Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Ford v. Ballston Spa Central School District

February 22, 2007

NANCY FORD, PLAINTIFF,
v.
BALLSTON SPA CENTRAL SCHOOL DISTRICT; DR. JOHN R. GRATTO, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS; PATRICIA HEIDELMARK, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HER OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS CHAIR OF THE COMMITTEE ON SPECIAL EDUCATION; CARROL BREWER, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HER OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS THE DIRECTOR OF PUPIL SERVICES, THE BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE BALLSTON SPA CENTRAL SCHOOL DISTRICT; KATHY JARVIS, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HER OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS MEMBER OF THE BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE BALLSTON SPA CENTRAL SCHOOL DISTRICT; KEITH STEWART, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS MEMBER OF THE BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE BALLSTON SPA CENTRAL SCHOOL DISTRICT; EUGENE HICKOK, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS MEMBER OF THE BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE BALLSTON SPA CENTRAL SCHOOL DISTRICT; AND PATRICK LEANZA, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS MEMBER OF THE BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE BALLSTON SPA CENTRAL SCHOOL DISTRICT; DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Norman A. Mordue, Chief U.S. District Judge:

MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff filed her complaint on September 21, 2005. On May 4, 2006, defendants moved (Dkt. No. 25) pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(c) to dismiss certain claims and to consolidate this action with Wall v. Ballston Spa Central School District, et al., 05-CV-1199. Plaintiff has submitted no opposition to the motion. For the reasons set forth below, the motion is granted.

BACKGROUND

Very briefly, plaintiff's complaint alleges that she had been employed by the defendant School District since 1975; that at the times in issue she held the position of Parent Education/Home Based Manager at the Head Start Program which had been administered by defendant Ballston Spa Central School District ("School District") since 1965; that she engaged in certain protected activities such as speaking to the press on issues of public concern and engaging in collective bargaining activity; that in retaliation for plaintiff's engagement in these activities, defendants voted on April 27, 2004, to "relinquish" the Head Start Program grant; that on June 30, 2004, defendants no longer administered the Head Start Program grant; and that as a result plaintiff was no longer employed by the School District.

The complaint sets forth the following causes of action: first, denial of civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983; second, adverse employment action in retaliation for her exercise of the right to free speech; third, adverse employment action in retaliation for her exercise of the right to freedom of association; fourth, conspiracy to retaliate against her for exercising her constitutional rights; fifth, denial of her right to collective bargaining; sixth, unequal treatment with intent to inhibit or punish her exercise of her constitutional rights; seventh, municipal liability under Monell v. Department of Social Servs. of City of New York, 436 U.S. 658 (1978), for depriving plaintiff of her constitutional rights; eighth, that defendants deprived plaintiff of her constitutional rights in accordance with the custom, policy and/or practice of the School District and Board of Education of the Ballston Spa Central School District ("Board of Education") by voting to relinquish the Head Start Program grant; ninth, that defendants deprived plaintiff of her constitutional rights in accordance with the custom, policy and/or practice of the School District and Board of Education by voting to relinquish the Head Start Program grant; tenth, that defendant's actions were done with the purpose of depriving plaintiff of her right of free speech under the New York State Constitution, Art. 1, § 8; eleventh, that defendant's actions were done

with the purpose of depriving plaintiff of her right of free association under the New York State Constitution, Art. 1, § 8; and twelfth, that defendant's actions were done with the purpose of depriving plaintiff of her right to engage in collective bargaining under the New York State Constitution, Art. 1, § 8. Plaintiff seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, monetary relief, and an award of costs and attorney's fees.

INDIVIDUAL BOARD MEMBERS

By Stipulation dated January 24, 2007 (Dkt. No. 32), plaintiff discontinued with prejudice all claims against all individual defendants in their individual capacities. Thus, the claims remaining against Kathy Jarvis, Keith Stewart, Eugene Hickock, and Patrick Leanza, are claims against them in their official capacities as members of the Board of Education. The real party in interest in these official capacity claims is the Board of Education. See Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 165-66 (1985); Pritzker v. City of Hudson, 26 F.Supp.2d 433, 444 (N.D.N.Y. 1998). The official capacity claims against Jarvis, Stewart, Hickock, and Leanza are thus redundant to the claims against the Board of Education, and are dismissed.

NEW YORK CAUSES OF ACTION

Plaintiff's complaint sets forth three causes of action under the New York State Constitution. Specifically, plaintiff claims in her tenth cause of action that defendant's actions were done with the purpose of depriving plaintiff of her right of free speech under the New York State Constitution, Art. 1, § 8; she claims in her eleventh cause of action that defendant's actions were done with the purpose of depriving her of her right of free association under the New York State Constitution, Art. 1, § 8; and she claims in her twelfth cause of action that defendant's actions were done with the purpose of depriving her of her right to engage in collective bargaining under the New York State Constitution, Art. 1, § 8.

Under New York law, no action shall be prosecuted against a school district unless "a written verified claim upon which such action or special proceeding is founded was presented to the governing body of said district or school within three months after the accrual of such claim[.]" N.Y. Educ. Law § 3813(1).*fn1 The accrual of a "claim" under section 3813(1) occurs "when damages have matured and become certain and ascertainable." Matter of Chanecka v. Board of Educ. Broome-Tioga BOCES, 663 N.Y.S.2d 681, 683 (3d Dep't 1997). New York courts hold that "[t]he key to ascertaining a claim's accrual date is to look at the crux of the challenge being asserted." Board of Educ. of Union-Endicott Cent. Sch. Dist. v. New York State, 681 N.Y.S.2d 391, 394 (3d Dep't 1998).

Defendants argue that plaintiff's claim accrued on April 27, 2004, when defendants voted not to apply for the Head Start Program grant for the upcoming year. If defendants are correct, plaintiff's filing of her notice of claim on September 14, 2004, was untimely. If, however, plaintiff's claim accrued on June 30, 2004, the date ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.