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HILL v. CHICAGO BOARD OF EDUCATION

March 29, 2004.

ALLAN HILL, Plaintiff,
v.
CHICAGO BOARD OF EDUCATION, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: REBECCA PALLMEYER, District Judge

AMENDED MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Allan Hill ("Hill"), a teacher at Edgebrook Elementary School ("Edgebrook"), filed this action in May 2002 against his employer, the Board of Education of the City of Chicago (the "Board"),*fn1 alleging retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. ("Title VII"). Hill learned from several female that a group of male students in his social studies class had made lewd remarks and gestures toward and hit and spit on the female students. Subsequently, after observing two male students in class laughing at a student who spoke slowly, Hill compared this group of male students to "gangbangers" and reported the incidents to Edgebrook's principal. A few days later, while driving home from school, Plaintiff yelled at several of these male students after he observed them walking in the street. After investigating Hill's actions, the Board adopted a resolution stating that he had engaged in "unsatisfactory conduct" and warning that the Board would bring dismissal charges if he again engaged in such conduct. Hill claims the Board's investigation and resolution were in retaliation for his complaints to the principal of Edgebrook regarding the male students' behavior. The Board now moves for summary judgment. For the reasons stated below, the Board's motion is granted. Page 2

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

 I. Plaintiff's Employment History

  Plaintiff Hill has been a teacher in the Chicago Public Schools since September 1961. (Hill Dep., Ex. C to Def.'s 56.1,*fn2 at 9.) From 1972 to the present, Plaintiff has taught social studies, literature, and gym to sixth, seventh, and eighth graders at Edgebrook. (Def.'s 56.1 ¶¶ 15-16.)

 II. Disciplinary Procedures

  On July 15, 1991, the Board adopted a Uniform Discipline Code (the "Code"), which established various disciplinary actions for student misconduct.*fn3 The Code provides that "[i]f a student commits a serious act of misconduct, a Misconduct Report is prepared and the parent/guardian/student is contacted notifying [him or her] of the misconduct."*fn4 During the 2000-2001 school year, Plaintiff wrote approximately 26 Misconduct Reports. (Def.'s 56.1 ¶ 23.) Plaintiff believes that a teacher may only write a Misconduct Report for an incident that occurs on school property.*fn5 (Id. ¶ 26; Hill Dep., at 27.) For the past five years or more, however, Plaintiff has advised students that they may also inform him of student misconduct that occurs off school property. (Def.'s 56.1 ¶ 24.) If Plaintiff receives more than one report of such misconduct, he asks the reporting student to describe the misconduct on an index card. (Hill Dep., at 22-23.) If the incident appears to be sufficiently serious, Plaintiff instructs the student to give the card to Dr. Dianne Maciejewski ("Maciejewski"), who has been principal of Edgebrook and Plaintiff's immediate Page 3 supervisor for 17 years.*fn6 Plaintiff then speaks with the alleged perpetrator of the misconduct, (Id. at 23.)

 III. Alleged Harassment of Female Students

  In September 2000, a parent and several unnamed students told Plaintiff that six male students in his seventh grade social studies class-P.W., S.P., T.O., A.F., K.R., and M.M.-called themselves "The Posse." (Hill Dep., at 40, 60-61, 63; Ex. 6 to Maciejewski Dep., Ex. D to Def.'s 56.1; Def.'s 56.1 ¶ 81; Pl.'s Resp. 56.1*fn7 ¶ 82; Pl.'s 56.1*fn8 ¶ 5.) Defendant points out that "Plaintiff has no first hand knowledge that a group of six male students in his class called themselves The Posse,'" but does not challenge Plaintiff's assertion that this report was made. (Def.'s 56.1 ¶ 82; Def.'s Resp, 56.1*fn9 ¶ 5.) According to Plaintiff, "at least once a week, and sometimes more often," during the period September through November 2000, at least five seventh and eighth grade female students reported to Plaintiff that alleged members of "The Posse" were engaging in "[i]ncidents of harassment." (Pl.'s 56.1 ¶¶ 5-6; Hill Aff., Ex. B to Pl.'s Resp. 56.1 ¶¶ 11,*fn10 16; Hill Dep., at 112.) Again, Defendant notes that "Plaintiff never saw or heard the allege[d] perpetrators sexually harass the complaining female students." (Def.'s 56.1 ¶ 32; Def.'s Resp. 56.1 ¶ 5.) Plaintiff described three such incidents. First, near the beginning of the 2000-2001 school year, Page 4 some of Plaintiff's female students told him that several of these male students were "harassing" them and "making obscene and suggestive actions and sexual propositions." (Hill Aff. ¶ 5; Pl.'s 56.1 ¶ 1.)

  Second, during the second or third week of school, a group of female seventh and eighth grade students told Plaintiff that, on the playground, several of these male students "were swearing at them [a]nd in the most vile sexual ways possible suggesting different things that they wanted the girls to do to them, calling them bitches. . . . " (Hill Dep., at 100-01.) On September 21 or 22, Plaintiff verbally described this incident to Maciejewski and told her, "This has got to stop. They don't have the right to do that to those girls." (Hill Dep., at 100-01; Def.'s 56.1 ¶ 31) Plaintiff testified that Maciejewski responded that she would look into the matter. (Hill Dep., at 102.) Third, at some point prior to October 18, three female students told Plaintiff that P.W. and M.M. chased, caught, hit, and spit on them while they were walking home from school. (Def.'s 56.1 ¶ 43; Pl.'s 56.1 ¶ 11; Hill Dep., at 60-62.)

  After being told about each of these incidents, Plaintiff "sent the complaining student to [Maciejewski] with the incident reported on a card." (Pl.'s 56.1 ¶ 6, 8; Hill Aff. ¶ 12; Hill Dep., at 112.) The record does not indicate whether Maciejewski ever in fact spoke with any of these female students,*fn11 received any cards from them,*fn12 or took any follow-up actions. It is undisputed that Plaintiff never complained to anyone at the Board that male students were harassing female Page 5 students. (Def.'s 56.1 ¶ 38.) Plaintiff testified that he never submitted written documentation of these accusations "because I couldn't prove it. It would almost be like hearsay." (Hill Dep., at 103.) Plaintiff acknowledges that he never observed any of the alleged perpetrators sexually harassing any female students, and that parents of the female students who alleged sexual harassment never informed Plaintiff that they had voiced their concerns to Maciejewski. (Def.'s 56.1 ¶¶ 32, 37.)

 IV. Students' In-Class Behavior, Plaintiff's Actions, and Parents' Complaints

  During Plaintiff's October 18 seventh grade social studies class, S.P. and T.O. laughed at another student, J.J., who had a "slow speech pattern," while J.J, was talking. (Def.'s 56.1 ¶¶ 40, 42; Hill Dep., at 40, 60.) Plaintiff testified that all of the alleged members of "The Posse" had laughed at J.J. at various times in class prior to October 18. (Hill Dep., at 40, 55-57, 66-67.) At some point during this October 18 class, presumably after the laughing incident, Plaintiff told the alleged Posse members, "If you want to act like gangbangers, we're going to start behaving like gangbusters." (Def.'s 56.1 ¶¶ 81-83; Hill Dep., at 149.)

  Approximately 30 or 40 minutes after class had ended, Plaintiff brought S.P. and T.O. to Maciejewski and told her that they had laughed at J.J. and that Plaintiff intended to write them up; Maciejewski said, "Okay," and told Plaintiff to inform two other Edgebrook teachers about the incident. (Pl.'s 56.1 ¶ 53; Hill Dep., at 59-60; 79.) Hill also told Maciejewski (apparently in the presence of S.P. and T.O.) that "these guys were acting like gangbangers. We should keep them apart because when they [a]re together they are trouble." (Hill Dep., at 78-79; Def.'s 56.1 ¶ 80.) In addition, Plaintiff told Maciejewski about the incident in which P.W. and M.M. allegedly chased, caught, hit, and spit on three female students. (Def.'s 56.1 ¶ 43; Pl.'s 56.1 ¶ ...


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