Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

BANKHEAD v. WAUKEGAN SCHOOL DISTRICT

September 7, 2005.

PEGGY BANKHEAD, Plaintiff,
v.
WAUKEGAN SCHOOL DISTRICT, et al., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: HARRY LEINENWEBER, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Peggy Bankhead (hereinafter, "Plaintiff") filed a complaint against Defendant Waukegan School District (hereinafter, the "District") alleging employment discrimination based on race under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. Before the Court is the Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. For the following reasons, the motion is granted.

I. BACKGROUND

  Plaintiff, an African American, was a Paraprofessional/Special Education Assistant in the District's Alternative Behavior Disorder Student Support/Hearing Impaired Center (the "ABDSSC"). Her employment with the District was brief. She was hired in February 2001 and terminated on May 31, 2001. Throughout the duration of Plaintiff's employment, Frederick Howard (an African American) was the Associate Superintendent of Human Resources and ultimately responsible for hiring and firing Plaintiff. Plaintiff's supervisor, Charlene Johnson (Caucasian), and former Deputy Superintendent, Myron Dagley (Caucasian), interviewed Plaintiff and recommended her hiring. Both also eventually recommended Plaintiff's termination. A Paraprofessional's principal job duties include assisting certified classroom teachers, while attending to the special needs of students at the ABDSSC.

  Plaintiff's short tenure with the District was tumultuous. In March, after Plaintiff began work in the ABDSSC, Johnson received several complaints concerning Plaintiff's interaction with students. Johnson's affidavit indicates two specific instances, although no other documentation reflects these complaints. (Johnson Aff. ¶¶ 8, 9). Johnson communicated these complaints to Plaintiff, who denied any wrongdoing on her part. On April 8, 2001, however, teacher and coworker Kenneth Roznowski submitted his required paraprofessional evaluation of Plaintiff, giving her an excellent rating in all categories.

  On April 25, 2001, Johnson wrote a supervision note (or, write-up) concerning a specific incident involving Plaintiff and several students, and shared the note in a meeting with Plaintiff. Johnson did not witness the incident, but received complaints from the students involved in the incident. The note stated that an unnamed staff member overheard and confirmed Plaintiff's derogatory comments — specifically, "[y]our mama's a bitch" and "[y]ou are just a sent off" — aimed at the students. In the note, Johnson stated that appropriate professional behavior "includes not arguing with students or using inappropriate language." (Def. 56.1, Exh. G). After meeting with Johnson, Plaintiff handwrote over the note, "Never will I sign this. This is a lie." Her position is that she admits that an incident with the complaining students occurred, but denies making the comments and that the characterization of events was fabricated.

  Johnson's second supervision note reprimanding Plaintiff occurred on May 16, 2001. On that day, Plaintiff was in a classroom with an ABDSSC student who was acting in a negative fashion. Plaintiff and the student exchanged words and eventually, a security guard and Johnson directed Plaintiff to leave the classroom. Plaintiff did not leave and the security guard carried her out of the room. (Davis Aff. ¶¶ 4-8; Pl. Dep. at 51). Johnson's note and other testimony differ from Plaintiff's account of the incident. In Johnson's version of the incident, Plaintiff was observed yelling at the student. On the other hand, Plaintiff testified that the student's behavior was threatening, that she did not raise her voice, but instead was terrified of the student and asked a security guard for assistance. Johnson was in the classroom near the end of the altercation and told Plaintiff that she had escalated the situation between her and the student, although Plaintiff disagreed. The note that Plaintiff received, but again refused to sign, stated: "Your behavior today was unprofessional and unacceptable at ABDSSC. Again, I remind you that it is my expectation that staff always maintain their composure and be an appropriate role model for students. Another incident of this nature could result in your termination." (Def. 56.1, Exh. H).

  Following the May 16th incident, Plaintiff expressed concerns to Dagley over several of the past incidents and alleged mistreatment by supervisor Johnson. On May 23, 2001, Plaintiff and her union representative met with Johnson and Dagley. Co-workers Pipes and Roznowski also were asked to attend parts of the meeting. The meeting did not go well. Plaintiff felt as though her supervisors attacked her professionally and personally by compiling evidence against her, instead of listening to her side of the story. (Pl. Dep. at 69-76). At one point, Plaintiff became upset and attempted to leave, but chose to stay after some persuasion by her union representative. (Id. at 77-78).

  Shortly after the meeting, Johnson and Dagley recommended in memoranda to Howard that he terminate Plaintiff's employment. (Def. 56.1, Exhs. K & L). Dagley's memorandum details his version of the meeting, claiming Plaintiff "was very antagonistic in her reaction," "hostile," "rude, and unprofessional." (Id., Exh. L). He also stated that Plaintiff's co-workers who spoke at the meeting "failed to substantiate any pattern of behavior by Ms. Johnson which would resemble the allegations [of preferential treatment or prejudice]."

  Plaintiff received a standard contract renewal form sometime in early May 2001. She signed the form on May 21, 2001 and sent it back to the District. (Pl. Exh. B). However, on May 31, 2001, Howard terminated Plaintiff's employment by letter. (Def. 56.1, Exh. M). Thereafter, Plaintiff filed a grievance with her union, whose representative sent a letter to Howard, but did not pursue the complaint any further because Plaintiff was a probationary employee. (Pl. Exh. D). She also filed a discrimination charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (the "EEOC") on September 18, 2001 alleging that she was terminated because of her race.

  II. SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

  Summary judgment is appropriate when "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c). A genuine issue of triable fact exists only if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Pugh v. City of Attica, 259 F.3d 619, 624 (7th Cir. 2001) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). III. DISCUSSION

  Plaintiff's complaint alleges that Defendant discriminated against her based on race in violation of Title VII. The District moves for summary judgment on the ground that Plaintiff has failed to produce facts ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.