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GARRETT v. MAZZA

August 30, 2005.

CLARA GARRETT, Plaintiff,
v.
JAMES MAZZA, individually and as Superintendent of Community School District #3, PATRICIA ROMANDETTO, individually and as Superintendent of Community School District #3, RUDOLPH CREW, as Chancellor of the New York City Public Schools, and NEW YORK CITY BOARD OF EDUCATION, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: BARBARA JONES, District Judge

Opinion and Order

Plaintiff Dr. Clara Garrett ("Garrett") brings this action against Defendants James Mazza ("Mazza"), Patricia Romandetto ("Romandetto"), Rudolph Crew, and the New York City Board of Education ("the Board"), arising out of her removal in July 1997 from her position as principal of a Manhattan public middle school and her subsequent reassignments to different positions in the school system.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

  Garrett timely filed a complaint contesting her removal from office with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission. That agency issued a "Notice of Right to Sue" in September 1997, and in December of that year Garrett filed a complaint properly invoking the jurisdiction of this Court pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(1) and 28 U.S.C. § 1343(4). That original complaint named Community School Board #3 as a defendant, but did not name the New York City Board of Education.

  Garrett alleged violations of: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.; 42 U.S.C. § 1983; 42 U.S.C. § 1985(3); 18 U.S.C. § 241; New York Executive Law 296; and New York City Administrative Code 9-107.

  In an Order dated February 13, 2001, this Court granted summary judgment for various defendants on a number of Plaintiff's original claims. The Court denied summary judgment as to Garrett's Title VII discrimination and retaliation claims as to Community School Board #3, and also denied the motion as to the state law discrimination and retaliation claims as to all defendants. A trial on those claims is now pending.

  On or about June 28, 2004, Plaintiff filed a Third Amended Complaint, substituting the New York City Board of Education for Community School Board #3 and adding two further claims: that by refusing to appropriately assign her, Romandetto violated 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by restricting Plaintiff's right of access to the courts as protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution; and that she was constructively discharged, also in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Before the Court now is a second motion by Defendants for summary judgment on Garrett's claim of constructive discharge. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motion for summary judgment is GRANTED.

  FACTS*fn1

  Garrett was employed by the Board as a principal in Community School District #3 (the "District") from 1979 until July 1997, when then-Deputy Superintendent Mazza removed her from that position. Garrett, who is black, alleges that this removal was, in part, in retaliation for her public criticism of the District's "Choice" plan, and that this and other of the Defendants' subsequent employment actions were in part racially motivated.

  In August 1997 Romandetto, who had by then replaced Mazza as District Superintendent, assigned Garrett to the position of Comprehensive Health Coordinator. In that position she worked at the District office, under the Director of Pupil Personnel Services. Her work area was among the secretaries at the District office, at a computer table that had belonged to one of the secretaries, and she was not given a telephone. Plaintiff's Memorandum of Law in Opposition to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment ("Pl. Memo") at 3. In January 1998 Garrett was moved to another office,*fn2 where "[s]he did the job of a `clerical aide,' collecting immunization forms from principals and school health surveys," id.

  In or about September 1998 Plaintiff was brought up on disciplinary charges, all of which were eventually dismissed. Sometime thereafter, Romandetto assigned Garrett to P.S. 144, where she was told by the principal that her office would be a windowless, unheated supply closet, without a telephone. Id. at 5. When she was removed from that space because of the concerns of the custodial staff over the lack of heat, Garrett was posted to the Board's central headquarters on Livingston Street in Brooklyn. There she was given "a chair next to the coat rack" in a shared office, where she sat "for months and read the New York Times" before she was eventually given what were essentially editorial duties reviewing the grammar of decisions of hearing officers before they were presented to the Chancellor for his signature. Id. at 6 (quoting from the transcript of the first day of Garrett's deposition ("Garrett Dep. I"), at 73).

  In October or November 1999, Romandetto met with Garrett and offered her five different placement options within District #3, all of which would have allowed her to retain her principal's salary but none of which she found acceptable because none were principalships. Plaintiff's Response to Defendants' Local Rule 56.1 Statement ("Pl. Resp.") at ¶ 21.*fn3

  In November 1999, Garrett was assigned as principal of the middle school students at Wadleigh Secondary School ("Wadleigh"). She protested this assignment in writing, Pl. Memo at 8 (citing Exhibit 5 to the Affirmation of Michael Sussman ("Sussman Aff'n"), Letter from Garrett to Romandetto dated November 9, 1999). Garrett alleges that she was made to feel unwelcome by the existing administration at Wadleigh, because she had been foisted upon the school as part of what she saw as an inappropriate plan to divide what had been one school into two sub-units within the same building. Pl. Memo at 9-10. Garrett believes that the school and the community blamed her for the disruption caused by this plan, which she neither instituted nor even supported. Id.

  In March 2000 the community held a public meeting objecting to her placement at Wadleigh. Romandetto then removed Garrett from Wadleigh and assigned her to the position of Director of Pupil Personnel Services, at the same salary, benefits and work schedule of a tenured principal. As one of her duties in this position, Garrett responded to parents' complaints. Garrett claims that she was given only the complaints of black and Latino parents, and ...


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