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O'connor v. Chicago Bd of Ed

June 19, 2012


Name of Assigned Judge Sitting Judge if Other or Magistrate Judge Amy J. St. Eve than Assigned Judge



The Court denies Defendant's motion for summary judgment [41]. Status hearing set for 7/19/12 is stricken and reset to 6/27/12 at 8:30 a.m.

O[ For further details see text below.] Notices mailed by Judicial staff.


On May 18, 2011, Plaintiff Valentina L. O'Connor filed a two-count First Amended Complaint alleging that her employer, Defendant Chicago Board of Education (the "Board"), violated the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 ("FMLA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 2615(a)(1), (b). Before the Court is the Board's summary judgment motion pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a). For the following reasons, the Court denies the Board's motion.


I. Northern District of Illinois Local Rule 56.1

Local Rule 56.1 assists the Court by "organizing the evidence, identifying undisputed facts, and demonstrating precisely how each side propose[s] to prove a disputed fact with admissible evidence." Bordelon v. Chicago Sch. Reform Bd. of Trs., 233 F.3d 524, 527 (7th Cir. 2000). "The Rule is designed, in part, to aid the district court, 'which does not have the advantage of the parties' familiarity with the record and often cannot afford to spend the time combing the record to locate the relevant information,' in determining whether a trial is necessary." Delapaz v. Richardson, 634 F.3d 895, 899 (7th Cir. 2011) (citation omitted). Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) requires the moving party to provide "a statement of material facts as to which the moving party contends there is no genuine issue." Cracco v. Vitran Exp., Inc., 559 F.3d 625, 632 (7th Cir. 2009). "The opposing party is required to file 'a response to each numbered paragraph in the moving party's statement, including, in the case of any disagreement, specific references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon." Id. (citing N.D. Ill. R. 56.1(b)(3)(B)). Pursuant to the Local Rules, the Court will not consider any additional facts proposed in the nonmoving party's Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B) Response, but instead must rely on the non-movant's Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C) Statement of Additional Facts. See Ciomber v. Cooperative Plus, Inc., 527 F.3d 635, 643 (7th Cir. 2008).

The purpose of Local Rule 56.1 statements is to identify the relevant admissible evidence supporting the material facts, not to make factual or legal arguments. See Cady v. Sheahan, 467 F.3d 1057, 1060 (7th Cir. 2006) ("statement of material facts did [] not comply with Rule 56.1 as it failed to adequately cite the record and was filled with irrelevant information, legal arguments, and conjecture"). Moreover, the requirements for responses under Local Rule 56.1 are "not satisfied by evasive denials that do not fairly meet the substance of the material facts asserted." Bordelon, 233 F.3d at 528. The Court may also disregard statements and responses that do not properly cite to the record. See Cady, 467 F.3d at 1060. With these standards in mind, the Court turns to the relevant facts of this case.

II. Relevant Facts

O'Connor began working for the Chicago Public Schools in 1994 and is presently teaching at New Millennium High School as a special education teacher. (R. 44, Def.'s Rule 56.1 Stmt. Facts ¶ 1; R. 53, Pl.'s Rule 56.1 Stmt. Facts ¶ 1.) From September 2005 to June 2011, O'Connor was a special education teacher at Global Visions Academy High School ("Global Visions") in Chicago. (Def.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 2.) Global Visions was a small high school consisting of approximately 250-300 students that shared the Bowen campus with three other small Chicago Public Schools. (Id. ¶ 3.) On June 30, 2011, the Board closed Global Visions and consolidated the four small schools on the Bowen campus into one school, namely, the New Millennium High School, where O'Connor presently teaches. (Id. ¶ 4.) LaTonya Austin was the principal of Global Visions from July 2007 until the school closed in June 2011. (Id. ¶ 5; Pl.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 16.)

During the relevant time period, the school day at Global Visions began at 8:00 a.m. (Def.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 7.) During the first month of the 2008-2009 school year, O'Connor was approximately 40 minutes late to school on September 8, 9, 10, and 11. (Id. ¶ 15.) Thereafter, Principal Austin gave O'Connor a verbal reprimand. (Id.) In addition, O'Connor was 20 to 40 minutes late to school on September 16, 17, 19, 22, 23, 25, and 26, 2008. (Id. ¶ 16.) At some point in October 2008, Principal Austin gave O'Connor a written reprimand. (Id. ¶ 17.) After the October 2008 reprimand, O'Connor was late approximately 49 times, and thus in April 2009, Principal Austin suspended O'Connor for three days. (Id. ¶¶ 18, 37; R. 57, Pl.'s Ex. 32.)

In addition, from January 14, 2010 through February 3, 2010, O'Connor was late to her first period class on seven separate occasions, after which Principal Austin issued a Notice of Discipline to O'Connor on February 24, 2010. (Id. ¶¶ 40, 41.) On March 11, 2010, Principal Austin issued a Notice of Disciplinary Action and suspended O'Connor for five days. (Id. ¶ 41.) On April 29, 2010, Principal Austin issued a Notice of Pre-Disciplinary Hearing based on O'Connor punching into work at different locations -- such at Morgan Park High School which was approximately ten miles away from Global Visions -- but the hearing was not ...

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