The opinion of the court was delivered by: DAVID HURD, District Judge
MEMORANDUM-DECISION and ORDER
The complaint alleges three causes of action: First Amendment
retaliation, due process, and conspiracy to violate plaintiff's
civil rights. Defendants move for summary judgment pursuant to
Fed.R. Civ. P. 56. Plaintiff opposes. Oral argument was heard on
August 27, 2004, in Albany, New York. II. FACTS
The following facts are not in dispute or are viewed most
favorable to the non-moving plaintiff.
Plaintiff Louis Cioffi ("Cioffi" or "plaintiff") was employed
by the defendant Averill Park Central School District
("District") since 1979. He was a part-time social studies
teacher and part time Athletic Director from 1981 to 1999. In
June 1999 he was promoted to a full-time administrative position,
Athletic Director and Director of Physical Education (a tenured
Kevin Earl ("Earl") was hired by the District in 1994. He was a
physical education teacher and head varsity football coach.
The relationship between Cioffi and Earl was acrimonious from
the beginning. Plaintiff continuously complained about how Earl
ran the football program, saying that the program was out of
Defendant Thomas McCreevy ("McCreevy") was a member of the
defendant Averill Park Central School District Board of Education
("School Board") from 1992 to June 30, 2002, and was president
from 1998 to June 2002.
Defendant Dr. Michael Johnson ("Johnson") was Superintendent of
Schools during the relevant times. Due to the tension between
Cioffi and Earl, Johnson took a direct role in mediating
relationships between them beginning in mid-2000. He changed
Earl's teaching assignment from the high school to the middle
school so he would have less contact with plaintiff. He also
directed that plaintiff was to treat Earl fairly.
During the summer of 2000, Cioffi's criticism of Earl became
more public, and newspaper articles and other media coverage
appeared regarding the controversy. Plaintiff, at some point in time, recommended that Earl not be reappointed
head football coach. Earl was, however, reappointed. After Earl's
reassignment to the middle school, there was a public outcry
because he would have less contact with the high school football
players. A High School Climate Committee was formed to help
diffuse the situation.
In the fall of 2000 it came to light that Cioffi lacked the
required Physical Education Certification to hold the position of
Director of Physical Education. Johnson asked him to obtain the
certification, but plaintiff contended that because of lingering
physical effects from an electric shock he received the previous
year, he was unable to do so. Therefore, special arrangements
were made for plaintiff to remain in the full-time administrative
position of Athletic Director by designating another teacher, Rit
Aldi (who had the required Physical Education Certification), as
Director of Physical Education with a $1,600 per year stipend.
In November 2000, Cioffi and other teachers went to the School
Board to complain about Earl. They complained about Earl's
coaching of the football team and accused the football players of
using performance-enhancing substances.
In October 2001, it became known that a hazing incident had
occurred in the high school locker room which involved a junior
varsity football player. Cioffi complained about the way the
incident was handled by the School Board, alleging that there was
a cover-up to protect Earl. On November 7, 2001, plaintiff and
the high school principal sent identical letters to Johnson,
asking for the letters to be forwarded to the School Board. In
the letter the plaintiff essentially disclaimed any personal
responsibility for the hazing (as did the high school principal
in her letter). Johnson and McGreevy were angry when they
received the letters. Earl and all the other football coaches were suspended from
coaching football for the 2002-2003 school year. Earl has not
returned to coaching.
On January 22, 2002, the School Board informally decided to
reorganize some administrative positions in order to save money
despite the fact there was no real fiscal crisis. It was decided
to abolish plaintiff's position as Athletic Director effective
June 2002, and to create a combined Director of Physical
Education/High School Assistant Principal position with a
starting date of July 2002. Because ...