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Thourot v. Monroe Career & Technical Institute

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

March 23, 2018

SHARON M. THOUROT, Plaintiff,
v.
MONROE CAREER & TECHNICAL INSTITUTE, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM

          JOSEPH F. SAPORITO, JR. UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This is a pro se employment discrimination case. The plaintiff, Sharon M. Thourot, has raised sex discrimination and retaliation claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., against her former employer, Monroe Career & Technical Institute (“MCTI”). (Doc. 30).

         MCTI has filed a motion for summary judgment. (Doc. 66). In support, as required by the local civil rules, MCTI has submitted a statement of material facts, accompanied by deposition transcripts and documentary exhibits, and a brief in support. (Doc. 67; Doc. 68; Doc. 69). Thourot has filed a brief in opposition and a response to MCTI's statement of facts, accompanied by deposition transcripts and documentary exhibits. (Doc. 74; Doc. 75). MCTI has filed a reply brief. (Doc. 79).

         The defendant's summary judgment motion is ripe for disposition. For the reasons set forth herein, the defendant's motion will be granted.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The plaintiff was employed at MCTI as an Instructional Assistant from January 2007 until August 2012.[1] MCTI is an extension of Monroe County's four school districts, providing secondary students in those districts with a tuition-free career and technical education. As an Instructional Assistant at MCTI, Thourot was charged with “provid[ing] instructional or other direct support services to students . . . alongside of the educator, who is responsible for educational programming and student progress.”

         MCTI contends that, over time, Thourot experienced personality conflicts with various teachers, making it difficult for her to be paired with them in the classroom; Thourot disputes this contention, suggesting that there was little or no substance to the “global concerns” expressed by these teachers. In addition, Thourot admittedly lost the confidence of the students due to trust and respect issues.

         On January 27, 2012, Thourot was placed on a written Performance Improvement Plan (“PIP”) for the remainder of the 2011-2012 school year. In its entirety, the PIP stated:

During the current school year, it has become increasingly evident that you are having difficulties interacting with peers and students in accordance with your role as an instructional assistant as defined by your job description. Throughout the school year, you have been counseled about this unacceptable behavior and coached on ways to improve by Dr. Rushton and me. During the meeting that took place on January 18, 2012, you expressed an enthusiasm and commitment to improve.
You have been made fully aware of this situation. MCTI administrative team is here to support you, however, it is important that you realize the responsibility to improve is yours alone.
You are being placed on a written improvement plan for the remainder of the 2011-2012 school year and your performance will be closely monitored.
MCTI Performance Improvement Plan
Effective February 8, 2012[, ] through the remainder of 2011-2012 school year for Mrs. Sharon Thorout [sic].
The following improvement goals have been established:
Maintaining effective communication and conducting appropriate interactions with teachers and students are two of the most important attributes of a successful instructional assistant.
When dealing with staff and students, you must exhibit professionalism. You are expected to be calm and in control of yourself in every aspect of your action with others. You need to be proactive and not reactive in nature.
Deficiency Statement: Mrs. Sharon Thorout [sic] needs to consistently demonstrate effective communication between staff and herself and students and herself. Mrs. Thorout [sic] needs to follow through on directives given by her supervisor and director with no exceptions.

         Action Plan and Time Tables:

• Follow teachers' instructions without exception.
• Limit use of the computer during instructional hours to inputting special services log notes into ClassMate. This should account for no more than 20 minutes per session.
o Exception - under direction of the teacher or an administrator you have been given a specific computer related task.
o Computer use will be monitored through the IT Department.
• Maintain direct student contact with all learners, focusing on those with individualized education plans (IEPs).
o Ensure specially designed instruction is followed.
o Take special consideration of individual needs and disabilities by analyzing the student's behavior and determining whether the behavior is manifestation of the disability.
• Redirect students respectfully and ...

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