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Green v. East Aurora School District No. 131

February 5, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Matthew F. Kennelly, District Judge


Robert Green has sued East Aurora School District No. 131, claiming age discrimination in violation of the Age Discrimination and Employment Act (ADEA), 29 U.S.C. § 623(a); race discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a); and retaliation in violation of Title VII, Id. at § 2000e-3(a). The District has moved for summary judgment on all of Green's claims. For the following reasons, the Court grants the District's motion in part and denies it in part.


Because the District has moved for summary judgment, the Court views the facts in the light most favorable to Green and draws reasonable inferences in his favor. See, e.g., Nat'l Athletic Sportswear, Inc. v. Westfield Ins. Co., 528 F.3d 508, 512 (7th Cir. 2008).

Green, who is African-American, was born in 1955. He is a certified teacher and began working as a physical education teacher and coach for the District in 1980. While working for the District, he coached football, boys' and girls' basketball, and track and field at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. Green completed courses such as sports first aid and principles of coaching while employed with the District.

The District compensates teachers for taking on "stipend" positions, which include coaching, in the form of a payment that is typically some fraction of the teacher's salary. Green stated that he earned as much as $2,000 per year for a stipend position.

In 1993, Green was assigned to Simmons Middle School, where he held a number of stipend positions. Green coached track and field from at least 2001 and continued to do so through 2005. He also coached boys' basketball during the 2003-2004 season and assistant-coached girls' basketball during the 2004-2005 season. Green was also assigned another stipend position, that of team leader, for 2003-2004. As team leader, he acted as a liaison between the administration and teachers on his team. In 2004, Randal Ellison, the principal at Simmons, removed Green from the team leader position. Ellison stated that he removed Green because he had missed eight of ten mandatory team leader meetings. Green contends that he was surprised at the removal because he had been team leader since 2002 without any complaints.

During the 2004-2005 school year, Jesus Barraza became the athletic director at Simmons. As athletic director, Barraza supervised the athletic programs and recommended teachers for coaching positions to Ellison. Ellison made the appointments based on Barraza's recommendations.

Just before the start of the 2005 track and field season, Barraza asked Green to resign as head coach. Barraza stated that he told Green that he should resign because there had been several complaints about his coaching behavior. According to Barraza, Green promised to improve his behavior. Green contends that Barraza only mentioned that Green had failed to participate in two basketball-related events as the reason for requesting that he resign. Barraza relented and allowed Green to remain as track and field coach for the season.

In April 2005, Green filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) a charge of unlawful discrimination charge against the District. Both Barraza and Ellison were aware that Green had filed the charge.

In the spring of 2005, Barraza asked teachers to inform him if they were interested in coaching during the next school year. No specific vacancies were announced. Shortly thereafter, Green left a note for Barraza stating "I am interested in coaching next year!" Def. Mot. at 10. Barraza, however, did not recommend Green for any coaching positions for the 2005-2006 school year, and Ellison did not appoint Green to any such positions.

Barraza recommended several teachers for coaching positions that year. He recommended Phil Lowe to be appointed girls' basketball coach. Lowe, who is African-American, was twenty-five years old at the time. Barraza recommended Joel Knobloch to be appointed track and field coach. Knobloch, who is white, was twenty-eight years old at the time. Barraza recommended Dave Hamilton, who is white, to be appointed football coach. Ellison subsequently appointed each of these individuals to those coaching positions.

The District's policy requires that certified teachers be given a preference for coaching positions over non-certified teachers. Neither Lowe nor Hamilton was a certified teacher when Ellison appointed them. In addition, the District's policy stated that only teachers who had completed courses in sports first aid and coaching principles were eligible for coaching positions. Although Green had successfully completed both of those courses, none of the teachers appointed instead of Green had done so.

In the fall of 2005, Simmons' wrestling coach resigned just before the start of the season. Barraza sent out a district-wide e-mail soliciting applications for the position. He did not receive any applications. Barraza canceled the ...

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