McDaniel v. Princeton City Sch. Dist. Bd. of Educ., No. C-1-98-772.

CourtU.S. District Court — Southern District of Ohio
Writing for the CourtSpiegel
Citation72 F.Supp.2d 874
PartiesLisa McDANIEL, Plaintiff, v. PRINCETON CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT BOARD OF EDUCATION, et al., Defendants.
Decision Date13 November 1999
Docket NumberNo. C-1-98-772.
72 F.Supp.2d 874
Lisa McDANIEL, Plaintiff,
v.
PRINCETON CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT BOARD OF EDUCATION, et al., Defendants.
No. C-1-98-772.
United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division.
November 13, 1999.

David Gary Latanick, Brenda Redmond, Cloppert Portman Sauter Latanick & Foley, Columbus, OH, for Lisa McDaniel, plaintiff.

Paul Robert Berninger, Amy E Gasser, Wood & Lamping, Cincinnati, OH, for Princeton Board of Education, Dr. Dennis L. Peterson, Superintendent, David D Baker, Superintendent Princeton City School District, defendants.

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ORDER

SPIEGEL, Senior District Judge.


This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff Lisa McDaniel's Motion for Summary Judgment (doc. 10); Defendants Princeton City School District Board of Education and David D. Baker's Response to Plaintiff's Motion (doc. 12); Plaintiff's Reply (doc. 15); Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (doc. 11); Plaintiff's Response to Defendants' Motion (doc. 13); and Defendants' Reply (doc. 14).

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Lisa McDaniel filed this action pursuant to Title 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on October 13, 1998, alleging violations of her right to procedural due process as guaranteed by the United States Constitution, Ohio Rev.Code § 3319.16, and a collective bargaining agreement (doc. 1). Defendants Princeton City School District Board of Education and Assistant Superintendent David D. Baker, who acted to terminate Plaintiff's employment in 1997, assert in defense that they complied with the notice and hearing requirements found in the collective bargaining agreement and that no additional process was due Plaintiff under state or federal law prior to her termination (doc. 9). Plaintiff seeks an order requiring Defendants to reinstate her with full back pay, seniority and benefits as well as an award of the attorneys' fees and costs incurred in bringing this action.

In 1985, Defendant Princeton City School District Board of Education (hereinafter, the "School Board") hired Plaintiff as a special education teacher (doc. 1). While employed as a teacher in the Princeton City School District, Plaintiff was also a member of the Princeton Association of Classroom Teachers (hereinafter, "the Union"). Plaintiff attests that, from 1985 until the 1993-1994 school year, her record as a special education teacher remained "exemplary" (doc. 10, Ex. 1 (hereinafter, "McDaniel Aff.")). However, during the 1993-1994 school year, Plaintiff testified at a hearing before the Ohio State Board of Education (Id.). According to Plaintiff, her testimony was not entirely favorable to the School Board (Id.). Plaintiff alleges that, following this testimony, her relationship with school administrators deteriorated to the point that administrators "subjected [Plaintiff] to unreasonable work rules" and "often unfairly singled [Plaintiff] out for criticism and discipline" (doc. 4; see also doc. 10, McDaniel Aff.).

On March 17, 1997, Plaintiff, who at this time held a continuing teaching contract, received written notice that the School Board was considering a disciplinary action against her (Id.). The notice further stated that, during a pre-disciplinary hearing to be held on or about March 19, 1997, she would have an opportunity to discuss allegations concerning (1) an attendance pattern; (2) failure to remain in the classroom; (3) excessive personal calls on work time; and (4) neglect of duty (doc. 10, McDaniel Aff., Attach. A). Plaintiff attended the hearing and discussed the above issues (doc. 10, McDaniel Aff.). According to Plaintiff, no one presented any evidence related to lack of lesson plans, lack of student behavior plans, or inappropriate discipline of students during the hearing (Id.; see also doc. 10, Ex. 2, McMurray Aff., & Ex. 3, Rudolph Aff.)

Thereafter, in a letter dated April 8, 1997, Defendant Baker notified Plaintiff that he planned to recommend that the School Board terminate her contract based on the following grounds: (1) lack of lesson plans; (2) lack of student behavior plans; (3) inappropriate discipline of students; (4) failure to remain in the classroom; and (5) neglect of duty (Id., McDaniel Aff., Attach. B). The School Board then terminated Plaintiff's continuing teaching contract on April 15, 1997 (doc. 4).

In her Complaint, Plaintiff asserts that she was never given an opportunity to respond to three of the five grounds used in the decision to terminate her contract (doc. 1). Plaintiff argues that this violated the procedural due process rights guaranteed to her by the 1994-1997 collective bargaining agreement between the School

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Board and the Union as well as by Ohio Rev.Code § 3319.16 and the U.S. Constitution. Ohio Rev.Code § 3319.16, for instance, requires that the pre-disciplinary notice contain a "full specification of the grounds" for the proposed discipline. The terms of the collective bargaining agreement provided that no union member could be disciplined or terminated "without good and just cause" (doc. 10, Ex. 3, Attach.A). The agreement also required that the School Board hold a pre-disciplinary hearing and provide notice to the union member of the "purpose" of the hearing (Id.). According to Union President Ellen Rudolph, this notice included notice of the specific charges against the union member (doc. 10, Ex. 3).

In addition, the collective bargaining agreement contained a grievance procedure that culminated in binding arbitration (doc. 10, Ex. 3, Attach.A). The collective bargaining agreement specifically limited Union members to this grievance procedure, stating that "[s]tatutory appeal rights set forth in Chapter 3319, ORC, shall not be applicable to bargaining unit members" (Id. at § 4.025). After her termination, Plaintiff filed a grievance pursuant to the collective bargaining agreement; this grievance was then arbitrated in 1998. On April 14, 1998, Arbitrator Harry Berns of the American Arbitration Association issued an award sustaining Plaintiff's grievance (doc. 10, Ex. 2, Attach.B).

The Arbitrator specifically concluded that the School Board lacked just cause to terminate Plaintiff's employment and that the School Board had acted improperly by terminating Plaintiff based on charges not addressed in her pre-disciplinary hearing (Id.).1 Furthermore, the Arbitrator found that the School District administrators repeatedly and unfairly disciplined and harassed Plaintiff in retaliation for her testimony against the School District at the hearing before the Ohio State Board of Education during the 1993-1994 school year (Id.). In the end, the Arbitrator ordered that Plaintiff be reinstated with full back pay, seniority and benefits (Id.). Nevertheless, to this date, the School Board still refuses to comply with the Arbitrator's decision (doc. 10). The Union filed an Application to Enforce the Arbitrator's Award, which is currently pending in the Hamilton County, Ohio, Court of Common Pleas (Id.).

On September 1, 1999, Plaintiff and Defendants filed cross motions for summary judgment in the action pending before this Court (docs. 10 & 11). Plaintiff argues that she is entitled to judgment in her favor on the issue of whether Defendants violated her constitutional right to procedural due process by failing to give her adequate notice and the opportunity to be heard on the charges that led to her termination (doc. 10). In contrast, Defendants assert that judgment should be entered in their favor because Plaintiff cannot bring a claim pursuant to Ohio Rev.Code § 3319.16 and because Plaintiff received all the process to which she was due pursuant to the terms of the collective bargaining agreement and the U.S. Constitution (doc. 11). These motions are now ripe for the Court's determination.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

The narrow question that we must decide on a motion for summary judgment is whether there exists a "genuine issue as to any material fact and [whether] the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The Supreme Court elaborated upon the appropriate

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standard in deciding a motion for summary judgment as follows:

[T]he plain language of Rule 56(c) mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial.

Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986).

The moving party bears the initial burden of showing the absence of a genuine issue of material fact as to an essential element of the non-movant's case. Id. at 321, 106 S.Ct. 2548; Guarino v. Brookfield Township Trustees, 980 F.2d 399, 405 (6th Cir.1992); Street v. J.C. Bradford & Co., 886 F.2d 1472, 1479 (6th Cir.1989). If the moving party meets this burden, then the non-moving party "must set forth specific facts showing there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); see Guarino, 980 F.2d at 405.

As the Supreme Court stated in Celotex, the non-moving party must "designate" specific facts showing there is a genuine issue for trial. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324, 106 S.Ct. 2548; Guarino, 980 F.2d at 405. Although the burden might not require the non-moving party to "designate" facts by citing page numbers, "`the designated portions of the record must be presented with enough specificity that the district court can readily identify the facts upon which the non-moving party relies.'" Guarino, 980 F.2d at 405 (quoting InterRoyal Corp. v. Sponseller, 889 F.2d 108, 111 (6th Cir. 1989), cert. denied, 494 U.S. 1091, 110 S.Ct. 1839, 108 L.Ed.2d 967 (1990)).

Summary judgment is not appropriate if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). Conclusory allegations, however, are not sufficient to defeat a...

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4 practice notes
  • Holmes v. Town of E. Lyme, Civil No. 3:09cv2088 (JBA).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Connecticut)
    • March 30, 2012
    ...procedural deficiency, stating that they “had only heard one side.” ( Id.) See McDaniel v. Princeton City School District Bd. of Ed., 72 F.Supp.2d 874, 881 (S.D.Ohio 1999), aff'd45 Fed.Appx. 354 (6th Cir.2002) (summary judgment entered for plaintiff where defendant did not provide notice or......
  • Abel v. Auglaize County Highway Dept., No. 3:02 CV 7517.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Ohio
    • August 4, 2003
    ...DeMarco v. Cuyahoga County Dep't of Human Servs., 12 F.Supp.2d 715, 719 (N.D.Ohio 1998). See also McDaniel v. Princeton City Sch. Dist., 72 F.Supp.2d 874, 880-81 (S.D.Ohio 1999), aff'd, 45 Fed.Appx. 354 (6th Cir. 2002) (finding insufficient notice where the reasons for Plaintiff's recommend......
  • Holmes v. Town of East Lyme, Civil No. 3:09cv2088 (JBA)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Connecticut)
    • March 30, 2012
    ...procedural deficiency, stating that they "had only heard one side." (Id.) See McDaniel v. Princeton City School District Bd. of Ed., 72 F.Supp. 2d 874, 881 (S.D. Ohio 1999), affd 45 F. App'x 354 (6th Cir. 2002) (summary judgment entered for plaintiff where defendant did not provide notice o......
  • Rubeor v. Town of Wright, 1:13-CV-612 (LEK/CFH)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of New York
    • August 16, 2017
    ...hedge against erroneous action." Loudermill, 470 U.S. at 543 n.8; see also McDaniel v. Princeton City Sch. Dist. Bd. of Educ., 72 F. Supp. 2d 874, 880 (S.D. Ohio 1999) ("[D]ue process . . . requires that 'such descriptive explanation be afforded as to permit the employee to identify the con......
4 cases
  • Holmes v. Town of E. Lyme, Civil No. 3:09cv2088 (JBA).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Connecticut)
    • March 30, 2012
    ...procedural deficiency, stating that they “had only heard one side.” ( Id.) See McDaniel v. Princeton City School District Bd. of Ed., 72 F.Supp.2d 874, 881 (S.D.Ohio 1999), aff'd45 Fed.Appx. 354 (6th Cir.2002) (summary judgment entered for plaintiff where defendant did not provide notice or......
  • Abel v. Auglaize County Highway Dept., No. 3:02 CV 7517.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Ohio
    • August 4, 2003
    ...DeMarco v. Cuyahoga County Dep't of Human Servs., 12 F.Supp.2d 715, 719 (N.D.Ohio 1998). See also McDaniel v. Princeton City Sch. Dist., 72 F.Supp.2d 874, 880-81 (S.D.Ohio 1999), aff'd, 45 Fed.Appx. 354 (6th Cir. 2002) (finding insufficient notice where the reasons for Plaintiff's recommend......
  • Holmes v. Town of East Lyme, Civil No. 3:09cv2088 (JBA)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Connecticut)
    • March 30, 2012
    ...procedural deficiency, stating that they "had only heard one side." (Id.) See McDaniel v. Princeton City School District Bd. of Ed., 72 F.Supp. 2d 874, 881 (S.D. Ohio 1999), affd 45 F. App'x 354 (6th Cir. 2002) (summary judgment entered for plaintiff where defendant did not provide notice o......
  • Rubeor v. Town of Wright, 1:13-CV-612 (LEK/CFH)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of New York
    • August 16, 2017
    ...hedge against erroneous action." Loudermill, 470 U.S. at 543 n.8; see also McDaniel v. Princeton City Sch. Dist. Bd. of Educ., 72 F. Supp. 2d 874, 880 (S.D. Ohio 1999) ("[D]ue process . . . requires that 'such descriptive explanation be afforded as to permit the employee to identify the con......

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