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Waddy v. Board of Education of City of Chicago

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

July 24, 2014

WENDI WADDY, DENISE HAYES, THORNELL HUNTER, CAROLYN KELLY, SHIRLEY SMITH, MARGARET STORY, and MARY STACK Plaintiffs,
v.
THE BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE CITY OF CHICAGO and ACADEMY FOR URBAN SCHOOL LEADERSHIP, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JOHN Z. LEE, District Judge.

Plaintiff Thornell Hunter ("Plaintiff"), proceeding pro se, alleges race and age discrimination against the Board of Education of the City of Chicago ("the Board") and the Academy for Urban School Leadership ("AUSL"). Plaintiff brings his various claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq., 42 U.S.C. § 1981, and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Board and AUSL now move for summary judgment against Plaintiff. For the reasons stated herein, the Court grants summary judgment in Defendants' favor on all of Plaintiff's claims.

Local Rule 56.1

In the Northern District of Illinois, motions for summary judgment are governed by Local Rule 56.1. Local Rule 56.1 requires a party moving for summary judgment to file "a statement of material facts as to which the moving party contends there is no genuine issue and that entitle the moving party to a judgment as a matter of law, " consisting of numbered paragraphs and referencing affidavits and other materials relied upon for factual support. Local Rule 56.1(a)(3). Local Rule 56.1 also requires a party opposing summary judgment to file "a concise response to the movant's statement that shall contain... a response to each numbered paragraph in the moving party's statements, including, in the case of any disagreement, specific references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon." Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B). The opposing party's response must also contain "a statement... of any additional facts that require the denial of summary judgment, including references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon." Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C).

"The obligation set forth in Local Rule 56.1 is not a mere formality. Rather, it follows from the obligation imposed by Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e) on the party opposing summary judgment to identify specific facts that establish a genuine issue for trial." Delapaz v. Richardson, 634 F.3d 895, 899 (7th Cir. 2011) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). Consequently, when a nonmovant fails to abide by Local Rule 56.1, all material facts set forth in the moving party's statement are deemed admitted. Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C); Smith v. Lamz, 321 F.3d 680, 683 (7th Cir. 2003) ("We have consistently held that a failure to respond by the nonmovant as mandated by the local rules results in an admission."). A litigant is obligated to comply with Local Rule 56.1 even if proceeding pro se. See, e.g., Greer v. Bd. of Educ. of City of Chi., Ill., 267 F.3d 723, 727 (7th Cir. 2001); Gray v. Cannon, 974 F.Supp.2d 1150, 1162, 1164-66 (N.D. Ill. 2013).

In January 2014, pursuant to Local Rule 56.2, the Board and AUSL each filed and served a separate "Notice to Pro Se Litigant Opposing Motion for Summary Judgment" to inform Plaintiff of his obligation to comply with Local Rule 56.1. See Local Rule 56.2. Plaintiff, however, has failed to so comply. His response to Defendants' motion for summary judgment fails to address the numbered paragraphs of Defendants' Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) statements and also fails to reference any materials supporting any facts Plaintiff may dispute. See Pl.'s Resp. Mot. 2-9. Thus, all material facts set forth in Defendants' Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) statements and supported by the record are deemed admitted for purposes of this motion.

Factual Background

Plaintiff Thornell Hunter is African American and was sixty-seven years old at the time this lawsuit was filed.[1] Board's LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 1. Plaintiff was employed by the Board at the Charles S. Deneen Elementary School of Excellence ("Deneen"), where he worked as a security guard and coached basketball, football, and chess. AUSL's LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 6.

As of February 2010, Deneen had been on probation for three consecutive years as a result of its substandard academic performance. Board's LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶¶ 9-10. Under the Illinois School Code, a school on probation that "fail[s] to make adequate progress in correcting deficiencies [is] subject to the following actions by the general superintendent with the approval of the board, after opportunity for a hearing:... (4) Reconstitution of the attendance center and replacement and reassignment by the general superintendent of all employees of the attendance center.... [and] (5.5) Operating an attendance center as a contract turnaround school." 105 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/34-8.3(d).

On February 24, 2010, following a public hearing and a recommendation from an independent hearing officer, the Board approved Deneen for reconstitution. AUSL's LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶¶ 8-10. As part of the reconstitution or "turnaround" process, all Deneen employees, including Plaintiff, were discharged from their positions and replaced with new employees. Id. ¶ 11. In March 2010, the Board and AUSL agreed that AUSL would provide school turnaround services to Deneen. Id. ¶ 12. These turnaround services included assistance with recruitment and selection of the new employees. Id. ¶ 13.

Following the reconstitution and his consequent termination, Plaintiff tried to apply online for reappointment to his former position at Deneen. Board's LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 23. But, because another Deneen employee assisting him with the application told him that the website reported the position as filled, Plaintiff did not submit an application and made no further attempts to apply, despite the availability of other application opportunities. Id.; AUSL's LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶¶ 14-19, 21-22. Plaintiff does not know who was ultimately hired to fill the position he formerly held at Deneen. Board's LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 19.

On November 8, 2010, Plaintiff filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), alleging that his termination by the Board was an act of discrimination based on race and age.[2] Id. ¶ 3; 3d Am. Compl., Ex. D. In December 2010, the EEOC issued Plaintiff a right-to-sue letter. 3d Am. Compl. ¶ 40.

Plaintiff now brings race-based disparate treatment claims against the Board and AUSL under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. § 1981, and 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that his discharge from Deneen and Defendants' failure to subsequently rehire him were discriminatory. Id. ¶¶ 94, 108, 140, 147, 173, 196. He similarly alleges age-based disparate treatment under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq. ("ADEA"). Id. ¶¶ 157, 182. Additionally, Plaintiff brings a disparate impact claim against the Board under Title VII, alleging that the process of ...


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