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Gould v. Omaha Public Schools

United States District Court, D. Nebraska

December 8, 2014

ALICE MAE GOULD, Plaintiff,
v.
OMAHA PUBLIC SCHOOLS, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

RICHARD G. KOPF, Senior District Judge.

Plaintiff Alice Gould ("Plaintiff") filed her Complaint in this matter on September 2, 2014. (Filing No. 1.) Plaintiff has been given leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (Filing No. 5.) The court now conducts an initial review of Plaintiff's claims to determine whether summary dismissal is appropriate under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).

I. SUMMARY OF COMPLAINT

Plaintiff filed her Complaint against Omaha Public Schools ("OPS"). She was an employee of OPS for 37 years. She alleged school officials discriminated against her on the basis of age in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 621-634; and the Nebraska Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("NADEA"), Neb. Rev. Stat. §§ 48-1001-1010. She also alleged school officials discriminated against her on the basis of sex and race in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e-2000e-17; and the Nebraska Fair Employment Practice Act ("NFEPA"), Neb. Rev. Stat. §§ 48-1101-1126.

Plaintiff attached the charge of discrimination she filed with the Nebraska Equal Opportunity Commission ("NEOC") to her Complaint. (Filing No. 1 at CM/ECF p. 10.) In assessing Plaintiff's Complaint, the court will consider the allegations raised in Plaintiff's NEOC charge of discrimination, as well as those raised in the Complaint. See Coleman v. Correct Care Solutions, 559 Fed.App'x. 601, 602 (8th Cir. 2014).

Plaintiff, a black female, was a teacher at OPS. On August 14, 2013, she "was assigned more behavioral students" than two other teachers. Plaintiff was assigned 10 "behavioral students, " while "Faith Johnson (bi-racial, 20's, female) and Ivan Halpin (white, 20's male)" were each assigned one. (Filing No. 1 at CM/ECF p. 10.)

On January 6, 2014, Principal Christina Windsor, a black female in her 50's, "noted that [Plaintiff] fabricated [her] students' reading scores." ( Id. ) Thereafter, Windsor and Lynn Wray, a reading teacher, "tested 4 of [Plaintiff's] students on their reading and questioned them about information on [Plaintiff's] reading record." ( Id. ) Plaintiff alleged no students from other classes were tested "even though Windsor indicated 5 other teachers had issues with their reading assessment records." ( Id. )

On January 13, 2014, Windsor reported Plaintiff to human resources. On March 14, 2014, Plaintiff was notified that her employment would be terminated at the end of the school year. ( Id. at CM/ECF p. 11.) Plaintiff alleged her termination was done in retaliation for a charge of discrimination she filed against OPS in 2013. ( Id.; see previous charge of discrimination at Filing No. 1 at CM/ECF pp. 7-8.)

As relief, Plaintiff seeks declaratory relief as well as money damages for lost pay, benefits, retirement, and other compensatory damages for humiliation and emotional distress. ( Id. at CM/ECF p. 6.) The right-to-sue notice attached to Plaintiff's Complaint reflects that she filed suit in this court within 90 days of her receipt of the right-to-sue notice from the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. See 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(1) (a charging party has 90 days from the receipt of the right-to-sue notice to file a civil complaint based on a charge of discrimination).

II. STANDARDS ON INITIAL REVIEW

The court is required to review in forma pauperis complaints to determine whether summary dismissal is appropriate. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). The court must dismiss a complaint or any portion thereof that states a frivolous or malicious claim, that fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

Pro se plaintiffs must set forth enough factual allegations to "nudge[] their claims across the line from conceivable to plausible, " or "their complaint must be dismissed" for failing to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 569-70 (2007); see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009) ("A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged."). Regardless of whether a plaintiff is represented or is appearing pro se, the plaintiff's complaint must allege specific facts sufficient to state a claim. See Martin v. Sargent, 780 F.2d 1334, 1337 (8th Cir. 1985). However, a pro se plaintiff's allegations must be construed liberally. Burke v. North Dakota Dep't of Corr. & Rehab., 294 F.3d 1043, 1043-44 (8th Cir. 2002) (citations omitted).

III. DISCUSSION OF CLAIMS

Plaintiff has asserted claims for age, race, and sex discrimination. The court has considered Plaintiff's discrimination claims under two potential theories: disparate treatment and retaliation. As discussed below, Plaintiff's ...


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