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Bailey v. New York City Board of Education

November 19, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dora L. Irizarry, District Judge


Plaintiff James Bailey ("Plaintiff") brings this employment discrimination action against defendants New York City Board of Education ("BOE"), Martin Blum, and John Lee (together, "Defendants") pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et seq., and 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants' decision to bring disciplinary charges against him was impermissibly based on race and that he was constructively discharged from his employment by the BOE.

Defendants now move for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motion for summary judgment is granted.

I. Facts

The following facts are undisputed or, where disputed, construed in a light favorable to Plaintiff.

A. Background

Plaintiff, an African American male, is a retired mathematics teacher formerly employed by the BOE for about thirty-eight years from 1962 until 2001. (Def.'s 56.1 ¶¶ 2, 34; Pl.'s 56.1 ¶¶ 2, 34; Bailey Decl. ¶ 2.) During the 1997-1998 school year, Plaintiff took a sabbatical from the BOE, during which period he enrolled full time at LaGuardia Community College, taking graduate-level mathematics classes. (Def.'s 56.1 ¶ 4; Pl.'s 56.1 ¶ 4.) Plaintiff was still an employee of the BOE during his sabbatical and was, accordingly, paid 70% of his regular salary and full medical benefits. (Def.'s 56.1 ¶ 5; Pl.'s 56.1 ¶ 5.)

On March 23, 1998, Plaintiff was arrested for possession of a .38 caliber pistol and was charged with criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree. (Def.'s 56.1 ¶ 6; Pl.'s 56.1 ¶ 6.) Although section nine of BOE Chancellor's Regulation C-105 provides that all BOE employees must immediately report any arrest to the BOE's Office of Personnel Investigations ("OPI"), Plaintiff did not immediately report his arrest as required. (See Bardavid Decl. Ex. D; Def.'s 56.1 ¶ 8; Pl.'s 56.1 ¶ 8.) On May 1, 1998, Plaintiff pled guilty to misdemeanor possession of a weapon and was sentenced, on July 9, 1998, to thirty days in jail, which he served during his sabbatical year. (Def.'s 56.1 ¶ 9; Bailey Decl. ¶ 6.) Plaintiff did not, at that time, report his conviction to the BOE. (Def.'s 56.1 ¶ 11; Pl.'s 56.1 ¶ 11.)

B. Fingerprint Referral Form

Upon completion of his sabbatical leave, Plaintiff was assigned, in September 1998, to Beach Channel High School as a full-time mathematics teacher. (Def.'s 56.1 ¶ 12; Pl.'s 56.1 ¶ 12.) On or about March 4, 1999, Plaintiff resubmitted fingerprints to the BOE. (See Bardavid Decl. Ex. E.) In connection with the fingerprinting process, Plaintiff filled out a fingerprint referral form. (See Bardavid Decl. Ex. E.) One question on the fingerprint form asked, "Have you ever been convicted of or pled "GUILTY" or pled "NO CONTEST" to any offense in this state or elsewhere? (i.e., Felonies, Misdemeanors and Violations, except minor traffic infractions)." (Bardavid Decl. Ex. E.) In response, Plaintiff checked the "YES" box and listed the 1998 conviction. (See Bardavid Decl. Ex. E.)

The fingerprint search revealed that Plaintiff had also been arrested in 1989 for grand larceny, criminal bribery, and criminal solicitation and that he was convicted upon a plea of guilty to petty larceny and was sentenced to thirty days of jail time. (Def.'s 56.1 ¶¶ 19-20; Pl.'s 56.1 ¶¶ 19-20; Bardavid Decl. Ex. F.) Plaintiff had not listed the 1989 conviction on the fingerprint referral form, allegedly due to his misunderstanding that the questionnaire sought information limited to convictions that occurred in the preceding ten years. (Def.'s 56.1 ¶ 22; Pl.'s 56.1 ¶ 22; Bailey Decl. ¶ 7.)

C. BOE Investigation and Plaintiff's Administrative Assignment

As a result of Plaintiff's prior arrests and convictions, and their untimely reporting, OPI initiated an investigation on October 15, 1999 in order to determine whether charges pursuant to New York Education Law § 3020-a ("§ 3020-a") would be brought, or "preferred," against Plaintiff.*fn1 (Def.'s 56.1 ¶ 23; Bardavid Decl. Ex. F.) In early November 1999, Plaintiff was removed from his teaching assignment. (Bailey Decl. ¶¶ 8-9.) Superintendent John Lee directed Plaintiff to report to Martin Blum, Director of Operations at the Queens High Schools Office, for an administrative assignment. (Stark Decl. Ex. B.) Plaintiff alleges that Blum greeted him upon his arrival at the Queens Superintendent's Office and notified him that § 3020-a charges against him were being considered. (Bailey Decl. ¶ 9.) Blum allegedly stated to Plaintiff, "I am the gatekeeper" and "I make the decisions." (Bailey Decl. ¶ 9.) According to Plaintiff, Blum was referring to his authority and discretion concerning whether § 3020-a charges would be made against Plaintiff. (Bailey Decl. ¶ 9.)

After Plaintiff's alleged discussion with Blum concerning possible § 3020-a charges, Plaintiff reported to the Disciplinary Holding Hall or the so-called "rubber room," where teachers with pending investigations or charges were temporarily assigned. (Bailey Decl. ¶ 10.) Plaintiff states that there were eighteen to twenty individuals assigned to the rubber room while he was there. (Bailey Decl. ¶ 10.) Of these individuals, Plaintiff believes that eight were Caucasian and eleven, including Plaintiff, were either African American or Hispanic. (Bailey Decl. ¶ ...

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