La Fleur v. Cleveland Board of Education, Civ. A. No. C 71-292

CourtU.S. District Court — Northern District of Ohio
Citation326 F. Supp. 1208
Decision Date12 May 1971
PartiesJo Carol LA FLEUR, Plaintiff, v. CLEVELAND BOARD OF EDUCATION et al., Defendants. Ann Elizabeth NELSON, Plaintiff, v. CLEVELAND BOARD OF EDUCATION et al., Defendants.
Docket NumberC 71-333.,Civ. A. No. C 71-292

326 F. Supp. 1208

Jo Carol LA FLEUR, Plaintiff,
v.
CLEVELAND BOARD OF EDUCATION et al., Defendants.

Ann Elizabeth NELSON, Plaintiff,
v.
CLEVELAND BOARD OF EDUCATION et al., Defendants.

Civ. A. Nos. C 71-292, C 71-333.

United States District Court, N. D. Ohio, E. D.

May 12, 1971.


Charles F. Clarke, Arthur A. Kola, George W. Pring, of Squire, Saunders & Dempsey, Cleveland, Ohio, for defendants.

Carol S. Agin, Lewis Katz, Cleveland, Ohio, for plaintiffs.

Sidney Picker, Jr., Cleveland, Ohio, amicus curiae, brief submitted by the Women's Equity Action League (WEAL).

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

CONNELL, District Judge.

This case has been presented to this Court asking for injunction against the defendant, Cleveland Board of Education, from enforcing a regulation of the Cleveland School Board prohibiting teachers who become pregnant from

326 F. Supp. 1209
teaching their classes past the fourth month of pregnancy

The plaintiffs in the case, Jo Carol La Fleur and Ann Elizabeth Nelson are teachers in the Cleveland public school system. Both teachers are married and pregnant; Mrs. La Fleur is expecting birth of her child sometime from the mid to the end of July of this year, while Mrs. Nelson expects her child on August 26, 1971.

Mrs. Jo Carol La Fleur, C 71-292, is a teacher at Patrick Henry Junior High School and has taught her class from September 1970 until March 12, 1971, when, due to the enforcement of the school board regulation, she was asked to discontinue her duties due to her pregnancy. The plaintiff, La Fleur, taught a seventh grade class composed exclusively of girls who are designated as under-achievers or problem children. This class is called a "project transition" class which is supervised and operated by the Cleveland public schools and partially funded with Federal money. This class is composed exclusively of girls, about twenty-five in number, who are to be given special attention for purposes of making them ready for the eighth grade in school. Mrs. La Fleur did not request the maternity leave, rather the regulation was enforced as to this plaintiff and her maternity leave was involuntary. Presently, in her absence, the class is being taught by a substitute teacher.

The plaintiff, Ann Elizabeth Nelson, C 71-333, is a French teacher at Central Junior High School. She has taught French to seventh, eighth and ninth grade students since September 1970. Mrs. Nelson reported her pregnancy to her principal on January 29, 1971, and applied for maternity leave.

This case came on for hearing on April 19, 1971. The issues being identical in nature, the cases were tried and submitted together and both will be decided in this memorandum and order.

The regulation in question concerns maternity leaves of absence for teachers and is stated on pages 20-21 of the teachers handbook, Joint Ex. 1. The regulation provides that:

"Any married teacher who becomes pregnant and who desires to return to the employ of the Board at a future date may be granted a maternity leave of absence without pay."

The application of this regulation provides that the absence shall be effective not less than five months before the expected date of the normal birth of the child. Further, the regulation states that in application; this leave of absence shall be effective not less than five months before the expected date of the normal birth of the child, and application for such leave to the superintendent at least two weeks before the effective date of the leave of absence.

The plaintiffs contend that this regulation discriminates against the plaintiffs as female employees with respect to their employment and deprives them of their "rights, privileges and immunities secured by the Constitution and laws of the Civil Rights Act of 1871, (42 U.S.C. § 1983)." Plaintiffs pray this Court grant a Declaratory Judgment ruling that the policies and practices of the school board are unlawful, and further the plaintiffs request the granting of a preliminary and permanent injunction enjoining the Cleveland Board of Education from discriminating against the plaintiffs on the "basis of sex with respect to the terms and conditions and privileges of her employment and compensation thereof in deprivation of her rights, privileges and immunities secured by the United States Constitution and laws and the Civil Rights Act of 1871."

The defendants maintain that the regulation is a "valid exercise of the school board's statutory authority to make rules and regulations for its government and the government of its employees and the pupils of the school, pursuant to Ohio Revised Code Section 3313.20." The defendants further contend that "the maternity leave policy violates no constitutional rights of the plaintiff and

326 F. Supp. 1210
is not discriminatory in any sense, let alone a per se discrimination based wholly on sex."

This Court reads the complaint as being brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for an alleged violation of the plaintiffs' guarantee of equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The jurisdiction of this Court is invoked pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1343; giving the district court original jurisdiction to hear cases for redress of deprivations arising under color of State law for alleged violations of privileges or immunities secured by the Constitution of the United States or by any act of Congress providing for the equal rights of citizens.

It is necessary to point out that the plaintiffs have not brought this action pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.

The facts show that the maternity regulation in question was adopted in the early fifties upon the request of Dr. Mark C. Schinnerer, Superintendent of the Cleveland public schools. Prior to this time no maternity leave regulation had been in effect. The rule as it appears today is essentially the same as it was when adopted. The change in the rule now permits the mother to return at the beginning of the semester following the age of three months of the new child rather than the six months as previously provided. Also, the regulation now asks for one month's notice of pregnancy leave prior to the termination of employment rather than two weeks' notice as stated in the regulations as it now appears.

The evidence shows that prior to the rule, the teachers suffered many indignities as a result of pregnancy which consisted of children pointing, giggling, laughing and making snide remarks causing interruption and interference with the classroom program of study. The evidence shows that there were numerous reports of similar incidents which brought about the need for the Board of Education to prevent the continuance of this disruptive situation.

The evidence further shows that there were many instances where teachers refused to voluntarily withdraw from teaching until the birth of the child; and although no child was born in the classroom, a few times it was very close. The evidence shows that in one instance where a teacher's pregnancy was advanced, children in a Cleveland junior high school class were "taking bets on whether the baby would be born in the classroom or in the hall." Dr. Schinnerer testified that the purpose of this rule was to protect the teacher and maintain the continuity of the classroom program; the prevention of disruption in the educational process. When...

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15 practice notes
  • Monell v. Department of Social Services of City of New York, No. 407
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • 8 Marzo 1976
    ...was apparently so far from the central thought that neither the District Court opinion, LaFleur v. Cleveland Board of Education, 326 F.Supp. 1208 (E.D.Ohio 1971), nor the Court of Appeals opinion, 465 F.2d 1184 (6 Cir. 1972), mentions who the et al. defendants were. The District Court opini......
  • Cleveland Board of Education v. Fleur Cohen v. Chesterfield County School Board 8212 777 72 8212 1129, Nos. 72
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • 21 Enero 1974
    ...the constitutionality of the maternity leave rule. The District Court tried the cases together, and rejected the plaintiffs' arguments. 326 F.Supp. 1208. A divided panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed, finding the Cleveland rule in violation of the Equa......
  • Green v. Waterford Board of Education, No. 213
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Second Circuit
    • 29 Enero 1973
    ...v. Cleveland Board of Education, 465 F.2d 1184 (6th Cir. 1972) (2-1 decision) (mandatory leave provision is unconstitutional), rev'g 326 F.Supp. 1208 (N.D.Ohio 1971), petition for cert. filed, 41 U.S.L.W. 3315 (U.S. Nov. 27, 1972) (No. 72-777), with Cohen v. Chesterfield County School Board......
  • Green v. Waterford Board of Education, Civ. No. 14722.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Connecticut)
    • 12 Abril 1972
    ...protection of the laws in violation of the fourteenth amendment. The opposite result was reached in La Fleur v. Cleveland Bd. of Educ., 326 F.Supp. 1208 (N.D.Ohio 1971), where it was held that the requirement that the teacher's leave be taken five months before the normally expected date of......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
15 cases
  • Monell v. Department of Social Services of City of New York, No. 407
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • 8 Marzo 1976
    ...was apparently so far from the central thought that neither the District Court opinion, LaFleur v. Cleveland Board of Education, 326 F.Supp. 1208 (E.D.Ohio 1971), nor the Court of Appeals opinion, 465 F.2d 1184 (6 Cir. 1972), mentions who the et al. defendants were. The District Court opini......
  • Cleveland Board of Education v. Fleur Cohen v. Chesterfield County School Board 8212 777 72 8212 1129, Nos. 72
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • 21 Enero 1974
    ...the constitutionality of the maternity leave rule. The District Court tried the cases together, and rejected the plaintiffs' arguments. 326 F.Supp. 1208. A divided panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed, finding the Cleveland rule in violation of the Equa......
  • Green v. Waterford Board of Education, No. 213
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Second Circuit
    • 29 Enero 1973
    ...v. Cleveland Board of Education, 465 F.2d 1184 (6th Cir. 1972) (2-1 decision) (mandatory leave provision is unconstitutional), rev'g 326 F.Supp. 1208 (N.D.Ohio 1971), petition for cert. filed, 41 U.S.L.W. 3315 (U.S. Nov. 27, 1972) (No. 72-777), with Cohen v. Chesterfield County School Board......
  • Green v. Waterford Board of Education, Civ. No. 14722.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Connecticut)
    • 12 Abril 1972
    ...protection of the laws in violation of the fourteenth amendment. The opposite result was reached in La Fleur v. Cleveland Bd. of Educ., 326 F.Supp. 1208 (N.D.Ohio 1971), where it was held that the requirement that the teacher's leave be taken five months before the normally expected date of......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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