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Herrington v. Crestwood School Dist.

March 17, 2006

ELLYN HERRINGTON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CRESTWOOD SCHOOL DISTRICT AND THEODORE GEFFERT, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: A. Richard Caputo United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM

Presently before the Court is Defendant's Motion For Summary Judgment (Doc. 13). For the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant Defendant's motion in part and deny it in part. The Court has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and 28 U.S.C. § 1367.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, Ellyn Herrington, was born on July 10, 1960, and turned forty (40) years old on July 10, 2000. (Doc. 19, Ex. D, at 148.) Plaintiff applied for, but was not hired into, a full-time teaching position for the Crestwood School District in 1996. (Doc. 2, ¶ 10.) Plaintiff submitted evidence that she possessed the minimum qualifications for a full-time teaching position; having obtained a Bachelor's Degree from College Misericordia of Dallas, Pennsylvania in 1996, and having received a teaching certificate in Elementary Education. (Doc. 16, Ex. F.) In 1998, Plaintiff was added to the Professional Substitutes list for the Crestwood School District. (Doc. 19, Ex. D at 56, 61.)

Plaintiff again applied for a full-time teaching position with Crestwood School District in 2002. (Doc. 2, ¶ 10.) Plaintiff interviewed with Paul Noss, Fairview Elementary Principal, and Mark Atherton, Middle School Principal, on June 5, 2002. (Doc. 16, Ex. L; Doc. 22, Ex. D.) Paul Noss circled "Yes" under the "Recommendation to superintendent" portion of Plaintiff's interview sheet. (Doc. 22, Ex. D.) However, on June 7, 2002, Paul Noss and Mark Atherton did not include Plaintiff's name in the letter detailing their recommendations to the Superintendent. (Doc. 16, Ex. M; Doc. 22, Ex. H.) Plaintiff then received a rejection letter which read in part: "This was a difficult task because of the exceptionally qualified people who applied. You are well qualified and I am certain that your experience and skill level will help you to continue to be a success." (Doc. 16, Ex. N; Doc. 22, Ex. A.)

Plaintiff submitted evidence that the majority of teachers who were hired in 2002 were under forty (40) years old. (Doc. 19, Ex. D, at 42; Doc. 16, Ex. G.) Defendants submitted evidence that Shari Andes, who was over forty (40) years old, was hired for full-time teaching position in 2002. (Doc. 16, Ex. G.) Further, Defendants submitted evidence that Sylvia Wenner, who was also over forty (40) years old, had been hired for a full-time teaching position in 2001. Id.

On January 16, 2003, Plaintiff filed a charge with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission ("PHRC"), alleging she was not hired into full-time teaching positions between 1996 and 2002 due to age discrimination. (Doc. 16, Ex. A.)

Plaintiff submitted evidence that she was not selected to be interviewed for a full-time teaching position for the 2003-2004 school year. (Doc. 22, Ex. L.) Further, Plaintiff submitted evidence that Louis Welebob, Principal, and Paul Noss, Fairview Elementary Principal, wrote a letter to Theodore J. Geffert, Superintendent on April 19, 2004, explaining that Mrs. Herrington was not selected to be interviewed for the 2003-2004 school year because:

* She did not interview well in her previous interview.

* She showed no initiative when substituting in the district.

* Concerns from the faculty regarding lack of classroom management.

(Doc. 22, Ex. L.)

Defendants submitted evidence that Rebecca Draszdowski, who was over forty (40) years old, was hired for full-time teaching position in 2003. Defendants further submitted evidence that Adele Kaschenbach, who was over forty (40) years old, was hired for a full-time teaching position in 2003. (Doc. 16, Ex. G.)

Following the filing of her complaint with the PHRC on January 16, 2003, Plaintiff submitted evidence that she was no longer called to substitute teach at the Middle School in the Crestwood School District. (Doc. 19, Ex. D, at 33.)

Plaintiff filed her Complaint with the Court on June 9, 2004. (Doc. 1.) Then, on June 22, 2004, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint. (Doc. 2). On May 2, 2005, Defendants filed the present Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 13). This motion is fully briefed and ripe for disposition.

LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate if "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c). A fact is material if proof of its existence or nonexistence might affect the outcome of the suit under the applicable substantive law. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).

Where there is no material fact in dispute, the moving party need only establish that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Where, however, there is a disputed issue of material fact, summary judgment is appropriate only if the factual dispute is not a genuine one. See id. at 248. An issue of material fact is genuine if "a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Id.

Where there is a material fact in dispute, the moving party has the initial burden of proving that: (1) there is no genuine issue of material fact; and (2) the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See CHARLES ALAN WRIGHT & ARTHURR. MILLER, FEDERALPRACTICE AND PROCEDURE: CIVIL 2D § 2727 (2d ed. 1983). The moving party may present its own evidence or, where the nonmoving party has the burden of proof, simply point out to the Court that "the nonmoving party has failed to make a sufficient showing of an essential element of her case." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986).

All doubts as to the existence of a genuine issue of material fact must be resolved against the moving party, and the entire record must be examined in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. See White v. Westinghouse Elec. Co., 862 F.2d 56, 59 (3d Cir. 1988). Once the moving party has satisfied its initial burden, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to either present affirmative evidence supporting its version of the material facts or to refute the moving party's contention that the facts entitle it to judgment as a matter of law. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 256-257.

The Court need not accept mere conclusory allegations, whether they are made in the complaint or a sworn statement. Lujan v. Nat'l Wildlife Fed'n, 497 U.S. 871, 888 (1990). In deciding a motion for summary judgment, "the judge's function is not himself to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter but to ...


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