894 F.2d 257 (7th Cir. 1990), 89-1730, Kuemmerlein v. Board of Educ. of Madison Metropolitan School Dist.

Docket Nº:89-1730, 89-1731.
Citation:894 F.2d 257
Party Name:Jon KUEMMERLEIN and Mary Kuemmerlein, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. BOARD OF EDUCATION OF the MADISON METROPOLITAN SCHOOL DISTRICT, Donald A. Hafeman, Superintendent, Madison Metropolitan School District and E. James Travis, Superintendent, Madison Metropolitan School District, as successor in office to Donald A. Hafeman, Defendants-Appellees. David JO
Case Date:January 30, 1990
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
 
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Page 257

894 F.2d 257 (7th Cir. 1990)

Jon KUEMMERLEIN and Mary Kuemmerlein, Plaintiffs-Appellants,

v.

BOARD OF EDUCATION OF the MADISON METROPOLITAN SCHOOL

DISTRICT, Donald A. Hafeman, Superintendent, Madison

Metropolitan School District and E. James Travis,

Superintendent, Madison Metropolitan School District, as

successor in office to Donald A. Hafeman, Defendants-Appellees.

David JOHNSON, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

BOARD OF EDUCATION OF the MADISON METROPOLITAN SCHOOL

DISTRICT, Donald A. Hafeman, Superintendent, Madison

Metropolitan School District and E. James Travis,

Superintendent, Madison Metropolitan School District, as

successor in office to Donald A. Hafeman, Defendants-Appellees.

Nos. 89-1730, 89-1731.

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

January 30, 1990

Argued Oct. 25, 1989.

Page 258

Keith R. Clifford, David D. Relles (argued), Clifford & Relles, Madison, Wis., for plaintiffs-appellants.

Clarence L. Sherrod (argued), Madison, Wis., for defendants-appellees.

Before WOOD, Jr. and POSNER, Circuit Judges, and ESCHBACH, Senior Circuit Judge.

HARLINGTON WOOD, Jr., Circuit Judge.

These two consolidated appeals, decided together by the trial court, present very similar facts and identical legal issues. Both plaintiffs have filed reverse discrimination claims under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983 alleging the defendants unconstitutionally used race as a determinative factor in decisions about teacher layoffs. On the defendants' motions for summary judgment, the district court held that the plaintiffs' claims were time barred by the statute of limitations. For the reasons stated below, we affirm.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

At the time of their layoffs, plaintiffs Jon Kuemmerlein 1 and David Johnson had been school teachers employed by the Madison Metropolitan School District ("MMSD") 2 since the early 1970s. On January 18, 1982, the board of directors for MMSD voted a reduction in staff equal to 117.3 full-time positions. Pursuant to established procedures, MMSD notified the plaintiffs on March 2, 1982, that they would be among those laid off at the end of the school year. On August 23, 1982, MMSD began classes without the employment of either plaintiff. Although in subsequent years both plaintiffs were recalled to work, it is beyond dispute that they suffered economic harm as a result of their layoffs. Plaintiffs filed the present suit on May 11, 1988.

The plaintiffs were laid off based on criteria set forth in their collective bargaining agreement. That contract allowed senior teachers who were laid off to bump less senior teachers who were not laid off. To accommodate an affirmative action program, however, MMSD could exclude twenty percent of the positions subject to layoff from the bumping procedures. Pursuant to this ability to protect affirmative action positions, MMSD retained less senior minority teachers for each of the plaintiffs' positions. In light of Wygant v. Jackson Board of Education, 476 U.S. 267, 106 S.Ct. 1842, 90 L.Ed.2d 260 (1986), the constitutionality of this practice might be questioned.

Despite receiving notices of layoff on March 2, 1982, the plaintiffs may still have held out hope that they would not be out of work when the new school year started on August 23, 1982. In the five previous years, MMSD had recalled, within a month and a half of the beginning of the school year, an average of fifty-one percent of the teachers who received layoff notices. In one year, MMSD even hired back all twelve

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teachers who had earlier been placed on layoff status. By October 4, 1982, the year of the plaintiffs' layoffs, MMSD eventually recalled fifty-six percent of the laid-off teachers.

Reaffirming its previous decisions, the district court held that the applicable statute of limitations was six years. The plaintiffs' claims, however, were still found to be time barred. The district court ruled that the plaintiffs' claims began to accrue on March 2, 1982, the date they received layoff notices. Because the plaintiffs filed suit on May 11, 1988, the statute of limitations barred their claims, and summary...

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