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Chad Roark v. Lagrange School District 105

March 30, 2012

CHAD ROARK, PLAINTIFF,
v.
LAGRANGE SCHOOL DISTRICT 105, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Ronald A. Guzman

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff has sued defendant for its alleged violations of the Family Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"), 29 U.S.C. § 2615, the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12112, and the Illinois School Code, 105 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/10-22.4. Defendant has filed a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 56 motion for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants in part and denies in part the motion.

Facts

In 2006, defendant hired plaintiff to teach seventh grade science at Gurrie Middle School, and later renewed his contract for the 2007-08 and 2008-09 school years. (Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) Stmt., Facts Supporting Summ. J. ¶¶ 1, 4-5); see 105 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/24-11 (stating that teachers hired after 1988 are subject to a four-year probationary term). At the start of the 2008-09 school year, Gurrie Principal Ed Hood told plaintiff that Barbara Baldassarre, the mother of one of plaintiff's students, had complained about plaintiff's use of the science text book. (Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) Stmt. ¶ 6.) Hood asked plaintiff to discuss the issue with Baldassarre, and plaintiff did. (Id. ¶¶ 7-8.)

On October 30, 2008, Baldassarre asked plaintiff for feedback on one of her son's assignments and to explain the weight plaintiff assigned to various projects. (Id. ¶ 10.) Plaintiff emailed a response the same day, but Baldassarre did not receive it. (Id. ¶ 11.)

On November 4, 2008, after learning that his response had gone astray, plaintiff emailed it to Baldassarre again. (Id. ¶ 12.)

On November 6, 2008, Baldassarre sent an email to Hood confirming that plaintiff had responded to her October 30, 2008 email and stating that her "frustration and concern continues with regard to some of the course content, expectations and communication." (Id. ¶ 13; see Def.'s Ex. 8, Email from Baldassarre to Hood (Nov. 6, 2008).)

In early February 2009, plaintiff had a parent-teacher conference with Baldassarre, during which she complained abut the science curriculum, the length of time it took plaintiff to grade homework and a lab project that her son had done in class. (Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) Stmt. ¶ 16.) During the conference, plaintiff told Baldassarre that she "had been out to get him since day one." (Id. ¶ 17.)

On February 27, 2009, after various meetings with Baldassarre, Hood and plaintiff, Superintendent Glenn Schlicting instructed plaintiff to address Baldassarre's concerns by: (1) developing grading rubrics for new units and labs; (2) grading and returning homework within three days and projects/labs within two weeks; and (3) providing extended work packets to high-skill students. (Id. ¶¶ 18-20, 22-23, 25; see Def.'s Ex. 12, Email from Schlicting to Pl. (Feb. 27, 2009).)

On March 4, 2009, Schlicting emailed plaintiff: "When will your new unit begin?" (See Def.'s Ex. 13, Email from Schlicting to Pl. (Mar. 4, 2009).) Plaintiff says he responded to the email by giving Schlicting a copy of the rubric he had prepared and telling Schlicting about the status of the other tasks. (Pl.'s Aff. ¶ 23.)

On March 17, 2009, Schlicting emailed plaintiff: "Would you give me an update of where you are at with the rubric/extension project for your upcoming unit? (See Def.'s Ex. 14, Email from Schlicting to Pl. (Mar. 17, 2009).) The same day, plaintiff left school early to see a doctor because he could not focus and was having anxiety. (Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) Stmt. ¶ 28.)

Sometime thereafter, Hood and Mandy Hansen, plaintiff's teaching team leader, found what they believed were weeks' worth of ungraded papers in plaintiff's classroom. (Id. ¶ 33.)

On March 20, 2009, Hood sent plaintiff a letter telling him he could take FMLA leave and asking him to tell Hood by March 25, 2009 whether he would return to teaching after spring break. (Def.'s Ex. 15, Letter from Hood to Pl. (Mar. 20, 2009).)

On March 26, 2009, Schlicting sent plaintiff a letter "to follow up on [his] concerns abut [plaintiff's] recent patterns of behavior." (Def.'s Ex. 16, Letter from ...


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