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Frey v. Dudley

July 13, 2008

PATRICIA FREY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
LAURA DUDLEY, THE CITY OF BUFFALO, NY, AND THE BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE CITY OF BUFFALO, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: William M. Skretny United States District Judge

DECISION AND ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

In this civil rights action brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Plaintiff Patricia Frey alleges that Defendants denied her tenure rights in violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. Presently before this Court are the parties' Motions for Summary Judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.*fn1 For the reasons discussed below, Plaintiff's motion is denied and Defendants' motion is granted in part and denied in part.

II. BACKGROUND

A. Facts

On July 8, 1970, the City of Buffalo Board of Education hired Plaintiff as a full-time probationary math teacher, effective September 1, 1970. (Plaintiff's Statement, ¶ 1*fn2 ; Defendants' Statement, p. 2.*fn3 ) Plaintiff successfully completed her probationary period and was awarded tenure as a secondary mathematics teacher (grades seven through twelve) in 1975. (Plaintiff's Statement, ¶ 2; Defendants' Statement, p. 2.)Plaintiff taught mostly secondary math in the Buffalo Public Schools from the date of her hire through the 1997-1998 academic year and consistently received favorable reviews. (Plaintiff's Statement, ¶¶ 4, 5; Defendants' Statement, p. 2.) Plaintiff is certified in New York for Secondary Mathematics (grades 7-12), Elementary Education (nursery, kindergarten, and grades 1-6), and School District Administration. (Plaintiff's Statement, ¶ 3.)

In September 1998, Plaintiff applied for and was hired as a Temporary Project Administrator in the Department of Human Resources within the Buffalo Public School District, which was an administrative position. (Plaintiff's Statement, ¶ 6; Defendants' Statement, p. 2.)Plaintiff was promoted to Supervisor of Instruction and Employment in 2000, and then to Director of Staffing and Retention in 2002. (Plaintiff's Statement, ¶¶ 8, 9; Defendants' Statement, p. 2.) Plaintiff served as Director of Staffing and Retention through the 2002-2003 academic year. (Plaintiff's Statement, ¶ 7.)

In the Spring of 2003, the Buffalo Public School District abolished a number of administrative positions due to a budget crisis, one of which was Plaintiff's position as Director of Staffing and Retention. (Defendants' Statement, p. 2.) Plaintiff's position was terminated effective June 30, 2003. (Plaintiff's Statement, ¶ 10; Defendants' Statement, p. 3.)

After learning that her position was abolished, Plaintiff contacted Debra Sykes, Director of Mathematics for the Buffalo Public School District, regarding any vacancies in the mathematics department for the 2003-2004 academic year. (Plaintiff's Statement, ¶ 11; Defendants' Statement, p. 3.) Plaintiff also advised other Buffalo Public School District officials that she wanted to teach secondary mathematics. (Plaintiff's Statement, ¶ 11.) According to her deposition, Sykes advised Plaintiff that she would likely have a secondary math position for her, but that Plaintiff would have to wait until Sykes had more details about the District's staffing needs. (Defendants' Statement, pp. 3-4; Sykes Dep., Docket 38-6, p. 18.)

In August 2003, Dr. Yvonne Minor-Regan, Principal of Public School 68, telephoned Plaintiff and advised her that a position as a Title I math teacher (corrective math) was available at School 68. (Defendants' Statement, p. 4.) After an interview, Plaintiff was offered and accepted the Title I corrective math position for the 2003-2004 academic year. (Defendants' Statement, p. 4.) Sykes was informed that Plaintiff accepted this position. (Sykes Dep., p. 18.) According to Sykes, all corrective math positions for the 2003-2004 academic year were temporary positions. (Defendants' Statement, p. 4.) Plaintiff worked at School 68 teaching corrective math for the 2003-2004 academic year. (Defendants' Statement, p. 4.) Plaintiff does not have tenure in corrective math.

Plaintiff maintains that Defendants should have offered her a permanent teaching position in secondary math, one of her tenure areas. Sykes testified at her deposition that "[Plaintiff] took the job as a corrective math teacher, so we never got to that point of offering her a job in secondary mathematics." (Sykes Dep., p. 27.) Sykes stated that if Plaintiff had not taken the job at Public School 68, she would have continued to be on the list for secondary math positions. (Sykes Dep., p. 27.) Plaintiff contends that she had the right to be offered a tenure position in secondary math regardless of whether she accepted a position with Public School 68.

On June 30, 2004, Plaintiff retired from the Buffalo Public Schools. (Defendants' Statement, p. 5.) This made her eligible to collect an Early Retirement Incentive pursuant to the collective bargaining agreement between the Buffalo Board of Education and the Buffalo Teachers Federation (the teachers' union). (Defendants' Statement, p. 5.) The Early Retirement Incentive, together with Plaintiff's termination pay, amounted to $47,000. (Defendants' Statement, p. 5.)

After Plaintiff's retirement, Public School 68 converted to the Westminster Charter School. (Defendants' Statement, p. 5.) The Westminster Charter School then hired Plaintiff as its Math Coordinator. (Defendants' Statement, p. 5.) Plaintiff negotiated an individual employment contract that allowed her to collect her ...


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