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Crumpley v. Rich Township High School Dist. # 227

July 13, 2009

DIANE M. CRUMPLEY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
RICH TOWNSHIP HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT # 227, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: James F. Holderman Chief Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

Introduction

Diane M. Crumpley filed this lawsuit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq., and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, 29 U.S.C. §§ 626 et seq., against her former employer Rich Township High School District # 227 ("District 227"). Crumpley alleged she was terminated from her position as a special education teacher at Rich East High School ("Rich East") in March 2007 because of her white race, her female sex, and her age, at the time, of forty-two years.*fn1 She also alleged that she was terminated in retaliation for speaking out against District 227's conduct in contravention of the No Child Left Behind Act. Before the court now is District 227's motion for summary judgment on all of Crumpley's claims. For the reasons stated below, District 227's motion is granted as to Crumpley's Title VII and ADEA claims and denied as to her retaliation claim.

Background

In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, this court must consider the facts before it in a light most favorable to the non-moving party, drawing all reasonable inferences and resolving all doubts in the non-moving party's favor. Woodruff v. Mason, 542 F.3d 545, 550 (7th Cir. 2008). Therefore, in considering District 227's motion, the court will review the facts properly before it and draw all reasonable inferences in Crumpley's favor.

On June 16, 2003, Crumpley joined the Alpha program at Rich East as a probationary reading and language arts teacher. (Pl.'s L.R. 56.1 Resp. to Def.'s Stmt. of Undisputed Facts ¶¶ 6, 9.) The Alpha program was designed to serve the needs of District 227's cognitively or physically disabled students. (Id.) As a probationary teacher, Crumpley's contract required renewal every year based on her performance during that year (id. ¶ 16), and after four years she would have been eligible for tenure (Crumpley Dep. 135:21-24).

During the 2006 school year, Dr. Jeff Craig, a white male in his mid-forties, served as the principal at Rich East, and Kelly Gould, a white female, was the Special Education Coordinator. (Pl.'s L.R. 56.1 Resp. to Def.'s Stmt. of Undisputed Facts ¶¶ 12-13.) Craig and Gould were responsible for evaluating teacher performance within the Alpha program. (Id. ¶ 17.) Teacher evaluations consisted of in-class observations by Craig and Gould followed by performance review conferences. (Id. ¶ 21.) According to Crumpley's "teacher performance appraisal," Craig observed Crumpley on October 26, 2006. (Id. ¶ 18.) Gould observed Crumpley in class on October 30, 2006 and February 9, 2007. (Id. ¶ 20.) Crumpley's performance review conference with Craig took place on October 27, 2006. (Id. ¶ 19.) Her conferences with Gould took place on November 1, 2006 and February 21, 2007. (Id. ¶ 21.)

Notes from the performance review conferences were memorialized in a "teacher performance appraisal," and at the end of the school year Craig and Gould prepared a "Summative Evaluation" (id. ¶ 22), in which they assigned each teacher a rating of "Excellent," "Satisfactory" or "Unsatisfactory" (id. ¶ 24). Ratings were assigned based on the teachers' performance in four roles: "Teaching and Learning," "Communication," "Professional Responsibilities," and "Human Relations." (Pl.'s L.R. 56.1 Resp. to Def.'s Stmt. of Undisputed Facts ¶ 23.) Each role contained "essentials" a teacher must demonstrate to receive a positive rating in that role. (Def.'s L.R. 56.1 Stmt. of Undisputed Material Facts, Ex. 8 )There was also a section for comments from the review sessions and the Summative Evaluation. (Pl.'s L.R. 56.1 Resp. to Def.'s Stmt. of Undisputed Facts ¶¶ 27-29.)

Craig and Gould prepared Crumpley's Summative Evaluation on March 12, 2007.

(Def.'s L.R. 56.1 Stmt. of Undisputed Material Facts ¶ 30.) Crumpley received a score of "Satisfactory" for her "Teaching and Learning" role. (Id. ¶ 26.) Crumpley was rated "Unsatisfactory" in the categories of "Communication," "Professional Responsibilities," and "Human Relations." (Id.) Crumpley's final rating was "Unsatisfactory." (Id.)

Comments from the Summative Evaluation dated March 12, 2007 were as follows concerning "Communication":

Since November 2006 there have been several incidents which are an areas [sic] of concern. Ms. Crumpley, after discussing an issue with a parent, failed to follow through with agreed upon remediation of stated issue. In addition, Ms. Crumpley has not been keeping parents informed of behavioral issues of their child. This lack of follow through resulted in parent complaints to her supervisors to resolve this issue. (Def.'s L.R. 56.1 Stmt. of Undisputed Material Facts, Ex. 8 at 3.)

Comments from the Summative Evaluation dated March 12, 2007, regarding Crumpley's "Professional Responsibilities" role were as follows:

Ms. Crumpley continues to minimize the workday by her lack of punctualtiy [sic]. This has been brought to her attention. Although a particpate [sic] in program meetings, Ms. Crumpley disregards agreed upon courses of action and procedes [sic] to implement her own course of action, without seeking ...


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