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JOYNER v. SCHOOL DISTRICT OF PHILADELPHIA

April 13, 2004.

PATRICKA JOYNER, Plaintiff
v.
SCHOOL DISTRICT OF PHILADELPHIA et al., Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: CYNTHIA RUFE, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

This case comes before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' Motion is granted in part and denied in part.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

  The following facts are taken from the Amended Complaint and accepted as true for the Court's consideration of Defendants' Motion. Plaintiff was a long-term substitute teacher at Kensington High School ("Kensington"), which is a component of Defendant School District of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania ("School District"). Additional defendants are the School Reform Commission ("Commission"), a division of the School District; Thomas Hanna, Principal of Kensington; and Joselyn Santiago, a teacher at Kensington.

  Prior to April 2, 2002, Plaintiff reported SW, a student at Kensington, to school authorities for numerous incidents of behavioral problems and for assaulting another student. Plaintiff alleges that she knew that other members of the Kensington faculty and staff had reported SW as well. Plaintiff alleges that these complaints should have led to SW's suspension and/or other discipline by Kensington and Principal Hanna.

  On April 2, 2002, Plaintiff was conducting a class attended by SW. During this class, SW told Plaintiff that she "was not doing s___t," and that "she did not `have to come to your class,'" and also called Plaintiff a "crazy b__."*fn1 At the conclusion of this class, SW confronted Plaintiff and said, "I am going to kill you b__," while other students remained in the room.*fn2 SW then grabbed Plaintiff's shirt and hair, scratched her, and induced bleeding from her ear and hands. Plaintiff responded by shoving SW and then pulling SW's body toward her and restraining SW's hands until security arrived. Ms. Santiago witnessed the encounter.

  Following the incident, the School District, the Commission and Principal Hanna detained Plaintiff until the end of the school day, at which time they released her. They instructed her to report to the cluster office at Kensington on April 3, 2002, informed her that she had the right to union representation, and instructed her not to speak with any staff or students. Defendants did not report the incident with SW to the police.

  Defendants conducted two hearings related to the incident. At these hearings, Ms. Santiago accused Plaintiff of assaulting SW. Plaintiff alleges that because she had been prohibited from speaking with staff or students, she was unable to present testimony on her own behalf at the hearings. In addition, Defendants did not turn over evidence of Plaintiff's injuries and SW's lack of injuries until after the hearings. Following the hearings, Defendants terminated Plaintiff for "violation of the School Laws of this Commonwealth, intemperance, incompetency, wilful neglect of duties, and other improper conduct. . . ."*fn3 II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

  Plaintiff filed this action in the Court of Common Pleas for Philadelphia County on April 30, 2003. Although Plaintiff did not explicitly specify any federal causes of action in the Complaint, Defendants removed this case on May 22, 2003. In their Notice of Removal, Defendants claimed that the Complaint's repeated allegations of a "hostile work environment" and "harassment" implicated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., and allegations of "failure to train" and "deliberate indifference" implicated 42 U.S.C. § 1983. As a result, asserted Defendants, federal jurisdiction existed under 28 U.S.C. § 1331.

  After a conference with counsel, at which the Court inquired as to whether Plaintiff had intended to assert federal claims, the Court granted Plaintiff leave to amend her Complaint to more clearly articulate her claims. On December 17, 2003, Plaintiff filed her Amended Complaint, asserting thirteen causes of action: (1) violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. ("Title VII"); (2) violation of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. 18 U.S.C. § 1514;(3) 42 U.S.C. § 1983; (4) wrongful discharge; (5) defamation; (6) malicious prosecution; (7) interference with contractual relations; (8) breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing; (9) negligent hiring, training and retention of unfit supervisor; (10) breach of contract; (11) intentional infliction of emotional distress; (12) negligent infliction of emotional distress; and (13) false imprisonment. On January 15, 2004 Defendants filed the instant Motion to Dismiss the Amended Complaint for failure to state a claim.

 III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

  When evaluating a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, the Court must "accept all well pleaded factual allegations as true and draw all reasonable inferences from such allegations in favor of the complainant."*fn4 The court should not grant a motion to dismiss "unless it is certain that no relief could be granted under any set of facts which could be proved."*fn5

 IV. DISCUSSION*fn6

  A. ...


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