The opinion of the court was delivered by: PARKER
BARRINGTON D. PARKER, JR., U.S.D.J.,
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
John Federico brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Board of Education of the Public Schools of Tarrytowns ("the Board"), the Board's members, and certain officials of the Sleepy Hollow Middle and High Schools ("Sleepy Hollow"). Federico contends that immediately before and after the termination of his employment as a music teacher, several of the individual defendants made defamatory remarks that deprived him of his liberty without due process of law and violated his First Amendment free speech rights and right to assembly. Federico also asserts that the statements constitute defamation under New York state law, a claim over which this Court has supplemental jurisdiction.
Presently before this Court is defendants' motion for summary judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56. For the reasons stated below, defendants' motion is granted.
In September 1994, John Federico was employed by the public schools of the Tarrytowns School District ("the District") in the Village of North Tarrytown, New York ("the Village") as a first year probationary music teacher. On April 12, 1995, defendant Donald Kusel, the Superintendent of Schools in the Village, notified Federico that at the Board's upcoming meeting he would recommend the termination of Federico's employment. The Board subsequently accepted Kusel's recommendation and, on May 25, 1995, voted not to renew Federico's employment contract for the following school year.
Federico's claims in this action arise out of statements that were made by four of the individual defendants immediately before and after the Board's decision and relate to the reasons for the Board's decision not to renew Federico's employment contract. Those statements, the substance of which defendants do not contest for the purposes of this motion, are as follows.
On April 28, 1995, defendant Carol Conklin, Principal of Sleepy Hollow, in the presence and hearing of approximately sixteen students, stated, "You only see a small piece of the pie. There is a lot about Mr. Federico that you don't know."
On May 26, 1995, defendant Laura Copland, a member of the Board, stated, in the presence of a number of seventh grade students, "If you knew what we know about Mr. Federico, you wouldn't be supporting him, you wouldn't want to be in the same room with him."
Also on May 26, 1995, defendant Theresa Waterbury, Assistant Principal of Sleepy Hollow, in the presence and hearing of student Sandra Texeira, spoke the following words: "Mr. Federico is a liar, he knows all about what he did. . . . Any student caught talking about Mr. Federico will be suspended on the spot." Later that day, Waterbury, in the presence of a student, stated, "Mr. Federico has done something very wrong that the students would not want to know, and if they knew the reason why, they would have fully agreed with the school board decision."
On May 28, 1995, Kusel, in the presence and hearing of Celeste Buzzeo, the parent of a student, stated, "I kept a second file on Federico. . . . The only way he could see it is in a court of law. . . . I wish I could tell you what I know. . . . He absolutely, without a doubt, should not teach here. . . . He could get another teaching position . . . as long as he learns from his mistakes here."
In June 1995, Federico appealed the Board's decision to terminate his probationary employment to the New York State Department of Education. During that appeal, Federico alleged that the remarks made were slanderous and sought a name-clearing hearing. The Commissioner of Education denied both the appeal and hearing request.
In March 1996, Federico commenced an action against the defendants in the New York Supreme Court, Westchester County. The complaint set forth state law claims of defamation, as well as claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for deprivation of constitutional rights under the Fourteenth and First Amendments. On May 10, 1996, defendants, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b), removed the action to this Court, and shortly thereafter moved to dismiss, pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), for failure to state a cause of action. In addressing the merits of the motion, the parties submitted documents and exhibits external to the pleadings. ...