Brewster v. Board of Educ. of Lynwood Unified School Dist., No. 97-55203

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtO'SCANNLAIN
Citation149 F.3d 971
Parties128 Ed. Law Rep. 50, 14 IER Cases 195, 98 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 5456, 98 Daily Journal D.A.R. 7632 Arthur J. BREWSTER, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. The BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE LYNWOOD UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT, Audrey M. Clarke, as an individual and in her official capacity, Althea L. Jenkins, as an individual and in her official capacity, Gary D. Furuno, as an individual and in his official capacity, Richard Armstrong, as an individual and in his official capacity, Laura M. Byrd, as an individual and in her official capacity, Rachel Chavez, as an individual and in her official capacity, Cynthia Green-Geter, as an individual and in her official capacity, Thelma Calvin-Williams, as an individual and in her official capacity, and Does 1-50, inclusive, Defendants-Appellants.
Decision Date13 July 1998
Docket NumberNo. 97-55203

Page 971

149 F.3d 971
128 Ed. Law Rep. 50, 14 IER Cases 195,
98 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 5456,
98 Daily Journal D.A.R. 7632
Arthur J. BREWSTER, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
The BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE LYNWOOD UNIFIED SCHOOL
DISTRICT, Audrey M. Clarke, as an individual and in her
official capacity, Althea L. Jenkins, as an individual and
in her official capacity, Gary D. Furuno, as an individual
and in his official capacity, Richard Armstrong, as an
individual and in his official capacity, Laura M. Byrd, as
an individual and in her official capacity, Rachel Chavez,
as an individual and in her official capacity, Cynthia
Green-Geter, as an individual and in her official capacity,
Thelma Calvin-Williams, as an individual and in her official
capacity, and Does 1-50, inclusive, Defendants-Appellants.
No. 97-55203.
United States Court of Appeals,
Ninth Circuit.
Argued and Submitted April 7, 1998.
Decided July 13, 1998.

Page 974

Warren S. Kinsler, argued, Aaron V. O'Donnell, on the brief, Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo, Cerritos, California, for the appellants.

James H. Fosbinder, Fosbinder & Fosbinder, Venice, California, for the appellee.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of California; Dean D. Pregerson, District Judge, Presiding. D.C. No. CV-95-05855-DDP.

Before: FARRIS, O'SCANNLAIN, and FERNANDEZ, Circuit Judges.

O'SCANNLAIN, Circuit Judge:

We must decide whether school officials who downgraded and ultimately dismissed a teacher may be held personally liable for allegedly violating First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

I

Arthur Brewster applied for an elementary school teaching position with the Lynwood, California, Unified School District ("the District") in July 1994. In September, the District hired Brewster as a first-year probationary teacher at the Will Rogers Elementary School ("the school"). Less than four months later, however, Brewster received formal notice that his contract with the school would not be renewed. Brewster's § 1983 claims arise out of two separate and unrelated series of events. The first culminated in the reduction of his salary, and the second resulted in the District's decision not to renew his contract following his first year.

A

On his employment application, Brewster listed his prior experience as follows: nine years as a superintendent, one year as a principal, one year as an associate professor at the graduate school level, and six years as a teacher-principal. California law provides that public school teachers "shall be classified on the salary schedule on the basis of uniform allowance for years of training and years of experience." Cal. Educ.Code § 45028. School districts are free to define "experience" for purposes of their salary schedules, provided that they administer their definitions uniformly. See Mayer v. Board of Trustees, 106 Cal.App.3d 476, 165 Cal.Rptr. 655, 662 (1980). The District defines "experience" to include full-time kindergarten-through-twelfth-grade teaching experience, but not administrative or college-level experience. Brewster disputes the District's definition.

Subsequent to his hiring, but prior to his entering into service, Brewster was informed that Althea Jenkins, the Assistant Superintendent for Personnel Services, had reviewed his credentials and placed him at Step 15 of the salary schedule, which equated to a salary of $48,304 plus a $350 stipend for his doctorate degree. Brewster's contract stated that "starting salary is based on verified information at the time of the offer of employment" and that "experience verification will be accepted for sixty (60) days to be retroactive to the starting date." Shortly after he began teaching, Brewster received a memorandum from Jenkins informing him that the District needed the addresses of his former employers so that it could verify the information provided in his application. The

Page 975

parties dispute whether Brewster in fact supplied the requested information.

On December 2, 1994, Jenkins sent to Brewster a memorandum notifying him that only three years of "teaching experience" had been verified by his former employers, and that if additional verification was not received by December 9, the Board of Education would take steps to adjust Brewster's salary. Jenkins sent a second memorandum to Brewster on December 7, alerting him that without the additional verification, his placement on the salary schedule would be corrected to place him at Step 4 instead of Step 15. On December 13, the Board took action to reduce Brewster's salary.

Two days later, Brewster and his union representative, Wiley Jones, met with Jenkins regarding the salary placement issue. Jenkins indicated that she was willing to restore Brewster to his original place in the salary scale if he could demonstrate that other District teachers had previously been given salary-schedule credit for non-teaching, administrative experience. Given the opportunity to present evidence, Brewster informed Jenkins that he believed that another teacher, Rosemary Carrillo, had been given such credit. On January 9, 1995, Jenkins reviewed Brewster's evidence regarding Carrillo and concluded that Carrillo had not, in fact, been awarded salary-schedule credit for administrative experience. Jenkins therefore notified Brewster to confirm that his salary would indeed be reduced.

B

Shortly after beginning teaching at the school, Brewster became involved in the Lynwood Teachers Association as a grievance representative. Brewster informed his principal, Gary Furuno, of his union involvement. Furuno attested that he was pleased that Brewster had decided to become a grievance representative because, prior to becoming principal, he himself had served in a similar capacity in the union. As a grievance representative, Brewster filed several complaints, both on behalf of individual teachers and on behalf of the union in general.

The school officials assert that almost immediately after Brewster began teaching, Furuno recognized that Brewster was experiencing difficulties maintaining classroom discipline. For instance, during the months of September and October of 1994, Brewster referred twenty and nineteen students, respectively, to the principal's office. Furuno also reports that soon after Brewster's arrival at the school, parents and other employees began to express their concerns about Brewster's lack of classroom management. Furuno states that Brewster was "unable to develop a good working relationship with either his students or some of the other teachers with whom he was required to work." According to Furuno, he suspected in early October, and concluded by November, that he had made a mistake in hiring Brewster and that he would recommend Brewster's "nonreelection" (i.e., contract nonrenewal) before the end of the school year.

In late November 1994, in a meeting with Audrey Clarke, the Superintendent of the District, Brewster raised concerns that his daily attendance records were being falsified by the school's attendance clerk in order to increase the school's "Average Daily Attendance" ("ADA"). Brewster reported in his declaration that Clarke "simply stated that changing attendance records was very important because they affect ADA and therefore the amount of federal funding received." Clarke claims that she has no recollection of making such a statement. Shortly after his meeting with Clarke, Brewster confronted Furuno's secretary with what he believed to be an error in the attendance register. He also reported the alleged errors to Furuno, who assured Brewster that he would review the attendance records himself. In examining Brewster's classroom attendance register, however, Furuno found no errors. Furuno's review of the attendance records was confirmed by an independent audit, which revealed no significant errors in the school's attendance accounting procedures.

Furuno conducted a formal observation of Brewster's classroom in mid-December. Although Furuno claimed that the observation "further confirmed the necessity of recommending nonreelection," Brewster reported

Page 976

that Furuno told him that everything was "fine." Brewster never received a written evaluation.

In a letter dated January 23, 1995, Furuno formally notified Brewster of his decision to recommend Brewster's nonreelection to the Board. Furuno made his formal recommendation to the Board later that month. In February, Brewster was notified by Assistant Superintendent Jenkins that he had the right to address the Board regarding his nonreelection if he so desired. At the Board's February 28 meeting, Brewster argued, for the first time, that his proposed nonreelection was in retaliation for protected union activity. A month later, Brewster received a "Notice of Non-Reemployment/Non-Reelection" providing that his employment with the District would be terminated on June 30.

C

Brewster sued Furuno, Jenkins, Clarke, the Board of Education, and its individual members in federal district court. In his complaint, he alleged seven separate causes of action, two of which were premised upon § 1983 and five of which were premised upon state law. The district court dismissed the state claims. The Board and the individual officials moved for summary judgment on the federal claims. The district court granted the motion with respect to Brewster's failure-to-train claim, but denied the motion--and denied the claims of qualified immunity--with regard to the free speech and procedural due process challenges.

The school officials appealed the district court's rejection of their claims of qualified immunity.

II

The threshold question is whether we have jurisdiction to entertain this interlocutory appeal. In Mitchell v. Forsyth, 472 U.S. 511, 105 S.Ct. 2806, 86 L.Ed.2d 411 (1985), the Supreme Court held that a district court's denial of a motion for summary judgment predicated on a claim of qualified immunity is, as a general matter,...

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  • Fed. Home Loan Mortg. Corp. v. SFR Invs. Pool 1, LLC, No. 16-15962
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • June 25, 2018
    ...or property interest, and (2) a denial of adequate procedural protections." Brewster v. Bd. of Educ. of Lynwood Unified Sch. Dist. , 149 F.3d 971, 982 (9th Cir. 1998). Protected property interests derive from "an independent source such as state law—rules or understandings that secure certa......
  • Reno v. Nielson, Civ. No. 19-00418 ACK-WRP
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Hawaii)
    • May 8, 2020
    ...of Nevada Sys. of Higher Educ., 616 F.3d 963, 970 (9th Cir. 2010) (citing Brewster v. Bd. of Educ. of the Lynwood Unified Sch. Dist., 149 F.3d 971, 982 (9th Cir. 1998)). Plaintiff had a property interest in his documents, but he was not deprived of that property interest. PlaintiffPage 32 v......
  • Buckingham v. SECRETARY OF US DEPT. OF AGR., No. 09-15893.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • April 29, 2010
    ...an opportunity to be heard `at a meaningful time and in a meaningful manner.'" Brewster v. Bd. of Educ. of Lynwood Unified Sch. Dist., 149 F.3d 971, 984 (9th Cir.1998) (quoting Armstrong v. Manzo, 380 U.S. 545, 552, 85 S.Ct. 1187, 14 L.Ed.2d 62 (1965)). Nevertheless, procedural due process ......
  • Benjamin v. Washington State Bar Ass'n, No. 66352-1
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • July 22, 1999
    ...for a public official to know in advance when a proposed act would violate an employee's rights. See Brewster v. Board of Educ., 149 F.3d 971, 979-80 (9th Cir.1998); Moran v. Washington, 147 F.3d 839, 847 (9th Cir.1998). But even this reasoning does not automatically defeat such claims on q......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
492 cases
  • Fed. Home Loan Mortg. Corp. v. SFR Invs. Pool 1, LLC, No. 16-15962
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • June 25, 2018
    ...or property interest, and (2) a denial of adequate procedural protections." Brewster v. Bd. of Educ. of Lynwood Unified Sch. Dist. , 149 F.3d 971, 982 (9th Cir. 1998). Protected property interests derive from "an independent source such as state law—rules or understandings that secure certa......
  • Reno v. Nielson, Civ. No. 19-00418 ACK-WRP
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Hawaii)
    • May 8, 2020
    ...of Nevada Sys. of Higher Educ., 616 F.3d 963, 970 (9th Cir. 2010) (citing Brewster v. Bd. of Educ. of the Lynwood Unified Sch. Dist., 149 F.3d 971, 982 (9th Cir. 1998)). Plaintiff had a property interest in his documents, but he was not deprived of that property interest. PlaintiffPage 32 v......
  • Buckingham v. SECRETARY OF US DEPT. OF AGR., No. 09-15893.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • April 29, 2010
    ...an opportunity to be heard `at a meaningful time and in a meaningful manner.'" Brewster v. Bd. of Educ. of Lynwood Unified Sch. Dist., 149 F.3d 971, 984 (9th Cir.1998) (quoting Armstrong v. Manzo, 380 U.S. 545, 552, 85 S.Ct. 1187, 14 L.Ed.2d 62 (1965)). Nevertheless, procedural due process ......
  • Benjamin v. Washington State Bar Ass'n, No. 66352-1
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • July 22, 1999
    ...for a public official to know in advance when a proposed act would violate an employee's rights. See Brewster v. Board of Educ., 149 F.3d 971, 979-80 (9th Cir.1998); Moran v. Washington, 147 F.3d 839, 847 (9th Cir.1998). But even this reasoning does not automatically defeat such claims on q......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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