United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
OPINION AND ORDER
Marilyn J. Horan United States District Court Judge.
civil rights employment discrimination action, Plaintiff Lisa
Jones sue Defendants Joseph Pasquerilla and the Bethel Park
School District. Am. Compl. ECF No. 14. Plaintiff asserts two
claims. In Count I, Plaintiff alleges a Fourteenth Amendment
Due Process claim, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against
both Defendants. In Count II, she asserts an Age
Discrimination in Employment Act claim against the Bethel
Park School District. Plaintiff initially filed a Complaint
on June 17, 2019. ECF No. 1. Defendants filed a Partial
Motion to Dismiss on July 19, 2019. ECF No. 12. In response,
Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint, rendering the
Defendants' Partial Motion to Dismiss moot. ECF No. 14.
filed Pending before the Court is the Defendants' Partial
Motion to Dismiss the Amended Complaint Pursuant to Rules
12(b)(6) and 12(b)(7) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. ECF No. 15. For the reasons that follow, the
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss will be denied.
Lisa Jones began working as a long-term substitute teacher
for the Bethel Park School District during the 1999-2000
school year. Am. Compl. ¶ 7. She was hired as a
full-time elementary gifted education for the 2000-2001
school year, working in that position until 2011 when she
began working as a full-time kindergarten teacher.
Id. at ¶¶ 7-9. In 2011, the Bethel Park
School District underwent a reorganization pursuant to 24 Pa.
Cons. Stat. § 11-1124. Id. at ¶ 10.
Pursuant to the reorganization, and unrelated to her
performance, Plaintiff was demoted to part-time professional
employee status. Id. Plaintiff did not contest the
her demotion, Plaintiff alleges that Bethel Park School
District engaged in a variety of methods to fill full-time
positions with less senior teachers for which Plaintiff was
properly certified. Id. at ¶¶ 19, 21. The
Bethel Park School District has, in part, filled full-time
positions without posting the vacancy or advising Plaintiff
of the open position. Id. at ¶ 21. The Bethel
Park School District changed their method of filling
full-time positions for the 2018-2019 school year and began
posting vacancies. Id. at ¶¶ 27-28.
Plaintiff applied for one such position available in the same
building where she worked. Id. at ¶ 29. A
younger, less senior person was appointed to the position
instead of Plaintiff. Id. Plaintiff challenged the
decision, asserting that the Bethel Park School District
violated 24 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 11-1125.1. Id. at
¶ 30. Plaintiff requested a hearing, which was denied.
the Bethel Park School District reverted to a method of
filling full-time positions that, in one fashion or another,
bypassed Plaintiff for certain open full-time positions,
which were filled by persons with less seniority than
Plaintiff. Id. at ¶¶ 31, 33-35. The Bethel
Park School District failed to provide Plaintiff with notice
of the reasons she was not being offered an opportunity to
fill open positions, or an opportunity to be heard.
Id. at ¶ 36. Plaintiff alleges that Joseph
Pasquerilla, the Superintendent of the Bethel Park School
District, designed and effectuated the practice and policy
followed by the Bethel Park School District, with the
intention of denying Plaintiff notice and the opportunity to
be heard on her entitlement to her protected property
interest in a full-time teaching position. Id. at
STANDARD OF REVIEW
accordance with Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a complaint
must contain a “short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). A pleading may be dismissed for failure
to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). To survive such a motion to dismiss,
the short and plain statement of the claim must contain
sufficient factual allegations “to raise a right of
relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atl. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Thus, to state a
claim, the complaint must contain enough factual matter,
taken as true, to show that the claim is plausible.
Id. at 556. Stated differently, a claim is facially
plausible when the pleading contains sufficient facts to draw
a reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
conduct alleged. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009). The Supreme Court clarified that this
plausibility standard should not be conflated with a higher
probability standard. Id.
reviewing court must undertake a three-step analysis to
determine if a complaint will survive a motion to dismiss.
Connelly v. Lane Const. Corp., 809 F.3d 780, 787 (3d
Cir. 2016). First, the court must identify the elements
necessary to state the claim. Id. Second, it must
ignore pure legal conclusions, and it need not accept
“unsupported conclusions and unwarranted
inferences.” Id.; Morrow v. Balaski,
719 F.3d 160, 165 (3d Cir. 2013). Finally, with the
well-pleaded facts remaining, it must “determine
whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to
relief.” Connelly, 809 F.3d at 787 (citing
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 676). The plausibility of the
well-pleaded facts is judged using the court's
“judicial experience and common sense.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.
Partial Motion to Dismiss is solely directed to
Plaintiff's Fourteenth Amendment Due Process claim, Count
I. ECF No. 72. Defendants argue that Count I must be
dismissed because Plaintiff failed to complete the relevant
Collective Bargaining Agreement grievance procedure requiring
arbitration. Defendants also argue that Count I should be
dismissed for failure to join a necessary party under Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 19. Finally, because Plaintiff sues
Mr. Pasquerilla in his individual capacity only,
Defendants' Partial Motion to Dismiss Count I asserted
against Joseph Pasquerilla in his official capacity is moot.
Failure to follow Grievance Procedure
rely on Alvin v. Suzuki, 227 F.3d 107 (3d Cir.
2000), in arguing that Count I should be dismissed. However,
Plaintiff seeks redress for the Bethel Park School
District's failure to provide her with a hearing prior to
appointing other persons to a teaching position. Plaintiff
asserts that she had a constitutionally protected property
interest in a teaching position. The failure to provide a
pre-deprivation hearing in such circumstances, gives rise to
a separate due process claim, regardless of available
post-deprivation procedures. Schmidt v. Creedon, 639
F.3d 587, 597 (3d Cir. 2011). Thus, Plaintiff has properly
stated a Fourteenth Amended Due Process claim in Count I, and
Defendants' Partial Motion to Dismiss is DENIED.