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Kilduff v. Rochester City Sch. Dist.

United States District Court, W.D. New York

September 16, 2014

ROSEANN KILDUFF, Plaintiff,
v.
ROCHESTER CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT, SUPERINTENDENT JEAN-CLAUDE BRIZARD, Defendants

Page 611

Roseann Kilduff, Plaintiff, Pro se, Rochester, NY.

For Rochester City School District, Superintendent Jean-Claude Brizard, Defendants: Michael E. Davis, LEAD ATTORNEY, Rochester City School District- Department of Law, Rochester, NY.

Page 612

DECISION AND ORDER

ELIZABETH A. WOLFORD, United States District Judge.

INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Roseann Kilduff (" Plaintiff" ) is a former employee of defendant Rochester City School District (the " RCSD" ). Plaintiff alleges two causes of action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 based on her contention that, during the course of her employment, Defendants retaliated against her for exercising her First Amendment right to freedom of speech. Defendants have moved for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motion is granted.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff began working for the RCSD as the coordinator for homeless students in September 2006. (Dkt. 16-4 at ¶ 8; Dkt. 21-1 at ¶ 8). Plaintiff was responsible for operation of the RCSD's homeless program. (Dkt. 16-4 at ¶ 11; Dkt. 21-1 at ¶ 11). Plaintiff's job responsibilities included advocating on behalf of homeless students to " remove barriers to securing in a timely manner a free appropriate public education," providing professional development to school personnel regarding the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. § § 11431 et seq. (" McKinney-Vento" ), and acting as a liaison between homeless students and school agencies. (Dkt. 21-4 at 71).

In January 2009, the RCSD appointed Plaintiff as the " point person" for a district-wide " Title I" audit. (Dkt. 16-4 at ¶ 8; Dkt. 21-1 at ¶ 8). In her role as point person for the Title I audit, Plaintiff communicated with Melanie Faby, the Coordinator for Homeless Education at the New York State Education Department (" NYSED" ). (Dkt. 16-4 at ¶ ¶ 9-10, 13; Dkt. 21-1 at ¶ ¶ 9-10, 13). Plaintiff had no relationship with Ms. Faby prior to the Title I audit. (Dkt. 16-4 at ¶ 24; Dkt. 21-1 at ¶ 14).

The Title I audit resulted in NYSED issuing a monitoring report to the RCSD. (Dkt. 16-4 at ¶ 16; Dkt. 21-1 at ¶ 16). Plaintiff drafted the RCSD's corrective action plan in response to the monitoring report; the corrective action plan addressed issues including expenditure of homeless funds, allocation and return of funds, identification of homeless children, enrollment policy and rights of homeless students, transportation issues, and dispute resolution and appeal. (Dkt. 16-4 at ¶ 17-18; Dkt. 21-1 at ¶ 17-18).

Page 613

Plaintiff claims to have had further communications with Ms. Faby in September 2009. (Dkt. 21-1 at ¶ 19). According to Plaintiff, she provided Ms. Faby with details about the " flaws in the homeless program" and specific homeless students whose rights were allegedly being violated, and further told her that the administration refused to effectively make changes. ( Id. at ¶ 19, 28). Plaintiff also allegedly told Ms. Faby that she was being " targeted" and would not be in her position much longer. ( Id. at ¶ 22). Plaintiff claims that she also shared her concerns with the New York State Technical & Education Assistance Center for Homeless Students (" NYS-TEACHS" ) and an unnamed federal regulatory agency. (Dkt. 22 at ¶ ¶ 37, 44). The evidence indicates that Defendants were aware of Plaintiff's complaints to NYS-TEACHS (Dkt. 21-4 at 59), but there is no evidence in the record that Defendants were aware of the alleged complaints to the unnamed federal regulatory agency.

Plaintiff was granted tenure in September 2009. (Dkt. 16-4 at ¶ 29; Dkt. 21-1 at ¶ 29). Also in September 2009, Plaintiff began reporting to Audrey Cummings. (Dkt. 16-4 at ¶ 30; Dkt. 21-1 at ¶ 30). Plaintiff shared her concerns about the homeless program with Ms. Cummings. (Dkt. 16-4 at ¶ 30; Dkt. 21-1 at ¶ 30). Plaintiff alleges that she had numerous concerns about the manner in which the homeless program was being run, including about missing laptops that had been purchased with McKinney-Vento grant money. (Dkt. ...


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