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Trina D. Taylor v. New York City Department of Education

August 2, 2012

TRINA D. TAYLOR, PLAINTIFF,
v.
NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, JOHN QUATTROCCHI, FRANK FARINO, MAUREEN ABERNETHY, DONNA ESTRO, AND GAYLE HOLMES, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John Gleeson, United States District Judge:

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Trina D. Taylor brings this action against her employer, the New York City Department of Education ("DOE"), as well as against the individual supervisors at her school. The DOE and assistant principals Maureen Abernethy, Donna Estro, and Gayle Holmes (collectively, the "City Defendants"), move to dismiss Taylor's complaint on the ground that it fails to state a claim. Frank Farino and John Quattrocchi have each filed separate motions to dismiss the complaint, in which they adopt the City Defendants' arguments in full. For the reasons explained below, the motions are granted, and Taylor's complaint is hereby dismissed. However, Taylor is granted leave of 30 days to amend her complaint to the extent set forth below.

BACKGROUND

A. Factual Allegations

Taylor's complaint sets forth the following factual allegations, which I must accept as true for purposes of deciding these motions. See Harris v. Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 71 (2d Cir. 2009).

Taylor is an African-American teacher employed by DOE. Compl. ¶¶ 1, 10, 26. She currently teaches at school PS 43 MS ("PS 43"), which is located at 160 Beach 29th Street, Far Rockaway, New York. Id. ¶¶ 6, 10, 26. She began her employment with DOE in 1994, when she began teaching kindergarten through sixth grade at PS 150 in Brooklyn. Id. ¶ 11. After spending approximately four years at PS 150, Taylor worked at PS 327, also in Brooklyn, for another seven years, teaching the same grades. Id. ¶ 12. During those combined 11 years of teaching, Taylor had an excellent employee record and never received an unsatisfactory "U" annual rating. Id. ¶ 13. An unsatisfactory "U" rating in two consecutive school terms is a ground for dismissal from employment from DOE. Id. ¶ 22.

Taylor transferred to PS 43 in June 2005, when her family moved to Far Rockaway. Id. ¶ 14. Quattrocchi was the principal at PS 43 when Taylor arrived, and he remained the principal until September 2010. Id. ¶¶ 14-15. Farino, Abernethy, Estro, and Holmes are all assistant principals at PS 43, and have been throughout the duration of Taylor's employment there. Id. ¶¶ 6-9.

Although Taylor has a Masters degree in teaching reading,*fn1 since 2007 she has been assigned to teach Science and Social Studies classes without first being supplied with the appropriate educational tools and preparation materials. Id. ¶ 17. By contrast, the defendants supplied similarly situated Caucasian teachers with the requisite teaching aids without hesitation. Id.

In 2007, Taylor complained to her union that Quattrocchi and Farino imposed unequal terms and conditions of employment on Taylor and other African-American teachers at PS 43, that Quattrocchi and Farino showed preferential treatment to Caucasian teachers at PS 43, and that Taylor had observed Quattrocchi and Farino pressure African-American teachers to leave PS 43 and/or to resign. Id. ¶ 18. Taylor has not alleged that she herself was ever pressured to leave or resign.

On or about May 24, 2007, Quattrocchi placed a negative letter in Taylor's employment file. The letter alleged that Taylor's actions during an incident in class were deemed corporal punishment. Id. ¶ 20.

At the end of the 2007 school year,*fn2 Taylor received her first unsatisfactory "U" annual rating, which Quattrocchi issued based not on his own personal observations of Taylor's work in the classroom but on information supplied to Quattrocchi by Holmes. Id. ¶ 19. At the end of the 2009 school year, Quattrocchi threatened to convert Taylor's satisfactory "S" rating into an unsatisfactory "U" rating unless she attended an optional workshop that summer. Id. ¶

21. At the end of the 2010 school year, Taylor received an unsatisfactory "U" rating. Id. ¶ 24. She has been threatened and warned by defendants to expect another unsatisfactory "U" rating at the end of the 2011 school year. Id. ¶ 24.

In June of 2010, Quattrocchi and/or Farino and/or Abernethy and/or Estro yelled at Taylor and told her that she "just did not fit in as a teacher at PS 43 MS." Id. ¶ 23.

Tired of the "hostile work environment" at PS 43, Taylor sought a teaching position at PS 14 on Staten Island in September 2010. Id. ¶ 25. Although Taylor believed she was a "sure in" for the position, she was denied the position after Quattrocchi said damaging things about her to the principal at PS 14. Id.

Quattrocchi was removed from PS 43 in September 2010,*fn3 but assistant principals Farino and Abernethy continue to harass and disparage Taylor on account of her race. Id. ¶ 26.

Taylor filed a charge with the New York State Division of Human Rights ("SDHR") on August 26, 2010. Id. ¶ 28. She filed a charge with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on September 8, 2010. Id. ¶ 29. On April 27, ...


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