The opinion of the court was delivered by: SPATT
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER
This matter arises from the claims of the plaintiff, Lucille Gruberg ("Gruberg" or "the plaintiff'), under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, as amended, 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq. ("ADEA"), and New York State Executive Law §§ 296 and 297. Presently before the Court is the defendant's motion for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
At the time of the filing of the complaint, Gruberg was a seventy-three year old woman who had been employed by the defendant, the Board of Education of the Sewanhaka Central High School District (the "School District" or "the defendant"), as an English teacher in the Elmont Memorial High School ("High School") for more than twenty years, from September 1972 until June 1994. The plaintiff accurately characterizes her annual evaluations from the time she began her career through 1990 as "more than satisfactory" and often "exemplary." For example, her annual evaluation for the 1988-1989 school year included the following high praise:
Mrs. Lucille Gruberg is an experienced and knowledgeable teacher of English.
. . . Mrs. Gruberg planned lessons that would not only cover the many facets of the English courses of study but would also stretch students' minds. For her English 12 and 12NR students, especially, Mrs. Gruberg continually searched for stimulating materials that would force these students to think about what they wanted out of life and how to respond to the challenges that life offered.
Mrs. Gruberg is a caring teacher who tries to help students to reach their potential. She sets high standards for her classes and is completely in control of her students and her lesson. She respects her students, and they respect her.
Mrs. Gruberg is always willing to try out new ideas and approaches to encourage her students to write with confidence and to write better. . . .
Mrs. Gruberg is a responsible member of the English Department, performing her various duties effectively and conscientiously. This has been an excellent, productive year for Mrs. Gruberg.
(Plaintiff's Ex. B. Memorandum of Law in Opposition to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment)(emphasis added).
In 1989, the year after she received such glowing accolades, there was a change in administration at the school. Diane Scricca became the Principal of Elmont Memorial High School and Robert Walsh became the Chair of the English Department. That same year, the plaintiff's annual evaluations suddenly plummeted. While the previous year's evaluations commended Gruberg's classroom management skills, Walsh's October 1990 evaluation criticized the teacher, suggesting that she needed to me more of "a strong classroom leader, firmly in control of the entire class at all times." (Defendant's Ex. E to Memorandum of Law in Support of Summary Judgment Motion). Walsh's evaluation of the plaintiff stated that "several times when questioning or helping a child, you so focused on that child that the remainder of the class was ignored and they became restless and went off task." He criticized her for such things as momentarily turning her back on the class to provide a tissue for a student, and for taking her eyes off the class when peering into the textbook for information, both of which purportedly lead to "lack of eye contact [which] causes problems." Despite these criticisms, Walsh concluded that Gruberg's lesson was "satisfactory" with the "aim of the lesson being accomplished." The plaintiff alleges that following her evaluation conference with Walsh, he told her that she "really ought to retire" and that "the job is getting to be too much for you and it will only get worse."
According to the plaintiff, things, indeed, got much worse for her. The teacher states that "at that point, Mr. Walsh and Ms. Scricca began to make my life impossible in order to force my retirement. I believe, without any doubt whatsoever, that they wanted me to retire because of my age." (Gruberg Aff., P 11). Her evaluations went from glowing in 1989, the year before she began working for Scricca and Walsh, to "mixed," and finally, to "unsatisfactory." By the plaintiff's account, once Scricca and Walsh came into power, she could not obtain a satisfactory evaluation no matter how hard she tried or whatever she did. "My every move was watched, and every incident the administration thought was improper was documented, no matter how trivial. For example, I was reprimanded for not standing by the door before the bell rang, for allowing my students two minutes at the start of class to settle down, for letting students speak without raising their hands, and for not utilizing the chalk board correctly." (Gruberg Aff., P 13). Her annual performance evaluation for the 1990-1991 school year, while overall satisfactory, noted a "weakness" in her classroom management. The plaintiff alleges ...