The opinion of the court was delivered by: Howard G. Munson, Senior District Judge
During the period the events in the instant case took place, Elisabeth
Booker ("Elisabeth") resided with her parents and guardians, plaintiffs
Roger and Mildred Booker, ("the Bookers") in the Baldwinsville, N.Y.
Central School District (the "District"). In the 1998-99 school year,
Elisabeth attended the District's Ray Middle School, and in 1999-00, she
finished the eighth grade at Durgee Junior High School.
The Bookers instituted this lawsuit naming as defendants, the
District, and in their official capacities, Dr. Gilkey, the District's
chief executive officer; Jeanne Race, the District's assistant
superintendent until November 2001; Irving Grey ("Grey"), principal of
Durgee Middle School; Joseph Lazarski ("Lazarski"), principal of Ray
Middle School: and Karen Donahue ("Donahue"), Ray Middle school assistant
principal in 1998-99. The complaint alleges, inter alia, that these
defendants, failed to implement proper disciplinary proceedings against
certain classmates who Elisabeth contends harassed her. The complaint
also alleges that Elisabeth's math teacher, Andrea Frascatore,
("Frascatore") violated Elisabeth's civil rights by assigning her to sit
in a study carrel during class periods because she repeatedly talked in
The relief sought is compensatory and punitive damages, costs and
The complaint asserts that the action arises under 42 U.S.C. § 1981
and § 1983 and 42 U.S.C. § 2000d.
Currently before the court is defendants' motion for summary judgment
dismissing the complaint pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure. Plaintiffs have entered opposition to this motion.
Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permits summary
judgment where the evidence demonstrates that "there is no genuine issue
of any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 2452, 247, 106
S.Ct. 2505, 2509, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). Summary judgment is properly
regarded as an integral part of the Federal Rules as a whole, which are
designed to "secure the just, speedy and inexpensive determination of
every action." Celotex Corp. v. Catreet, 477 U.S. 317, 327, 106 S.Ct.
2548, 2554, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986) (quoting Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 1). In determining whether there is a genuine issue of material
fact a court must resolve all ambiguities and draw inferences against the
moving party. United States v. Diebold, 369 U.S. 654, 655, 82 S.Ct. 993,
994, 8 L.Ed.2d 176 (1962) (per curiam). An issue of credibility is
insufficient to preclude the granting of summary judgment. Neither side
can rely on conclusory allegations or statements in
disputed issue of fact must be supported by evidence that would allow a
"rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party." Mashusita
Electric Industries Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587, 106
S.Ct. 1348, 1356, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986). Unsupported allegations will not
suffice to create a triable issue of fact. Goenga v. March of Dimes Birth
Defects Foundation, 51 F.3d 14, 18 (2d Cir. 1995). Nor will factual
disputes that are irrelevant to the disposition of the suit under
governing law preclude any entry of summary judgment. Anderson, 477 U.S.
at 247, 106 S.Ct. at 2509.
Plaintiffs' claims of wrongdoing:
On May 6, 1999, teacher Donahue was supervising the school lunch period
when Elisabeth and her classmate, Felicia Briggs ("Felicia") approached
her at a fast pace. Elisabeth told the supervisor that Felicia had hit
her in the back with her hand. Felicia claims she had tripped and fell
into Elisabeth while returning her lunch tray. The supervisor took the
two students to her office for further discussion and counseled them on
dispute resolution. After talking with the students, the supervisor
decided that the incident was a misunderstanding, counseled them bot
about dispute resolution and directed them to return to class. While
proceeding to class, they became engaged in an altercation. Supervisor
Donahue investigated the fracas, and took statements from both
Elisabeth, Felicia and witnesses.
Elisabeth acknowledged in her statement that she had started the
altercation. Felicia concurred with this, and stated that the initial
assault was unprovoked. Witnesses' statements also indicate that
Elisabeth was the instigator. Donahue then referred the students to the
principal for disciplinary action. Upon returning home, Elisabeth told her
mother about the incident. She claimed she had some back discomfort from
Felicia falling into her, but said it did not really hurt until she got
home. Her mother decided that she needed medical care and drove Elisabeth
to the University Hospital emergency room where she was examined and
released, but first drove to the school seeking a review of the
incident. Mrs. Booker then reported the incident to the police claiming
that her daughter had been assaulted. The police investigated the matter
but decided not to take any action.
Mrs. Booker wrote several letters to the District about the altercation
and complaining about how it was handled. She claimed that an unprovoked
Felicia had intentionally assaulted Elisabeth, that supervisor Donahue
did not provide her with medical care, that the whole occurrence was
based on race, and that the District had some kind of racial animus
towards Elisabeth because Felicia was not punished.
After the May 6, 1999, clash with Felicia, Elisabeth reported other
instances of alleged racial harassment.
In the autumn of the 1999-00 school year, her science class was
discussing history. During the discussion, she contends that another
student, Trevor Albro ("Albro"), remarked to her about what chores he
would give her if she was his slave. When she reported Albro's remarks to
the teacher, Mr. Seabury, he assigned her to a seat on the opposite side
of the classroom. She also states that she reported the remarks to her
principal Gray. Gray does not recall the matter. Mr. Seabury does not
remember the specific remarks being reported to him, but when ...