all classes were surveyed.”119
Plaintiff’s student surveys from the spring semester at Hampton Cove reflected a
higher score that would have earned her eighteen points for that category on the
Plaintiff’s total rubric score
Plaintiff’s total score on the rubric was 61 out of 100, which was lower than the
65-point threshold, so the review committee did not recommend that she be retained
for the 2015-2016 school year.121 Plaintiff’s rubric had been evaluated under an
anonymous teacher number up to that point, but after the review committee made its
recommendation, the Talent Management Department matched plaintiff’s anonymous
teacher number with her name and placed her name on the list of probationary
teachers who would be recommended for termination.122 The Talent Management
Department forwarded that list to Human Resources “[n]ear the end of the 2014-15
school year,” and Human Resources “included these employees in the list of
employees to be recommended for termination by the Superintendent at the Board’s
May 20, 2015 meeting.”123
Id. at ECF 92 (2014-2015 Probationary Teacher Review Rubric) (alteration supplied).
Doc. no. 47-1 (Declaration of Brenda Daniel), ¶ 39; doc. no. 47-12.
Doc. no. 30-6 (Affidavit of Lee Simmons), ¶ 37.
Id., ¶¶ 38-39.
Doc. no. 30-16 (Affidavit of Micah Fisher), ¶¶ 3-4 (alteration supplied).
Plaintiff’s First EEOC Charge
Plaintiff filed her initial charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) on March 26, 2015, alleging race and gender
discrimination and retaliation. She stated:
I am a White female. I was hired by the above-named employer
on August 25, 2014 as a Math Teacher. During my tenure I was
subjected to harassment, a hostile work environment, intimidation,
disparate terms and conditions of employment and discipline
commencing September 26, 2014. I received unlawful disciplinary
actions September 26, 2014, October 22, 2014, October 29, 2014, a
second discipline October 29, 2014, December 1, 2014 and December
19, 2014. I was accused of not knowing my curriculum, accused of
classroom deficiencies although no observation had been conducted, and
accused of unprofessional tone and behavior. The hostility was such
that whenever I question a disciplinary action or attempted to address
my concerns I was faced with intimidation by Principal Lynette
Alexander and told not to speak. The continued harassing treatment and
the hostile work environment it created affected [my] ability to perform
I complained to the Alabama Education Associated [sic] (AEA)
on September 26, 2014, and each time thereafter when I received an
unlawful discipline. The AEA representative Shirley Wellington
addressed the School Superintendent and the Secondary Curriculum
Coordinator on numerous occasions on my behalf to no avail. On
December 16, 2014, I submitted a written rebuttal addressing all
disciplines to Superintendent Casey Wardynski. Following the various
complaints I was retaliated against resulting in further disciplines,
removal from my assigned classroom effective January 5, 2015, and an
involuntary transfer on January 12, 2015. After the involuntary transfer,
which I was required to sign, I was again subject to retaliatory treatment
when my prior Principle [sic] denied my time-off and continued to
charge me with time associated with placing a substitute teacher for my
prior vacant classroom. As a result of the involuntary transfer my pay
has been reduced, I am forced to drive one hour to work versus twentyfive minutes, and I am forced to pay for transportation to school for my
I believe I was discriminated against on the basis of my race, sex
and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,
as amended. Similarly situated male employees and African-American
employees, both male and female, are treated more favorable. [sic].
Doc. no. 30-2, at ECF 38-39 (March 26, 2015 EEOC Charge) (alteration supplied).
Plaintiff’s Complaints of Harassment
The Board’s Policy Manual is published on the Board’s website, and a hard
copy of the manual is retained at each school in a manner that is accessible to any
employee.124 All new employees are required to review the Policy Manual during
orientation, and all updates to the Policy Manual are electronically communicated to
The Policy Manual contains an anti-harassment policy prohibiting harassment
on the basis of several protected characteristics, including race and participation in
legally protected activity. “Every employee is expected to uphold this policy and is
responsible for maintaining a respectful and professional educational and work
environment. When proper notice is provided, the Board will immediately investigate
allegations of unlawful harassment and will take appropriate disciplinary action
Doc. no. 30-5 (Affidavit of Shirley Wellington), ¶ 6.
where warranted.”126 The policy defines unlawful harassment as
verbal, physical, visual, written, electronic or other conduct directed
against any person or group, based upon characteristics or activities
protected by federal or state law that has the purpose or effect of
unreasonably interfering with an individual’s working environment or
work performance or creating an offensive, demeaning, or intimidating
environment for that person or group of persons. To be unlawful, the
conduct must be severe or pervasive, but the Board prohibits any such
Doc. no. 30-2, at ECF 67, ¶ 5.14.1.
The Board requires all employees who have been subjected to harassment to
report it immediately,127 and in the following manner:
Under no circumstances should an employee pursue resolution of
a potential harassment situation through informal reporting only.
Although employees are encouraged to work together to resolve
differences, and while reports to first-line supervisors may be helpful,
the Board cannot properly oversee and investigate a situation without
proper notice in the manner set out below. Informal complaints to coworkers and reports to first-line supervisors will not comply with this
policy and cannot provide notice to the Board of the problem.
Employees MUST follow the complaint procedure set out below.
Id. at ECF 68, ¶ 5.14.3(b) (capitalization in original). The required complaint
procedure is as follows:
Persons Responsible For Receiving and Investigating Complaints
– The Superintendent is responsible for adjudicating complaints
regarding unlawful harassment. The Superintendent designates
the Compliance Office for receiving reports of alleged unlawful
Doc. no. 30-2, at ECF 67, ¶ 5.14.
Id. at ECF 68, ¶ 5.14.3(a).
harassment. All complaints should be voiced directly to the
Compliance Office. The Compliance Office can be reached at
(256) 428-6836. However, under no circumstances will an
employee be required to present the complaint to the person who
is the subject of the complaint, nor will the complaint be
adjudicated by the person who is the subject of the complaint.
Accordingly, if the complaint concerns the Compliance Office,
the complaint may be made directly to the Superintendent, or if
the Superintendent is the subject of the complaint, directly to the
Complaint form, contents — Complaints should be made in
writing, signed by the complainant, and should fully describe the
circumstances surrounding the alleged harassment. Harassment
complaints that cannot be made in writing should be
memorialized by the Compliance Office or other appropriate
recipient of the complaint.
Investigation — The Compliance Office and Superintendent will
promptly investigate the complaint, review the results of any
investigation with legal counsel or other appropriate officials,
make any findings that are supported by the investigation, and
recommend appropriate action based on these findings. The
complainant will be informed of any action that is taken as a
result of the investigation.
Review by the Superintendent and the Board — A complaining
party who is not satisfied with the investigation or resolution of
the complaint may request that the Superintendent take additional
or different action or present the complaint to the Board for its
review and action. In such case, the Board will render a final
decision as soon as practicable.
Doc. no. 30-2, at ECF 68-69, ¶¶ 5.15.4(a)-(d) (italics in original). The Board’s policy
states that all harassment complaints and investigations must be kept confidential, and
retaliation for filing a complaint is prohibited.128
Despite the specific written requirements of the Board’s policy, however,
Superintendent Wardynski testified that a teacher’s complaint about a principal
“could go to any number of individuals,” including the AEA representative, a Board
member, the school’s Director of Instruction, or the Board’s Director of Compliance.
Superintendent Wardynski testified that he met with AEA representatives on a
monthly basis to discuss employees’ complaints.129
Plaintiff, however, never reported any alleged harassment to the Compliance
Director when she was at Westlawn. Instead, she reported Principal Alexander’s
actions to Pat Miller, the HEA representative, and Shirley Wellington, the AEA
representative, beginning on September 26, 2014.130 At Wellington’s suggestion,
plaintiff wrote rebuttals to each of the written reprimands Principal Alexander issued
her.131 Wellington also advised plaintiff to send her rebuttals to Superintendent
Wardynski, and she did so, but on a date that is not specified in the record.132
Wardynski testified that he was required to approve all documents related to teacher
performance or discipline before those documents were placed in the teacher’s
Id. at ECF 69, ¶¶ 5.14.5, 5.14.6.
Doc. no. 30-4 (Deposition of Casey Wardynski), at 45-48.
Doc. no. 30-1 (Deposition of Brenda Daniel), at 261-64.
Doc. no. 47-1 (Declaration of Brenda Daniel), ¶ 43.
personnel file at the central office.133
By May 13, 2015, however, Shirley Wellington had ceased to be the AEA
representative for the Board’s teachers, and had become the Board’s Director of
Compliance.134 Even so, plaintiff decided to send Wellington an email about
Principal Alexander’s treatment of her on that date, because she was prompted to do
so by another former Westlawn teacher.135 The email stated:
I have several things that keep happening to me even after I was
transferred to Hampton Cove.
The week I started at Hampton Cove, Lynnette [sic]
Alexander charged me for a sub every day in Aesop (was
this done so it would look like I had an excessive number
of absences to insure I wouldn’t be eligible for re-hire)[.]
I entered in Kronos a personal day (which was approved by
Dr. Edwards) for a date in February and Lynnette [sic]
Alexander denied my request[.]
My access to SchoolNet/Digits was so screwed up it took
almost a week for SchoolNet/Pearson to figure out how to
fix it so I could access the curriculum so I could begin
teaching at Hampton Cove. . . it was so messed up the local
tech people couldn’t figure it out[.]
My access to iNow was once again so messed up it took
several people in the tech office to figure out how to fix it
Doc. no. 30-4 (Deposition of Casey Wardynski), at 70-75.
Doc. no. 30-5 (Affidavit of Shirley Wellington), ¶¶ 1, 8.
Doc. no. 30-1 (Deposition of Brenda Daniel), at 265-66.
so I could even log in[.]
My password into STAR was changed so I couldn’t access
my data for the spring testing which made me late reporting
my data (making me look bad but fortunately Dr. Edwards
My Educate Alabama information was unassigned to any
district in Alabama (I talked with the State Dept. of
Education and the only people with access to unassign an
account are principals and the superintendent. I don’t think
Dr. Wardynski did it and I asked Dr. Edwards and she said
she did not do it)[.] I had a couple pieces of evidence that
I had to re-enter. I was able to re-enter the information and
close out my Educate Alabama on time without any
problems. But what if I hadn’t looked to finish one last
piece of evidence? I wouldn’t have been able to complete
my paperwork that is required by the deadline. I do know
that Lynette Alexander was in the Educate Alabama
entering teacher’s [sic] evals on the weekend before I
checked my profile on Monday.
I fully understand that items 3-6 are circumstantial but very coincidental. I am very worried about my re-hire status can you give me
any reassurance I will be ok?
Doc. no. 30-2, at ECF 65 (May 13, 2015 Email) (alterations supplied).
Wellington responded by informing plaintiff that she no longer was the AEA
representative, but noted that she had forwarded plaintiff’s email to the current AEA
representative, as well as to Pat Miller, the HEA representative.136 Wellington did not
communicate plaintiff’s concerns to anyone else, including Superintendent
Doc. no. 30-2, at ECF 64 (May 13, 2015 Emails).
Wardynski. She explained her failure to do so as follows:
It did not appear from the e-mail that there was anything for me to do.
The issues she raised had been resolved and she was no longer serving
as a teacher at Westlawn. I could not give her any information about
whether she would be terminated as I was not part of the probationary
Doc. no. 30-5 (Affidavit of Shirley Wellington), ¶ 8.
Superintendent Wardynski routinely relied upon the recommendations made
through the probationary rubric review process, without conducting independent
investigations, when deciding which probationary teachers to recommend for
termination.137 In accordance with that routine practice, when plaintiff’s name was
placed on the Human Resources report of probationary teachers to be terminated in
May 2015, Superintendent Wardynski recommended to the Board that plaintiff be
terminated, without independently reviewing her file.138 The Board voted to approve
all terminations recommended by Dr. Wardynski, including plaintiff’s, during its May
20, 2015 meeting.139
Christie Finley’s May 20, 2015 Email
Christie Finley, the Director of Secondary Programs and the direct supervisor
Doc. no. 30-13 (Affidavit of Casey Wardynski), ¶ 12.
Id., ¶ 13.
Doc. no. 30-16 (Affidavit of Micah Fisher), ¶ 6.
of all principals, including Principal Alexander, sent an email to Barbara Cooper, the
Assistant Superintendent, on May 20, 2015, with the subject line “Info requested,”
and reading, in its entirety:
Requesting people she knows for TOSA –
Summer School Administrator – Continued to tell
secondary she wanted a certain teacher to be the
administrator. This person did not have admin certification
and yet she continued to ask for her.
Hostile Work Environment
Amy Van Allen
Brenda Daniel – district personnel had to meet with
teacher and move her to another school
Elizabeth Bates – personnel issue – has continued to
contact Mrs. Finley and has made contact with Shirley
Wellington last semester and this past month.
Yearbooks – copyright issue and question of when the yearbooks
STAR Issue in January – LA departmentalized 6th grade after the
first STAR test. Did not inform anyone so when Dr. McNeal tried
to calculate scores, she was unable to do so, because the students
were not linked to the original teachers. The issue — kept the
school from being to calculate if they earned the incentive for the
Doc. no. 47-2 (May 20, 2015 Email) (emphasis supplied). There is no further
discussion of this email anywhere in the record.
Plaintiff’s Alleged Comparator
Plaintiff identified her primary comparator as Jacqueline Willis, a black
probationary math teacher at Westlawn.140 When Education Company consultant Dr.
Shirley Kilgore observed Willis on November 19, 2014, she observed that Willis “lets
kids step in hallway,” was “[v]ery loud in classroom,” and had “[n]o classroom
control.”141 She also noted that Willis was “[o]blivious to all,” “trying to do whole
group the same way she is doing small group,” and “occupying the students rather
than engaging them.”142 Even so, Principal Alexander did not issue any written
discipline to Willis until March 19, 2015, when she stated:
Several conferences have been held to discuss your lack of
classroom management and low student engagement. Prior to this letter,
expectations for student engagement have been communicated, and
instructional support has been provided throughout the year. Additional
personnel have been scheduled into your classroom in order to assist you
in maintaining order so that instruction is possible.
Nevertheless, the following deficiencies are still evident:
Teacher is not addressing student behaviors.
Student behaviors hinder the classroom instruction and
instructional pacing is lacking.
Classroom routines and procedures are not evident and
teacher is not implementing the 5-Step Behavior Plan.
The consultant from Education Company comments also
supported our findings by stating that teacher ignores student behaviors
and the teacher teaches over off-task behaviors. The consultant also
See doc. no. 47-1 (Declaration of Brenda Daniel), ¶ 30.
Doc. no. 30-3, at ECF 114 (Education Company Meeting Notes) (alterations supplied).
Id. at ECF 117 (alteration supplied).
noted that the teacher is not using the Behavior Log and the classroom
lacked routines and procedures.
Your unwillingness to address student behaviors and the existence
of low expectations are hindering the effectiveness of your lessons. Offtask and disruptive behaviors must be addressed immediately and the 5Step Discipline Plan must be consistently implemented. Classroom
management plan must include a daily commitment to routines and
procedures. This letter will be placed in your Human Resources file.
Doc. no. 47-5, at ECF 32 (March 19, 2015 Letter).
Willis’s employment with the Board was not terminated at the end of the 20142015 school year.143 Lee Simmons testified that Willis was not recommended for
termination because she scored more than 65 on the rubric evaluation.144 Plaintiff
asserts that Willis never was subjected to the rubric evaluation, but the only evidence
she cites to support that assertion is a three-page list of employees on which Willis’s
name does not appear.145 Plaintiff’s evidentiary submission did not explain where
that list originated, or even exactly what it purports to list, but defendants explained
in their reply submission that plaintiff’s exhibit actually is a list of probationary
employees who were terminated at the end of the 2014-2015 school year.146 Willis’s
name is not on that list because her employment was not terminated.
See doc. no. 30-16, at ECF 13 (including Ms. Willis’s name on the list of teachers to be
Doc. no. 30-6 (Affidavit of Lee Simmons), ¶ 41.
Doc. no. 47-7.
See doc. no. 50-1 (attachment to Defendants’ Reply Brief).
Plaintiff’s Second EEOC Charge and Complaint
Plaintiff filed a second EEOC charge on May 26, 2015, alleging that the
termination of her employment was in retaliation for filing her first EEOC charge.
Specifically, plaintiff stated:
I was hired by the above name[d] employer on or about August
25, 2014, as a Math Teacher. On or about March 26, 2015, I filed a
charge of discrimination with the EEOC (EEOC Charge Number 4202015-01385). On or about May 20, 2015, I was discharged; however,
Jacqueline Willis (Black) and Kerri-Ann Warren (Black) were not
I believe that I have [been] retaliated against for my protected
activity, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as
Doc. no. 30-2, at ECF 61 (May 26, 2015 EEOC Charge) (alterations supplied).
The EEOC issued a Dismissal and Notice of Rights with regard to both charges
on October 2, 2015.147 Plaintiff filed this suit on November 30, 2016, more than
ninety days later.148 Accordingly, she asserted her federal claims under only 42
U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 1983, not Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended.
See 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(1) (stating that a civil lawsuit must be filed within ninety
days of receipt of a right-to-sue letter from the EEOC).
Doc. no. 30-2, at ECF 62-63.
See doc. no. 1 (Complaint).
Plaintiff claims that her transfer to Hampton Cove, as well as her termination,
were the result of unlawful race discrimination. She does not claim to have direct
evidence of a race-based discriminatory animus that motivated either action.
Therefore, she must prove her claims with circumstantial evidence, navigating the
burden-shifting framework set forth in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S.
792 (1973), and Texas Department of Community Affairs v. Burdine, 450 U.S. 248
(1981). Under this analysis, a plaintiff must first establish a prima facie case of
disparate treatment, which gives rise to a presumption of discrimination. To rebut the
resulting presumption, the employer then must articulate a legitimate,
nondiscriminatory reason for the disputed employment action. If the employer does
so, the presumption of discrimination drops from the case, and the burden shifts back
to the plaintiff to show that the defendant’s proffered reason is merely a pretext for
unlawful discrimination. See McDonnell Douglas, 411 U.S. at 802-05; Burdine, 450
U.S. at 252-56.
To establish a prima facie case for disparate treatment in an
employment discrimination case, the plaintiff must show that: “(1) she
is a member of a protected class; (2) she was subjected to an adverse
employment action; (3) her employer treated similarly situated
employees outside of her protected class more favorably than she was
treated; and (4) she was qualified to do the job.” Burke-Fowler v.
Orange Cty., 447 F.3d 1319, 1323 (11th Cir. 2006).
Trask v. Secretary, Department of Veterans Affairs, 822 F.3d 1179, 1192 (11th Cir.
2016). There is no dispute that plaintiff belonged to a protected class, that she was
qualified to perform the duties of her teaching position, or that the termination of her
employment was an adverse employment action. Accordingly, the only prima facie
elements remaining for the court’s consideration are whether plaintiff’s transfer was
an adverse employment action, and whether similarly situated black employees were
treated better than plaintiff.
The parties dispute whether plaintiff’s transfer to Hampton Cove was voluntary
or involuntary, but even accepting plaintiff’s argument that the transfer was forced
upon her, it was not an adverse employment action. “In a Title VII case, a transfer
to a different position can be ‘adverse’ if it involves a reduction in pay, prestige or
responsibility.” Hinson v. Clinch County, Georgia Board of Education, 231 F.3d
821, 829 (11th Cir. 2000) (citing Doe v. Dekalb County School District, 145 F.3d
1441, 1448 (11th Cir.1998)). The court must employ “an objective test, asking
whether ‘a reasonable person in [the plaintiff’s] position would view the employment
action in question as adverse.’” Hinson, 231 F.3d at 829 (citing Doe, 145 F.3d at
1449) (alteration in original).
Here, the amount paid to plaintiff by the Board was not reduced as a result of
her transfer, and her responsibilities as a middle school math teacher were the same
at both schools. She asserts that the transfer was an adverse employment action
because Hampton Cove was further from her home, and the assignment caused her
to place her own children in day care and pay for their transportation to and from
school. The court does not accept those arguments, however, because other district
courts have held, in well-reasoned and persuasive opinions, that such consequences
are best characterized as inconveniences, as opposed to material changes in a
plaintiff’s employment status. One such court is the Middle District of Alabama,
which held in Evans v. Alabama Department of Corrections, 418 F. Supp. 2d 1271
(M.D. Ala. 2005) (Thompson, J.), that:
Evans’s transfer from Alexander City has required that he
commute 100 miles, round trip, from his home to another facility in
Deatsville, Alabama. Previously, Evans lived and worked in Alexander
City; however, Evans has maintained the same salary, rank, and benefits
as before. “Transfers that have required moving from one city to
another have been held [to] not be actionable where the transfer did not
involve a change in salary, benefits, or any other aspect of employment.
Where the changed work location does not even require one to change
residences, these transfers generally merely create an inconvenience,
which for purposes of Title VII is not actionable.” Baker v. Alabama
Dep’t of Public Safety, 296 F. Supp. 2d 1299, 1308 (M.D. Ala. 2003);
see also Sanchez v. Denver Pub. Sch., 164 F.3d 527, 532 (10th Cir.
1998) (no adverse employment action and only a “mere inconvenience”
where transfer of plaintiff’s employment increased commute time from
between five and seven minutes to between 30 and 40 minutes); Spring
v. Sheboygan Area Sch. Dist., 865 F.2d 883, 886 (7th Cir. 1989) (no
materially adverse change in terms or conditions of plaintiff’s
employment where transfer of position meant that the more-than-65-57-
year-old plaintiff would have to travel farther from home to get to
work); Burnette v. Northside Hosp., 342 F. Supp. 2d 1128, 1136 (N.D.
Ga. 2004) (“[A]n overwhelming number of federal courts have held that
a reassignment or transfer which results in an increased commute,
without more, is not objectively serious and tangible enough to meet the
threshold of substantiality.”).
Evans, 418 F. Supp. 2d at 1276 (first alteration supplied, second alteration in
Plaintiff also asserts that she lost job security as a result of the transfer. She
relies upon the October 16, 2014 agreement stating that she would be paid a specified
hourly rate for up to five hours of additional work each week during “Extended
Contrary to plaintiff’s assertion, however, no reasonable
interpretation of that agreement could lead to the conclusion that she “had an
expectation of being able to stay at Westlawn for three (3) years from August 26,
2014 to May 27, 2017 working under the SIG grant funding.”150 There is no
indication that the agreement was intended to alter the general rule that an Alabama
teacher remains on probationary status for her first three years at a given school.
Indeed, the agreement did not guarantee plaintiff a minimum number of Extended
Learning Time hours, and it stated that it could be terminated by either party with five
See the discussion in Part II.A., supra.
Doc. no. 46 (Plaintiff’s Response in Opposition to Defendants’ Motions for Summary
Judgment), at 43.
days’ written notice.151 Thus, the only reasonable expectation that plaintiff could
have entertained, based upon the terms of that agreement, was to be paid the specified
rate for each hour of Extended Learning Time instruction she expended. The
agreement did not provide her a guarantee, or even an enhanced expectation, of
Because plaintiff cannot demonstrate that her transfer was an adverse
employment action, her discriminatory transfer claim must fail, and there is no need
to evaluate whether similarly situated black employees were treated more favorably
with regard to the transfer claim.
To succeed on the remaining element of her discriminatory termination claim,
plaintiff must demonstrate that similarly situated black employees were treated more
favorably than her. “‘To be an adequate comparator, the preferentially treated
individual from outside the plaintiff’s protected class has to be similarly situated to
the plaintiff in all relevant respects.’” Lewis v. City of Union City, 877 F.3d 1000,
1015 (11th Cir. 2017) (quoting Smith v. Lockheed-Martin Corp., 644 F.3d 1321, 1326
n.17 (11th Cir. 2011) (in turn citing Holifield v. Reno, 115 F.3d 1555, 1562 (11th Cir.
See doc. no. 47-9 (Agreement), the full text of which is quoted in part II.A., supra.
Plaintiff asserts that Jacqueline Willis, a black probationary math teacher at
Westlawn, was retained despite having a record of performance problems similar to
her own. It is true that Willis, like plaintiff, received negative comments from
Education Company consultant Dr. Shirley Kilgore on November 19, 2014. Even so,
those comments were not the same ones plaintiff received, and Dr. Kilgore did not
indicate, as she did with plaintiff, that Willis was beyond hope. Moreover, Willis
received only one writeup in her Human Resources file, while plaintiff received
several. Finally, although plaintiff asserts that Willis did not have to undergo the
rubric evaluation before her employment was renewed at the end of the 2014-2015
school year, there simply is no evidence to support that assertion. Plaintiff alleges
that her “Exhibit 7,” a list of employee names and “review numbers,” establishes that
Willis was not subjected to the rubric, but it is impossible to determine anything
about the contents or significance of that document from its face. That exhibit,
standing alone, proves nothing, and plaintiff has not offered any additional evidence
that the exhibit is what she says it is. Defendants, on the other hand, have explained
that the document actually is a list of probationary employees who were terminated
at the end of the 2014-2015 school year, and that Willis’s name was not on the list
because she was not terminated.
Other than the fact that they both were math teachers at Westlawn, plaintiff and
Willis do not have much in common. Because plaintiff has not identified a similarly
situated black comparator who was treated more favorably than her, she cannot
satisfy her prima facie case of race-based discriminatory termination. Even so, she
asserts that evidence “that she was systematically treated more adversely than a
similarly situated black employee, suffices to establish a convincing mosaic of
circumstantial evidence.”152 Indeed, the Eleventh Circuit has held that
“[E]stablishing the elements of the McDonnell Douglas
framework is not, and never was intended to be, the sine qua non for a
plaintiff to survive a summary judgment motion in an employment
discrimination case. Accordingly, the plaintiff’s failure to produce a
comparator does not necessarily doom the plaintiff’s case.” Smith v.
Lockheed-Martin Corp., 644 F.3d 1321, 1328 (11th Cir. 2011). Even
without similarly situated comparators, “the plaintiff will always survive
summary judgment if he [or she] presents circumstantial evidence that
creates a triable issue concerning the employer’s discriminatory intent.”
This, of course, is perfectly logical. Not every employee
subjected to unlawful discrimination will be able to produce a similarly
situated comparator. Among other things, a proper comparator simply
may not exist in every work place. Accordingly, a “plaintiff will always
survive summary judgment if he presents . . . ‘a convincing mosaic of
circumstantial evidence that would allow a jury to infer intentional
discrimination.’” Id. (quoting Silverman v. Bd. of Educ. of City of Chi.,
637 F.3d 729, 734 (7th Cir. 2011), overruled by Ortiz v. Werner Enters.,
Inc., 834 F.3d 760 (7th Cir. 2016) (footnote omitted)). A “convincing
mosaic” may be shown by evidence that demonstrates, among other
things, (1) “suspicious timing, ambiguous statements . . ., and other bits
and pieces from which an inference of discriminatory intent might be
Doc. no. 46 (Plaintiff’s Response in Opposition to Defendants’ Motions for Summary
Judgment), at 45.
drawn,” (2) systematically better treatment of similarly situated
employees, and (3) that the employer’s justification is pretextual.
Silverman, 637 F.3d at 733-34 (quotations omitted).
Lewis, 877 F.3d at 1018 (emphasis supplied, alterations in original).
Other than a summary reference to Willis’s allegedly better treatment, plaintiff
does not describe the convincing mosaic of circumstantial evidence that allegedly
supports her discriminatory termination claim. As discussed above, there is little
evidence that Willis was treated better than plaintiff, and there certainly is no
evidence that she or any other black employees were systematically treated better.
Absent satisfaction of the prima facie case, or any other evidence of
discriminatory intent, plaintiff’s discriminatory termination claim must fail.
Plaintiff also asserts that her transfer and termination were the result of
unlawful retaliation. “Retaliation is a separate violation of Title VII.” Gupta v.
Florida Board of Regents, 212 F.3d 571, 586 (11th Cir. 2000), overruled on other
grounds by Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railway Co. v. White, 548 U.S. 53
(2006). A plaintiff generally must prove three elements to establish a prima facie
case of retaliation: she engaged in statutorily protected expression; she suffered an
adverse employment action; and, there was a causal linkage between the protected
conduct and the adverse employment action. See, e.g., Shannon v. BellSouth
Telecommunications, Inc., 292 F.3d 712, 715 (11th Cir. 2002).
Once plaintiff establishes a prima facie case [of retaliation] by proving
only that the protected activity and the negative employment action are
not completely unrelated, the burden shifts to the defendant to proffer
a legitimate reason for the adverse action . . . . The burden then shifts
back to the plaintiff to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the
“legitimate” reason is merely pretext for prohibited, retaliatory conduct.
Sierminski v. Transouth Financial Corporation, 216 F.3d 945, 950 (11th Cir. 2000)
(citations omitted, alteration supplied).
Plaintiff filed her first EEOC charge on March 26, 2015, more than two months
after she was transferred to Hampton Cove. Thus, the transfer could not have been
in retaliation for filing the charge. The only time plaintiff complained of race-based
harassment prior to her transfer was during November 2014, when she told Pat Miller,
the HEA representative, that Principal Alexander was targeting her because she was
white. Pat Miller is not an employee of the Board, and there is no evidence that he
related plaintiff’s complaints of race discrimination to any Board employee, much
less an employee with authority to effect plaintiff’s transfer.
Plaintiff asserts, nevertheless, that the May 20, 2015 email from Director of
Secondary Programs Christie Finley to Assistant Superintendent Barbara Cooper
constitutes circumstantial, if not direct, evidence that her “race and her claim of racial
‘hostile work environment’ were the reason for the transfer.”153 However, the email
merely states, under the heading “Hostile Work Environment”: “Brenda Daniel –
district personnel had to meet with teacher and move her to another school.”154 There
is no mention of race discrimination, and no indication that the hostile environment
referred to was based upon plaintiff’s race. Because there is no evidence that plaintiff
complained of race-based harassment prior to her transfer, she cannot satisfy the first
element of her prima facie case for retaliatory transfer. See Coutu v. Martin County
Board of County Commissioners, 47 F.3d 1068, 1074 (11th Cir. 1995) (holding that
a complaint of “[u]nfair treatment, absent discrimination based on race, sex, or
national origin,” does not constitute statutorily protected activity) (alteration
As discussed in the previous section, plaintiff did not engage in any protected
activity until she filed her EEOC charge on March 26, 2015. Her termination on May
20, 2015, less than two months later, clearly was an adverse employment action.
Thus, the only remaining element of her prima facie case is a causal connection
between the protected activity and the adverse employment action. The temporal
Doc. no. 46 (Plaintiff’s Response in Opposition to Defendants’ Motions for Summary
Judgment), at 48.
Doc. no. 47-2 (May 20, 2015 Email).
proximity between plaintiff’s EEOC charge and her subsequent termination ordinarily
would be sufficient to establish a causal connection. See Robinson v. LaFarge North
America, Inc., 240 F. App’x 824, 828-29 (11th Cir. 2007) (“Robinson established a
prima facie case [of retaliation], as the demotion occurred only about two months
after he filed a grievance.”) (alteration supplied); Berman v. Orkin Exterminating Co.,
Inc., 160 F.3d 697, 702 (11th Cir. 1999) (holding that the plaintiff established a prima
facie case of retaliation when the adverse employment action “occurred within a
couple months of the [plaintiff’s] complaint”) (alteration supplied).
Here, however, defendants assert that the decision to terminate plaintiff’s
employment actually was made during the rubric review process, before plaintiff filed
her EEOC charge. It is disputed whether plaintiff’s rubric evaluation was completed
on March 4 or March 5, 2015, but in either event, it was completed before her EEOC
charge was filed. It is true that the list of employees who failed the rubric evaluation
was not forwarded to Human Resources, and then to the Superintendent for
termination recommendations to the Board, until closer to the end of the school year,
very likely after plaintiff’s EEOC charge was filed. Even so, the termination
recommendations were based upon the probationary teachers’ rubric scores, which,
at least in plaintiff’s case, were calculated prior to the date of the charge. Therefore,
even though the final, formal decision to terminate plaintiff’s employment was not
made until after the date on which she filed an EEOC charge, the events that set the
termination decision in motion occurred before the charge filing date. Thus, the
temporal proximity between the filing of the charge and the subsequent termination
is not sufficient to establish a causal connection. Consequently, plaintiff cannot
establish a prima facie case of retaliation, and summary judgment is due to be granted
in defendants’ favor on plaintiff’s retaliatory termination claim. See Drago v. Jenne,
453 F.3d 1301, 1308 (11th Cir. 2006) (“We hold that, in a retaliation case, when an
employer contemplates an adverse employment action before an employee engages
in protected activity, temporal proximity between the protected activity and the
subsequent adverse employment action does not suffice to show causation.”); Thomas
v. Department of Corrections for Georgia, 377 F. App’x 873, 882 (11th Cir. 2010)
(“[T]here is no requirement that, in order to show the absence of a causal connection,
an employer must show that it formally initiated an adverse action before the
employee engaged in protected activity.”) (alteration supplied).
Hostile Work Environment
Plaintiff asserts that defendants have admitted the existence of a hostile work
environment. She relies upon the May 20, 2015 email from Christie Finley to
Barbara Cooper, stating, under the heading “Hostile Work Environment”: “Brenda
Daniel – district personnel had to meet with teacher and move her to another
school.”155 That email might demonstrate that plaintiff had made complaints of a
hostile work environment, but it does not constitute an admission by defendants that
a hostile work environment actually existed. Moreover, as discussed above, the email
does not mention harassment because of plaintiff’s race.
Thus, plaintiff must provide proof of five elements in order to establish a prima
facie racially-hostile work-environment claim: (1) she belongs to a protected group;
(2) she was subjected to unwelcome harassment; (3) the harassment was based upon
her race; (4) the harassment was sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the terms or
conditions of her employment and create a discriminatory abusive working
environment; and (5) her employer is liable for the environment under a theory of
either direct or vicarious liability. See, e.g., Miller v. Kenworth of Dothan, Inc., 277
F.3d 1269, 1275 (11th Cir. 2002).
Plaintiff has acknowledged that Principal Alexander did not make any racebased comments to her or in her hearing. Instead, she asserts that Principal Alexander
subjected her to the following harassing acts: (1) “false write-ups designed to
communicate her lack of effectiveness as a teacher, as established by her rebuttals”;
(2) “a walk-through on the only day that it would have been impossible for her to
comply with the requirements of the walk-through due to the Board’s requirement of
the use of the classroom that morning for the Explore tests”; (3) “Alexander raised
her hand twice in the meeting with Plaintiff such that Plaintiff thought she was going
to be physically struck”; (4) “Principal Alexander and Counselor McCloud made
fun of her in front of students after Principal Alexander had decided to remove her
students”; (5) “[s]he was not provided help with difficult students, despite having
repeatedly asked for help”; and, (6) “[h]er assignments were removed and her
students were taken away from her, among many other adversities administered by
There is no apparent connection between any of these incidents and plaintiff’s
race. “Title VII does not prohibit all verbal or physical harassment in the workplace;
it is directed only at ‘discriminat[ion] . . . because of . . . [race].’” Oncale v.
Sundowner Offshore Services, Inc., 523 U.S. 75, 80 (1998) (emphasis and ellipses
supplied, first alteration in original, second alteration supplied); see also Mendoza v.
Borden, Inc., 195 F.3d 1238, 1253 (11th Cir. 1999) (“Title VII was never intended
to protect employees from all unpleasant and rude conduct in the workplace.”)
(Edmondson, J., concurring). The “‘critical issue,’” according to the Supreme Court,
“‘is whether members of one [race] are exposed to disadvantageous terms or
conditions of employment to which members of the other [race] are not exposed.’”
Doc. no. 46 (Plaintiff’s Response in Opposition to Defendants’ Motions for Summary
Judgment), at 61 (alterations supplied).
Oncale, 523 U.S. at 80 (quoting Harris v. Forklift Systems, Inc., 510 U.S. 17, 25
(1993) (Ginsburg, J., concurring)) (alterations supplied).
[t]he essence of a disparate treatment claim under Title VII is that an
employee or applicant is intentionally singled out for adverse treatment
on the basis of a prohibited criterion. . . . In proving a claim for a
hostile work environment due to [racial] harassment, therefore, the
plaintiff must show that but for the fact of her [race], she would not
have been the object of harassment. . . .
Henson v. City of Dundee, 682 F.2d 897, 903-04 (11th Cir. 1982) (citations omitted)
(emphasis and alterations supplied). “[U]nfair treatment of an employee, standing
alone, does not make out a Title VII case; the mistreatment must be because the
employee was [white].” Bell v. Crackin’ Good Bakers, Inc., 777 F.2d 1497, 1504
(11th Cir. 1985) (Hill, J., concurring in part; dissenting in part) (emphasis and
Furthermore, personal conflicts between two employees cannot serve as the
basis for a Title VII claim if they do not arise from the aggrieved employee’s
membership in a protected classification. “‘Title VII prohibits discrimination; it is not
a shield against harsh treatment at the work place. Personal animosity is not the
equivalent of [race] discrimination. . . . The plaintiff cannot turn a personal feud into
a [race] discrimination case. . . .’” Succar v. Dade County School Board, 229 F.3d
1343, 1345 (11th Cir. 2000) (per curiam) (quoting McCollum v. Bolger, 794 F.2d
602, 610 (11th Cir. 1986)) (alterations supplied, ellipses in original). Regardless of
the factual context in which the employees’ dispute arises, the court’s analysis of a
Title VII harassment claim should focus “only on whether the complaining employee
was targeted because of” her membership in a protected class. Succar, 229 F.3d at
1345 (emphasis supplied).
At best, the actions of which plaintiff complains reflect Principal Alexander’s
attempts to improve plaintiff’s job performance, or, at worst, a personality conflict
between plaintiff and Principal Alexander. The mere fact that plaintiff and Principal
Alexander are of different races does not transform either the two individuals’
personality conflict or plaintiff’s disagreement with Principal Alexander’s treatment
of her into a race discrimination claim. Plaintiff’s arguments to the contrary are
unavailing. She states:
Alexander only called in white employees on September 26, 2014,
after her rant-laden presentation threatening termination of employees.
The email in which hostile working environment claims are pointed out
by Finley are those of only white employees. Jacqueline Willis,
African-American math teacher, was not written up during the fall of
2014, despite the consultant’s very negative assessment of her, while
Plaintiff was written up six times, had her assignments removed and was
eventually forcibly transferred.
Doc. no. 46 (Plaintiffs’ Response in Opposition to Defendants’ Motions for Summary
Judgment), at 62. As an initial matter, these assertions only pertain to the first and
third alleged instances of harassment identified by plaintiff (i.e., write-ups and the
September 26 meeting with Principal Alexander). Plaintiff has not offered any
argument or evidence why the other incidents should be considered race-based.
Additionally, the evidence does not support plaintiff’s arguments. First,
plaintiff’s testimony that she only heard the names of white teachers being called into
private meetings with Principal Alexander on September 26 does not refute Principal
Alexander’s testimony that she met with both white and black teachers. Second, as
has been previously discussed, the May 20, 2015 email does not identify any alleged
hostile work environment as being based upon race, and it does not constitute
evidence that a hostile work environment existed, only that complaints had been
made. Third, there is no indication that Jacqueline Willis deserved to receive as many
write-ups as plaintiff, or that the Education Company consultant’s remarks regarding
Willis were as severe as the ones she made about plaintiff.
Absent any evidence of race-based harassment, plaintiff’s hostile work
environment claim must fail.
This court’s jurisdiction over plaintiff’s state law claim against Principal
Alexander for tortious interference with plaintiff’s employment was based upon 28
U.S.C. § 1367. In cases where the court’s jurisdiction is based solely upon a federal
question, the district court has discretion to entertain state claims that are
“supplemental” to the federal claim. See 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a). Even so, the district
court may decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction when:
the claim raises a novel or complex issue of State law,
(2) the claim substantially predominates over the claim or
claims over which the district court has original jurisdiction,
(3) the district court has dismissed all claims over which it has
original jurisdiction, or
(4) in exceptional circumstances, there are other compelling
reasons for declining jurisdiction.
28 U.S.C. § 1367(c) (alteration and emphasis supplied). The Supreme Court added
a gloss to this statutory language in Carnegie-Mellon University v. Cohill, 484 U.S.
343 (1988), when observing that
a federal court should consider and weigh in each case, and at every
stage of the litigation, the values of judicial economy, convenience,
fairness, and comity in order to decide whether to exercise jurisdiction
over a case brought in that court involving pendant [now
“supplemental”] state-law claims. When the balance of these factors
indicates that a case properly belongs in state court, as when the
federal-law claims have dropped out of the lawsuit in its early stages
and only state-law claims remain, the federal court should decline the
exercise of jurisdiction by dismissing the case without prejudice.
Id. at 349-50 (alteration and emphasis supplied) (citing United Mine Workers of
America v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715, 726-27 (1966)). “[I]n the usual case in which all
federal-law claims are eliminated before trial, the balance of factors to be considered
under the pendent [now supplemental] jurisdiction doctrine — judicial economy,
convenience, fairness, and comity — will point toward declining to exercise
jurisdiction over the remaining state-law claims.” Carnegie-Mellon, 484 U.S. at 350
n.7 (alterations supplied); see also L.A. Draper & Son v. Wheelabrator-Frye, Inc.,
735 F.2d 414, 428 (11th Cir. 1984) (stating that “if the federal claims are dismissed
prior to trial, Gibbs strongly encourages or even requires dismissal of state claims”)
Here, because all of plaintiff’s federal claims have been eliminated, this court
will decline supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining state law claim, and will
exercise its discretion to dismiss that claim.
IV. CONCLUSION AND ORDER
In accordance with the foregoing, it is ORDERED that defendants’ motions for
summary judgment are GRANTED. Plaintiff’s claims for race discrimination,
retaliation, and hostile work environment pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 1983 are
DISMISSED with prejudice. Plaintiff’s state law claim for tortious interference is
DISMISSED without prejudice to plaintiff’s right to refile the claim in an appropriate
state court. Costs are taxed to plaintiff. The Clerk is directed to close this file.
DONE this 11th day of April, 2018.
United States District Judge
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