Johnson v. Special Sch. Dist. of St. Louis Cnty., Case No. 4:18CV53JCH

CourtUnited States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Missouri)
Docket NumberCase No. 4:18CV53JCH
Decision Date10 May 2018


Case No. 4:18CV53JCH


May 10, 2018


Before the Court are the Motions to Dismiss filed by Defendant Special School District of St. Louis County (SSD) and by Defendant Jennings School District (JSD) (jointly, Defendants). (ECF 13; ECF 15). Also before the Court is Plaintiff's Objection to Defendant's Removal of Plaintiff's Case Filed in Missouri State Court (ECF 19) and Amended Objection to Defendant's Removal of Plaintiff's Case Filed in Missouri State Court (ECF 28). The matters are fully briefed and ready for disposition.


The SSD removed this matter from the Circuit Court of St. Louis County on January 11, 2018, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). On February 9, 2018, Plaintiff filed a document titled "Objection to Defendant's Removal of Plaintiff's Case

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Filed in Missouri State Court." (ECF 19). Subsequently, Plaintiff filed a document titled "Amended Objection to Defendant's Removal of Plaintiff's Case Filed in Missouri State Court." (ECF 28). In these documents, Plaintiff argues that removal was not proper because the JSD did not properly consent to removal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b)(2)(A) in that it failed to notify the Court, in writing, that it consented to removal.

The Notice of Removal stated that, prior to removal, counsel for the SSD notified counsel for the JSD of the SSD's intention to remove the matter and that the JSD did not object to removal. (ECF 1, ¶ 23; ECF 31.1). Although 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b)(2)(A) does require that all defendants who have been served consent to removal, section 1446(b)(2)(A) does not specify that all defendants notify the court in writing of their consent. To the extent that defendants must do so, the JSD filed a Consent to Removal, on April 3, 2018. (ECF 31). As such, the Court finds that the JSD sufficiently consented to removal and that, therefore, removal was proper.1


Under the heading "Introduction," Plaintiff's Complaint states, in a single paragraph the following:

Plaintiff contends that SSD officials discriminated against her by refusing to transfer her, [] because of her race (caucasi[a]n) AND her

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age (over 40) while at the same time transferring others who were younger than her to schools where the level of violence was far less and that the opportunity to flourish as an instructor was much more prevalent. In addition, the SSD did discriminate against her by an unequal and unfair distribution of the workload, not providing appropriate technology to assist the plaintiff in furthering the education of her students, refusing access to printers that actually work, penalizing her for reporting a hot line of abuse by a [JSD] administrator, refusing to provide the basic instructional materials and settings that would be conducive to fostering education. While at the same time providing these requisite items to her African American counter-parts who were younger than her. That the SSD and the [JSD] failed to correct any of the aforementioned after the plaintiff complained to them about discriminatory acts. Further, the plaintiff contends that the Supervisory personnel of the SSD and the JSD retaliated against her for having complained of the discriminatory acts. In addition, the plaintiff contends that the SSD and the JSD retaliated against her for having complained of the discriminatory acts. In addition, the plaintiff contends that the SSD and JSD supervisors did retaliate against her for having reported the wrong doings of some of the aforementioned supervisors. The retaliation consisted of, but was not limited to[:] creating a hostile work environment, causing her to suffer major depression, failed to provide reasonable accommodations, punished her for using medical leave to obtain treatment for medical issues and her rights under the Equal Employment Opportunity Act to obtain legal representation to combat the retaliation by work induced maladies, poor work evaluations and threats of discharge. In addition, the acts of the supervisory personnel sought to inflict emotional distress upon the plaintiff. That not only did supervisors create the hate filled work environment but the higher up supervisors condoned their discriminatory and retaliatory acts making them culpable in the distress of the plaintiff. That the defendants were guilty of despicable acts designed to discriminate in an egregious "Willful and Wanton" manner that they should be appropriately punished by allowing "Punitive Damages" against the defendants.

(ECF 4, ¶ 1).

As relevant, Plaintiff alleges, under the heading "Parties," that: she is a

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Caucasian female who was at least forty years of age and a career speech and language pathologist; at all times relevant, "including [the] present day she has been employed with SSD as a Speech and Language pathologist"; that she is "a mandated reporter under both State and Federal law regarding physical, emotional, and sexual abuse of the minor children under her care"; and that the SSD and the JSD are municipal governmental agencies. (ECF 4, ¶¶ 5-8).

In numbered paragraphs under the heading "Statement of Facts," Plaintiff alleges that: at all times relevant, she worked at the University City Belmar Harvard Elementary School in the University City School District and the Northview Elementary School in the JSD; "at all times relevant [she] was working within the [SSD] wherein they oversee the operations and activities of the individual instructors on a concurrent basis"; Plaintiff's "first level supervisor for the SSD" at the time of the "discrimination" and "retaliation" was "DeAndria Player (female African American)"; Plaintiff's first level supervisors at the SSD at the time of Plaintiff's "Whis[t]leblower reporting" were "DeAndria Player and Constance Johnson"; Plaintiff's "third level supervisor for the SSD at the time of the 'discrimination' [and retaliation] was Don Bohannon"; "DeAndria Player was a protégé of Gina Hastey"; "[w]hen DeAndria Player became [Plaintiff's] supervisor she continued the discriminatory acts as promised by Gina Hastey"; Gina Hastey "engaged in age and racial discrimination from 2010 to present day when she

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placed unfair and unrelenting expectations on [Plaintiff]"; Hastey and her agents retaliated "by refusing to transfer [Plaintiff] out of [the JSD] while granting transfers to others of younger years"; Hastey "retaliate[d] by assessing unfair and unjust Personal Improvement Plan (PIP), unfair and unjust evaluation"; when DeAndria Player, who is an African American female, became Plaintiff's supervisor, she "continued the discriminatory acts as promised by [] Hastey"; in March 2015, DeAndria Player placed Plaintiff on a second PIP and was, among other things, rude, and told Plaintiff to "go teach somewhere closer to her home"; subsequently, Player retaliated by "having [] SSD send [] [P]laintiff a '30 day letter' threatening termination"; Player fabricated "a story about [] [P]laintiff not inviting a parent to a scheduled Individualized Education Plan (IEP)"; Player retaliated against Plaintiff because Plaintiff filed complaints against her with [the] Union and Human Resources director Don Bohannon; Player retaliated against Plaintiff by "reprimanding [her] for not signing in and out for attendance purposes," although "the black teachers did not have to sign in and out"; and, in May 2015, Plaintiff reported an alleged violation of the "Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education rules and regulations regarding IEP meetings" to "Don Bohannon along with all other retaliatory actions on the part of DeAndria Player and other District and building personnel." (ECF 4, ¶¶ 11-36).

Further, under the heading "Statement of Facts," Plaintiff alleges that: in

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August 2015, Plaintiff filed a "Hot Line report" against her building principal, Dr. Hicks Prophet, regarding "a very challenged IEP student"; during the meeting regarding the Hot Line report, Assistant Principal Dr. Gyton, stated that "'we don't need a circus around here with spectators,' as if [] [P]laintiff was part of a 'Circus with spectators'"; after this meeting, "Constance Johnson2 called DeAndria Player and DeAndria [told] Ms. Johnson to tell [] [P]laintiff to go home"; Plaintiff called her Union representative to report what happened; after the August 2015 meeting, the retaliation against Plaintiff "really started" and Constance Johnson "started constantly giving memos as to things [Plaintiff] was not supposedly doing correctly"; Dr. Hicks Prophet, then "began giving [Plaintiff] dirty glaring looks" and began to "ostracize" her; then Player and Jody Haye, a supervisor in the Special Non-Public Access Program (SNAP), retaliated by removing Plaintiff from participating in SNAP, which had an effect on Plaintiff's "annual income and her lifetime monthly retirement amount"; Player and "others" constantly harassed Plaintiff, by among other things, preventing her from attending workshops, unequally distributing the workload, and doing "anything that might place [] [P]laintiff into a position of violating school or district policy"; in January 2016, Player came to Plaintiff, "challenge[d] [her] obligation to do SNAP after school even though" it had been approved and threatened Plaintiff "with the past,"

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including Plaintiff's having previously received a "30 Day Letter"; when Player came to Plaintiff in January 2016, she told Plaintiff that she was "back as her supervisor" and that Plaintiff would "no longer be doing SNAP"; "[l]ater, Jody Haye, Gina Hastey's friend contact[ed] [Plaintiff] and want[ed] [her] to leave her present assignment and go" to a different school district "but later withd[rew] the offer due to []Andria Player's interference and refusal to allow [] [P]laintiff to take part in SNAP"; on August 28, 2017,...

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