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Nirza M. Garcia v. Mariana Bracetti Academy Charter School

March 6, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Joyner, C.J.


Before this Court are Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 18), Plaintiff's Response in opposition thereto (Doc. No. 19 and 21), *fn1 and Defendant's Reply (Doc. No. 20). For the reasons set forth in this Memorandum, the Court grants the Motion for Summary Judgment and dismisses, with prejudice, Defendant Mariana Bracetti Academy Charter School.


Plaintiff Nirza M. Garcia ("Plaintiff") worked as a Spanish teacher at Mariana Bracetti Academy Charter School ("Defendant") during the 2005-2006 academic year. Defendant hired Ms. Garcia on a "non-compliance plan" that required that she pass the Spanish II Praxis exam and pursue Pennsylvania certification during her year-long tenure. By its own terms, Plaintiff's employment agreement expired on June 30, 2006. Although Ms. Garcia was not "highly qualified" pursuant to No Child Left Behind, Defendant hired her because she was a native Spanish speaker, had substantial teaching experience, and, being from Puerto Rico, shared a common cultural background with many of the students.

As a teacher, Ms. Garcia was under the direct supervision and control of Mr. Richard Roshong, the school's principal. The parties dispute how well Plaintiff performed as a teacher and the extent to which she complied with the job requirements. However, all agree that Defendant decided not to offer Plaintiff a new employment agreement for the 2006-2007 academic year. While Mr. Roshong had input, Ms. Angela Villani, the school's Chief Executive Officer, made the ultimate decision not to renew Ms. Garcia's contract. Plaintiff worked until the end of June 2006 and Defendant paid her for the entire term of her employment.

Plaintiff brought this action alleging that she was not offered a new contract because of discrimination based on her race and national origin in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §2000e, et seq . ("Title VII"), as well as in retaliation for her opposition to Defendant's discriminatory treatment of Puerto Rican individuals, in violation of 42 U.S.C.§ 2000e(3a). *fn2


Summary judgment is proper "if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). An issue is genuine only if there is a sufficient evidentiary basis on which a reasonable jury could find for the non-moving party, and a factual dispute is material only if it might affect the outcome of the suit under governing law. Kaucher v. Cnty. of Bucks , 455 F.3d 418, 423 (3d Cir. 2006) (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. , 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). In conducting our review, we view the record in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all reasonable inferences in that party's favor. Bowers v. Nat'l Collegiate Athletic Ass'n, 475 F.3d 524, 535 (3d Cir. 2007); Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). However, the non-moving party cannot rely on "bare assertions, conclusory allegations or suspicions to show the existence of a genuine issue." Podobnik v. U.S. Postal Serv., 409 F. 3d 584, 594 (3d Cir. 2005). When the non-moving party is the plaintiff, she must "make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of [every] element essential to [her] case and on which [she] will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).



To sustain a claim under Title VII, Plaintiff must establish that she "(1) is a member of a protected class; (2) was qualified for [the] position; (3) suffered an adverse employment action; and (4) suffered the adverse action under circumstances that give rise to an inference of discrimination." Brown v. Boeing Co., 468 F. Supp. 2d 729, 734 (E.D. Pa. 2007). Defendants dispute each of these elements except the first. As a native of Puerto Rico, Ms. Garcia is a member of a protected class under Title VII.

Qualified for Position

Plaintiff admits that she failed to satisfy the compliance plan outlining necessary steps toward state certification, and thus has failed to meet the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) qualifications for teachers. See Def. Mot. Ex. 3, at 101-103, 105. This is one of Defendant's proffered reasons for not extending her employment tenure. Yet, Defendant does not explicitly argue that Plaintiff's lack of qualifications defeat her prima facie case; Defendant simply notes that Plaintiff is not qualified for the position in a passing footnote. Def. Mot. at 16 n.3. While Plaintiff did not meet the NCLB qualifications for teachers, we cannot assess based on the record before us whether she ...

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