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Dudley v. Bellwood School District# 88

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

May 3, 2013



CHARLES P. KOCORAS, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on the motion of Defendant Bellwood School District 88 ("Bellwood") for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. For the reasons set forth below the motion is granted.


Plaintiff Deborah Dudley ("Dudley"), an African American woman, was hired by Bellwood in 1977 as a kindergarten teacher at Wilson Elementary School in Bellwood, Illinois. In 2005 the Illinois State Board of Education ("ISBE") visited Wilson Elementary School to assess the school's compliance with the Reading First educational program aimed at ensuring uniform learning curriculums throughout the State of Illinois. The Reading First program instituted several teaching requirements which mandated the allotment of uninterrupted classroom reading time on a daily basis. The failure of a school to meet the Reading First benchmarks would jeopardize the school's receipt of numerous state funded grants.

During the ISBE's 2005 visit to Wilson Elementary School, Dudley's kindergarten class was visited. After the visit the ISBE sent a report of their observations to interim superintendent Willie Mack. The report critically assessed their observations of a kindergarten class; however it did not specify the particular instructor of the class. According to the ISBE report the instructor was absent from the room for long periods of time, called prolonged classroom breaks during the class's uninterrupted reading time and exhibited bizarre behavior. The ISBE report made clear that the kindergarten teacher in question showed a conscious lack of regard for the Reading First guidelines and put the school at risk for the discontinuation of the Reading First funds. The ISBE report recommended that the kindergarten teacher be moved to a school which does not have the Reading First requirements. Dudley was provided with documentation of the observations that ISBE made.

After the ISBE report, Dudley was reassigned to the Roosevelt Junior High School to serve as a sixth grade teacher in May 2006. After serving as a sixth grade teacher from 2006 to 2008 Dudley was moved back to teach kindergarten from 2008 until 2010 at Wilson Elementary School. Dudley retired on June 3, 2010.

Before Dudley retired she began to plan for her upcoming departure to ensure her benefits would continue after she left. In April 2010, Dudley contacted Bellwood's Human Resource Director Gwen Frasier ("Frazier") to review her personnel file. During the course of reviewing her personnel file Dudley asked for a copy of the 2005 ISBE report in conjunction with any disciplinary actions that Bellwood took in relation to the ISBE report. Frazier allegedly told Dudley that the 2005 ISBE report and disciplinary documents did not exist. Dudley's complaint alleges that at this time she believed Bellwood forged the ISBE report to facilitate her transfer to Roosevelt Junior High School.

Dudley filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on July 25, 2011, alleging that she was retaliated against. On August 17, 2011, Dudley received a Notice of Right to Sue, from the EEOC. On November 16, 2011 Dudley filed her complaint pro se. Dudley's complaint alleges: (1) racial discrimination in violation of Title VII, 28 U.S.C. § 2000(e) et seq. ("Title VII"); (2) retaliation in violation of Title VII; and (3) discrimination in violation of the Age Discrimination and Employment Act of 1967, 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq. ("ADEA"). Dudley has met all procedural prerequisites to bring the present suit.


Summary judgment is appropriate when the pleadings, discovery, disclosures, and affidavits establish that there is no genuine issue of material fact, such that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 (a); Winsley v. Cook Cnty., 563 F.3d 598, 602-03 (7th Cir. 2009). The moving party bears the initial burden of showing that no genuine issue of material fact exists. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986). The burden then shifts to the non-moving party to show through specific evidence that a triable issue of fact remains on issues on which the non-movant bears the burden of proof at trial. Id. The non-movant may not rest upon mere allegations in the pleadings or upon conclusory statements in affidavits; he must go beyond the pleadings and support his contentions with proper documentary evidence. Id. The court considers the record as a whole and draws all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion. Bay v. Cassens Transport Co., 212 F.3d 969, 972 (7th Cir. 2000). A genuine issue of material fact exists when "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).


Dudley cryptically alleges in her complaint that Bellwood violated Title VII and the ADEA over the course of her tenure as a teacher at Bellwood and continued after her 2010 retirement. Dudley alleges in Count I that Bellwood violated Title VII when they discriminated against her on the basis of her race and subjected her to a hostile work environment. In Count II Dudley asserts that Bellwood retaliated against her in violation of Title VII. Finally, in Count III Dudley alleges that Bellwood discriminated against her based on her age in violation of the ADEA.

I. Discrimination on the Basis of Race (Count I)

Dudley alleges that she experienced discrimination on the basis of her race in violation of Title VII. Title VII prohibits employers from "discriminat[ing] against any individual with respect to h[er] compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin." 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1). Dudley argues that she can establish her Title VII race discrimination claim in two ways. First, Dudley contends that she can establish a disparate treatment claim. Second, Dudley alleges that Bellwood ...

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