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FLUCKER v. FOX CHAPEL AREA SCH. DIST.

December 18, 1978

Jane J. FLUCKER, Plaintiff,
v.
FOX CHAPEL AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: DUMBAULD

Plaintiff, a female teacher of English, brought this action against defendant school district, alleging violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 78 Stat. 253, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e Et seq., by reason of the fact that a male was selected to fill a vacancy at O'Hara junior high school and plaintiff was not.

42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1) provides that it shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer "to fail or refuse to hire . . . or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to . . . employment, because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex, *fn1" or national origin."

 Thus to prevail in this action plaintiff must establish discrimination because of sex rather than mere shortcomings with respect to accepted academic practice. For example, plaintiff complained that she had not been interviewed along with twenty-four other applicants by the three administrators who made the selection; but they saw no need to interview her when they knew her because of her work as substitute teacher in the school system and they had prior reports evaluating her performance. Different treatment in this respect would not constitute sex discrimination. See Alexander v. Northern Arizona Council of Governments, 447 F. Supp. 1364, 1365-66 (D.Ariz.1977). Similarly, the mere fact that plaintiff might in fact be better qualified than the successful applicant would not Per se constitute sex discrimination *fn2" (though it might be evidence of such discrimination if corroborated by convincing proof that the real reason for the selection of the successful applicant was his sex). *fn3"

 We begin our consideration of the case with the observation *fn4" that it is not the function of federal courts to serve as administrators of the educational system. Lovelace v. Leechburg Area School District, 310 F. Supp. 579, 580 (W.D.Pa.1970). As stated recently by Mr. Justice Stevens in Bishop v. Wood, 426 U.S. 341, 349-50, 96 S. Ct. 2074, 2080, 48 L. Ed. 2d 684 (1976), "The federal court is not the appropriate forum in which to review the multitude of personnel decisions that are made daily by public agencies. We must accept the harsh fact that numerous individual mistakes are inevitable in the day-to-day administration of our affairs."

 For if this Court were the appointing agency, plaintiff quite probably would have been chosen. As a graduate of Smith College, with over three years' experience in the Princeton, New Jersey high school, with a face out of Botticelli and the charm of Southern speech, how could she possibly lose out in competition with a graduate of West Liberty State College (apparently an obscure institution in West Virginia) who in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, had taught "Mass media, Revolutionary Lit., Myths, & Legends, Journalism" and who wrote in his application:

 
"Any New method of teaching such as:
 
(1) Team Teaching . . .
 
(2) Differential Staffing . . .
 
(3) Flexible Scheduling . . .

 have been around for more than a decade, and deserve wider application in humanizing the classroom" ? (DX-2).

 Another pertinent preliminary comment is that no pattern of anti-feminism in the defendant school district appears A priori to exist, when it is noted that prior to the vacancy which plaintiff wished to fill the ratio of female to male teachers in O'Hara junior high school was 6-0. (DX-13A).

 We proceed, therefore, to consideration of what the record shows to have occurred when Healey was selected to fill a vacancy in the O'Hara English department and plaintiff was not.

 In the summer of 1973 a vacancy in O'Hara Junior High was created by the transfer of Mrs. Paula Fantaski to the Senior High School. A vacancy occurred in Dorseyville Junior High by reason of a teacher's leave of absence for a year, with little likelihood of his return at the end of his leave. To fill these two vacancies, Dr. Jack Roush, then Secondary Education advisor, in the ordinary ...


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