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Meyers v. Kishimoto

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

November 17, 2016

PAUL F. MEYERS, Plaintiff,
v.
CHRISTINA KISHIMOTO, NATASHA DURANT, JENNIFER ALLEN, KEVIN MCCASKILL, MILLY RAMOS, JANET SERANNO, CITY OF HARTFORD, and JILL CUTLER HODGMAN, Defendants.

          RULING ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          CHARLES S. HAIGHT, JR. SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Paul F. Meyers brings this action against Defendant the City of Hartford and various individuals (collectively, "Individual Defendants").[1] Plaintiff alleges that he was improperly terminated as a physical education teacher at the Simpson Waverly School in Hartford, CT.

         Specifically, Plaintiff asserts 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims against the Individual Defendants in their official and individual capacities based on violations of Plaintiff's Fourteenth Amendment rights (Count One), [2] a state law negligent infliction of emotional distress claim against Defendants (Count Two), a state law intentional infliction of emotional distress claim against Defendants (Count Three), 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims against the City of Hartford based on violations of Plaintiff's Fourteenth Amendment rights (Count Four), a state law claim pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-557n against the City of Hartford based on the negligence of its employees (Count Five), a state law indemnification claim pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. § 7-465 against to the City of Hartford based on the actions of its employees (Count Six), and aiding and abetting state law claims against Defendants (Count Seven). Defendants move for summary judgment as to all of Plaintiff's claims. This Ruling resolves that motion.

         I. Factual Background

         The following facts are derived from the parties' submissions pursuant to D. Conn. Local Rule 56(a) (referred to herein as "Defs. Local Rule 56(a)(1) Statement, " "Pl. Local Rule 56(a)(2) Statement, " and "Pl. Statement of Disputed Facts"); uncontroverted deposition testimony; and the exhibits attached to the parties' respective memoranda of law (respectively, "Defs. Ex." and "Pl. Ex."). Docs. 37, 41, 45, and 48. The facts recounted in this Part are undisputed or indisputable. All reasonable inferences have been drawn in Plaintiff's favor. The relevant period of time is from April 2013 to February 2014.

         Defendants in this action are the City of Hartford, Christina Kishimoto, Kevin McCaskill, Jill Cutler Hodgman, Milly Ramos, Natasha Durrant, Janet Serrano, and Jennifer Allen.[3] Each of the Individual Defendants was employed by the Hartford Board of Education ("HBOE"). Christina Kishimoto was the Superintendent during the relevant period. See Pl. Ex. 10 (Deposition of Defendant McCaskill ("McCaskill Dep.")) at 11:15-17. Kevin McCaskill was the Director of School Design, and for the 2012-13 school year, he was also a Director of Secondary Schools. Id. at 10:13-24. He reported to the Chief Operating Officer of Hartford Public Schools, Dr. Donald Slater, during that period. Id. at 9:9-14. His job was "reform work, " which he described as giving the schools a thematic approach to their curriculum and to their personnel and professional development. Id. at 9:20-10:1.

         Jill Cutler Hodgman was the Chief Labor and Legal Officer for the HBOE during the relevant time period. Pl. Local Rule 56(a)(2) Statement ¶ 39.[4] In that capacity, she was responsible for the termination of employees of the HBOE pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. § 10-151 and the placement of employees on administrative leaves of absences during pending investigations. Id. ¶¶ 40-41. Milly Ramos was a Labor Relations Specialist who reported directly to Defendant Hodgman. Id. ¶ 33. She worked on a regular basis with the Connecticut Department of Children and Families ("DCF"), coordinating investigations with DCF, and investigating employee misconduct for the HBOE. Pl. Ex. 9 (Deposition of Defendant Hodgman ("Hodgman Dep.")) at 31:3-32:9. Natasha Durrant was the Executive Director of Human Resources for the HBOE. Pl. Local Rule 56(a)(2) Statement ¶ 45. Janet Serrano was a Staffing Specialist for the HBOE, but was not the assigned specialist for Plaintiff's school, Simpson Waverly, during the relevant time period. Id. ¶¶ 36-37. Jennifer Allen was the Chief Talent Officer for the Office of Talent Management during the relevant period. See Am. Cmplt. (Doc. 30) ¶ 10; Pl. Ex. 10 (McCaskill Dep.) at 24:2-6.

         Plaintiff was a physical education teacher at Simpson Waverly School in Hartford, CT and had been employed by the Hartford schools since 1998. See Pl. Local Rule 56(a)(2) Statement ¶ 1; Defs. Ex. 1. Plaintiff had a five-year certification from the State of Connecticut to teach Physical Education, Pre-K through Grade 12 that expired on October 24, 2013. Defs. Ex. 2. On April 25, 2013, Plaintiff was involved in an incident with a disruptive student at Simpson Waverly during a physical education class. Pl. Local Rule 56(a)(2) Statement ¶ 4; Pl. Ex. 6 at 2-4. An anonymous complaint was thereafter filed with DCF against Plaintiff. Pl. Local Rule 56(a)(2) Statement ¶ 5. Plaintiff was placed on paid administrative leave during the investigation, effective May 7, 2013. Pl. Local Rule 56(a)(2) Statement ¶ 6; Defs. Ex. 3. Initial efforts to take a required investigatory interview with Plaintiff regarding the incident were unsuccessful. See Defs. Ex. 20. Defendant Ramos sent a letter rescheduling the interview, reiterating that it is was mandatory and stating that failure to attend "may result in disciplinary consequences and unpaid leave." Id.

         After completing the investigation, in or around late August 2013, DCF substantiated a finding of physical abuse and neglect against Plaintiff and placed Plaintiff on DCF's central registry. See Pl. Ex. 5 (Affidavit of Paul F. Meyers ("Meyers Aff.")) ¶¶ 15-17; Pl. Ex. 6 at 1. Shortly thereafter, on September 12, 2013, Plaintiff was informed that termination of his employment was under consideration by letter from Defendant Kishimoto. Pl. Local Rule 56(a)(2) Statement ¶ 12; Defs. Ex. 7. Plaintiff's union counsel followed up with Defendant Kishimoto by letter requesting a statement of reasons for Plaintiff's termination. Pl. Ex. 5 (Meyers Aff.) ¶ 38. After Plaintiff received this statement, Plaintiff's union counsel requested a hearing pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. § 10-151, Connecticut's tenure statute for teachers, by letter on September 20, 2013. Id. at ¶¶ 39-42.

         While the DCF investigation was still pending, on July 9, 2013, Defendant Serrano emailed Plaintiff to inform him that his teaching certificate would expire on October 24, 2013 and that the Connecticut State Department of Education ("CSDE") had indicated that he had not yet submitted the renewal or re-certification paperwork. Pl. Local Rule 56(a)(2) Statement ¶ 7; Defs. Ex. 4. Defendant Serrano warned in this email that "[f]ailure to submit your application and all appropriate documentation in a timely manner will impact your employment status with the district." Defs. Ex. 4 (emphasis in original). Defendant Serrano also informed Plaintiff that if his "application require[d] the signature of the Superintendent or her designee" he could send it to her and she would email him "so that [Plaintiff] can pick it up and deliver to the [C]SDE." Id.

         A CSDE brochure from October 2012 on certification advises that a teacher, such as Plaintiff, "should apply to continue your certificate no earlier than six months and no later than six weeks before the date of expiration of your professional educator certificate." Defs. Ex. 15a at 2.[5]The CSDE emphasized that the "application must be received in our office BY the expiration date" and "[p]ostmarks are NOT considered." Id. (emphasis in original). The CSDE informed applicants to "allow 10-12 business days for mail to reach the [CSDE] office." Id. at 1. The CSDE brochure also detailed the process to continue or renew an expiring certificate, which required a teacher to apply online, or submit by paper (1) an Application Form, ED 179, and (2) if the teacher worked under the prior certificate, a Statement of Professional Experience Form, ED 126, in order to verify successful service as a teacher. Id. at 2. An Application Form, ED 170, could also be submitted instead of an ED 179 if a teacher was unsure of what forms to submit. Id. at 1. Throughout the brochure, the CSDE reiterated that submitting an application (ED 179 or ED 170) prior to the expiration of a certificate would mean that the "certification is considered in process, pending materials and final evaluation, " thus, as long as the application was received prior to the expiration of a teacher's certification, it would be considered timely and additional forms (presumably forms such as the ED 126) could be submitted later. Id. at 1-2. The CSDE noted that the "quickest and easiest" way to apply was online and that a teacher could also check the status of existing applications online. Id. at 2.

         On September 11, 2013, Defendant Serrano informed Plaintiff that his form ED 126 had been completed and was available for pick-up. Pl. Local Rule 56(a)(2) Statement ¶ 11; Defs. Ex. 6. A day later, on September 12, 2013, Victoria Hajdasz, another HBOE employee in the Office of Talent Management, reminded Plaintiff that his certification was going to expire on October 24, 2013 and that he needed to submit his paperwork to the"state dept. of certification." Pl. Local Rule 56(a)(2) Statement ¶ 13; Defs. Ex. 8. On September 25, 2013, Plaintiff responded to Ms. Hajdasz's email asking her about the status of his "paperwork" and stating that he had submitted it "a few weeks ago." Defs. Ex. 8. He emailed Defendant Serrano with a similar message inquiring about an update on his "paperwork" on the same day. Pls. Ex.11 (Deposition of Defendant Serrano ("Serrano Dep.")) at 51:12-24. Defendant Serrano responded to Plaintiff by re-sending her September 11, 2013 email and reiterating that the ED 126 was ready for pick up. Id. at 69:19-25; Defs. Ex. 9.

         On October 25, 2013, Rosemarie Forzano, another Staffing Specialist in the Office of Talent Management, emailed the CSDE explaining that their records "indicate that Mr. Meyers' physical education certification has expired effective 10/24/2013" and asking for an update on the status of his certification application. Defs. Ex. 10. Robert Szczepanski, an Education Consultant with the CSDE, responded, stating that the records "indicate that Mr. Meyer's [sic] professional educator certificate expired on October 24, 2013" and "[a]ccording to the most recent information available, Mr. Meyer's [sic] has NOT submitted an application for renewal." Id. (emphasis in original). He also stated that Plaintiff could apply "without a lapse in certification" if he filed the application that day. Id. That very same day, Defendant Durrant sent a letter to Plaintiff stating that because Plaintiff's certification had expired on October 24, 2013, "Hartford Public Schools is forced to separate your services immediately as a physical education teacher at Simpson Waverly School." Defs. Ex. 11. The CSDE's records reflect that as of November 1, 2013 Plaintiff's certification had expired.[6] Defs. Ex. 10a.

         Subsequent to Plaintiff's termination, on October 29, 2013, Mr. Szczepanski emailed Plaintiff stating that the CSDE had received his ED 126, but that Plaintiff's "certificate expired on October 24, 2013 and an application had not been filed to date." Defs. Ex. 12; Pl. Local Rule 56(a)(2) Statement ¶ 19. Plaintiff responded by sending his ED 126 again to the CSDE on October 30, 2013. Defs. Ex. 13. At that point, it was explained to him that the ED 126 is "NOT an application form" and he must submit an ED 179. Defs. Ex. 13; Pl. Local Rule 56(a)(2) Statement ¶ 20 (emphasis in original). Plaintiff was informed that if he did so that day, his certification would not lapse. Id. Plaintiff filled out the ED 179 and sent it back to Mr. Szczepanski on October 30, 2013. Defs. Ex. 14; Pl. Local Rule 56(a)(2) Statement ¶ 21. Plaintiff's ED 179 Application was marked received by the CSDE on October 31, 2013 and the CSDE acknowledged receipt on October 31, 2013 via an email to Plaintiff. Defs. Exs. 14-15; Pl. Ex. 7; Pl. Local Rule 56(a)(2) Statement ¶ 22.

         At some point after Plaintiff's termination, Plaintiff's union counsel was informed that Plaintiff did not have a right to a due process hearing on his termination. See Pl. Ex. 5 (Meyers Aff.) ¶¶ 75. Plaintiff's union counsel on November 5, 2013, challenged this by letter and attached the CSDE's email dated October 31, 2013, and that agency's prior statement about considering Plaintiff's application not to have lapsed. Id. ¶¶ 75-78. The HBOE never held a hearing on Plaintiff's termination. See Id. ¶¶ 78, 85.

         On November 5, 2013, the CSDE informed Plaintiff that his ED 126, dated September 11, 2013, needed to be updated because it listed his successful service through May 2013 and he was employed subsequent to that date. Defs. Ex. 16. Plaintiff, Defendants McCaskill, and Serrano met in person on November 7, 2013 to discuss Plaintiff's certification. Pl. Ex. 11 (Serrano Dep.) at 98:24-99:17. At this meeting, Plaintiff states that Defendant McCaskill asked Defendant Serrano to "fix this mistake, " referring to Plaintiff's certification and termination, and Defendant Serrano told Defendant McCaskill to "let it go" because it was "coming from above, " to which Defendant McCaskill replied this is "retaliation." Pl. Ex. 5 (Meyers Aff.) ¶¶ 79-81. Plaintiff also submitted an updated ED 126 with the correct successful service dates to Defendant Serrano on November 7, 2013. Pl. Local Rule 56(a)(2) Statement ¶ 24. The CSDE received the updated ED 126 on November 14, 2013. Defs. Ex. 17. Nevertheless, on November 20, 2014, the CSDE denied Plaintiff's application because Plaintiff appeared on DCF's central registry. Defs. Ex. 18. The CSDE stated that in accordance with Conn. Gen. Stat. § 10-221d(g), it is required to deny any application for certification if the person appears on such a registry. See Id. at 3. The denial letter noted Plaintiff's application for certification date as October 31, 2013 (when the ED 179 was received by the CSDE). Defs. Ex. 18 at 1; Pl. Local Rule 56(a)(2) Statement ¶ 27.

         After Plaintiff received the certification denial letter, he requested a review of the decision. Defs. Ex. 19 at 3. Meanwhile, Plaintiff had a two-day hearing in January 2014 on the substantiated finding by DCF of physical abuse and neglect that led to his placement on the central registry. Pl. Ex. 6 at 2. The hearing officer reversed DCF's initial determination and removed Plaintiff from the central registry. Id. at 1. DCF notified the CSDE that effective January 9, 2014 Plaintiff had been removed from the central registry. Defs. Ex. 19 at 3. The CSDE then notified Plaintiff by letter that his certification would be processed on February 8, 2014. Id. The date of Plaintiff's application on this letter from the CSDE, again, was October 31, 2013. Defs. Ex. 19 at 1. On February 8, 2014, the CSDE retroactively reinstated Plaintiff's full certification, without any lapse, for another five years, October 25, 2013 through October 24, 2018. Pl. Local Rule 56(a)(2) Statement ¶ 28; Pl. Ex. 1. There is no evidence that Plaintiff re-applied for his position with the HBOE subsequent to his reinstatement. Pl. Local Rule 56(a)(2) Statement ¶ 29. For the 2015-16 school year, Plaintiff was a physical education teacher and wrestling head coach for Rocky Hill Public Schools. Defs. Ex. 26.

         II. Standard of Review

         A motion for summary judgment shall be granted "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). If, after discovery, the nonmoving party "has failed to make a sufficient showing on an essential element of [his] case with respect to which [he] has the burden of proof, " then summary judgment is appropriate. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The moving party must "demonstrate the absence of any material factual issue genuinely in dispute" to be entitled to summary judgment. Am. Int'l Grp., Inc. v. London Am. Int'l Corp., 664 F.2d 348, 351 (2d Cir. 1981) (quoting Heyman v. Commerce & Indus. Ins. Co., 524 F.2d 1317, 1319-20 (2d Cir. 1975)) (internal quotation marks omitted).

         A fact is material if it "might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). "[I]f the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party, " then a dispute concerning the material fact is genuine. Id. All inferences and ambiguities must be viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Rogoz v. City of Hartford, 796 F.3d 236, 245-46 (2d Cir. 2015). However, "[w]hen the moving party has carried its burden under Rule 56[], its opponent must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). The nonmoving party, "must present specific evidence demonstrating a genuine dispute." Gannon v. UPS, 529 F.App'x 102, 103 (2d Cir. 2013) (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248). "[M]ere conclusory allegations, speculation or conjecture will not avail a party resisting summary judgment." Cifarelli v. Vill. of Babylon, 93 F.3d 47, 51 (2d Cir.1996).

         III. Discussion

         The Court now turns to the arguments presented by Defendants regarding each of Plaintiff's claims. The Court will address Defendants' arguments regarding Plaintiff's § 1983 claims first, because a viable federal claim is necessary to support this Court's subject matter jurisdiction. While Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, the operative pleading, contains a number of state law claims, none of them falls within this Court's original subject matter jurisdiction, which depends upon the existence of a federal question, 28 U.S.C. § 1331, or complete diversity of citizenship between the parties, 28 U.S.C. §1332. A federal district court may exercise supplemental jurisdiction over state law claims other than these, but only if such state claims are included in a complaint which alleges a viable federal claim within the district court's original jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a).

         In the case at bar, Defendants contend that Plaintiff's Amended Complaint fails to allege a viable federal claim.[7] Specifically, Defendants assert that Plaintiff does not plead a violation of his constitutional rights sufficient to support the § 1983 claims, and that the City of Hartford is not a proper defendant because the HBOE, and not the city, is Plaintiff's employer. Defendants also contend that regardless of whether Plaintiff was deprived of any constitutional right, the Individual Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity because such rights were not clearly established. The Court will address each argument in turn.

         A. § 1983 Claims Against the Individual Defendants (Count One)

         "With respect to a section 1983 claim, a plaintiff must prove four elements: (1) actions taken under color of law; (2) deprivation of constitutional or statutory right; (3) causation; and (4) damages." Doe v. City of Waterbury, 453 F.Supp.2d 537, 542 (D. Conn. 2006) (citing 42 U.S.C. § 1983), aff'd, Roe v. City of Waterbury, 542 F.3d 31 (2d Cir. 2008). Plaintiff claims that the Individual Defendants deprived him of certain rights protected by the Fourteenth Amendment, namely: (1) procedural due process afforded under Conn. Gen. Stat. §10-151 and his status as a tenured teacher, [8] (2) equal protection of the laws, and (3) substantive due process. See Plaintiff's Memorandum in Opposition to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, Doc. 41-1 ("Pl. Br."), at 4-14; Am. Cmplt. ¶¶ 45, 78-83.

         1. Procedural Due Process (Property Interest)

         Defendants argue that Plaintiff cannot sustain any cause of action based on alleged violations of his procedural due process rights because he was not a certified teacher at the time of his termination, and consequently had no property right or interest protected by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Defs. Br. at 7-10.[9] Defendants assert that the Court is presented with a solely legal issue-whether a teacher with an expired certification has a property interest in his or her continued employment. Id.

         Plaintiff makes two principal arguments in response. First, Plaintiff asserts that Defendants' argument that he lacked a property interest is based entirely on a genuinely disputed material fact, namely that Plaintiff was not certified at the time of his termination, or was not, at the very least, in the process of renewing his certification. Pl. Br. at 4-12. Therefore, Plaintiff's argument concludes, this genuine factual issue precludes summary judgment for Defendants on this claim, even if Defendants' argument regarding the legal impact of an expired certification is correct. Id. Second, Plaintiff argues that, regardless of his certification status at the time of his termination, he had a property interest in his continued employment as a tenured teacher and that he could not lose that status. Pl. Br. at 5-8.[10]

         The Court first addresses Plaintiff's argument regarding whether there is a genuine issue of fact as to the status of his teaching certification at the time of termination. Then the Court turns to the legal question of the implication, if any, that an expired certification has on a teacher's reasonable expectation of continued employment in Connecticut.

         a. Expiration of Plaintiff's Certification

         Defendants urge that the record shows "unequivocally" that Plaintiff did not submit the ED 179 to renew his certification until October 31, 2013, seven days after his certification had expired. Defs. Br. at 10. Thus, their argument proceeds, Plaintiff was not a certified teacher when he was terminated, and he had no pending application with the CSDE. Id.

         Plaintiff disputes that characterization of the facts, arguing that (1) the Individual Defendants are responsible for any lapse in Plaintiff's certification, since they conspired to avoid Plaintiff's tenure protections and terminate his employment; and (2) Plaintiff's certification application was in fact pending at the time of his termination. Id. at 4-11.

         The record reflects that Plaintiff's certification expired on October 24, 2013, through no fault of Defendants or any of them. There is no genuine dispute about that fact. Plaintiff, despite his repeated assertion that a dispute exists, has failed to demonstrate any basis in the record which supports the assertion. The CSDE confirmed via email to the HBOE on October 25, 2013 that Plaintiff's certification had expired on October 24, Defs. Ex. 10, and that Plaintiff had "NOT submitted an application for renewal" as of that date, id. (emphasis in original). Consequently, it is not surprising that as of November 1, 2013, the CSDE's records noted Plaintiff's certification as "expired, " Defs. Ex. 10a. To reiterate: Although the CSDE remarked in its October 25 emailed response to an inquiry by the Office of Talent Management that Plaintiff could still apply "without a lapse in certification, " Defs. Ex. 10, that email also stated unequivocally that Meyers' certificate had expired on October 24, and that, contrary to Plaintiff's present contentions, as of that date no application on his behalf was pending or had been received by the CSDE. In brief, the CSDE's contemporaneous communications could not have been more clear that Plaintiff's application was not pending on the pertinent dates, and his certificate had expired on October 24. By the same token, the CSDE also repeatedly noted the date of Plaintiff's certification application as October 31, 2013 in correspondence with Plaintiff. Defs. Exs. 18, 19. Plaintiff's contentions on the present motion that these events occurred on different dates find no support in the admissible evidence in the record.

         Plaintiff professes the belief that the CSDE email on October 25, 2013 proves his "application was incomplete" at the time his certification was to expire on October 24, and that subsequent correspondence between the CSDE and Plaintiff demonstrate that Plaintiff needed only the ED 126 to complete his application. Pl. Br. at 5. Plaintiff asserts that Defendants "held up" this form and that is what caused Plaintiff's certification to lapse. Id.; see also Pl. Ex. 5 (Meyers Aff.) ¶¶ 45-56. Plaintiff, in his Affidavit, states that he completed and turned in the ED 179 to Defendant Serrano on August 26, 2013.[11] However, Plaintiff's version of the facts is not at all supported by the record before this Court.

         First, Plaintiff repeatedly confuses the ED 179, which is required to start a certification renewal application and create a "pending" application (as well as an "incomplete" application as opposed to an "expired" one), with an ED 126, an additional form requiring input from Plaintiff's employer which, although required to evaluate a certification renewal application, does not appear to be necessary to characterize an application as "pending."[12] See Defs. Ex. 15a; Pl. Ex. 2. The record, and the CSDE's interactions with Plaintiff, clearly reflect this fundamental difference, which Plaintiff wholly ignores. When the CSDE actually received the ED 126 from Plaintiff on October 29, 2013, the CSDE informed Plaintiff that despite receiving this form his "certificate expired on October 24, 2013, and an application has not been filed to date." Defs. Ex. 12 (emphasis added). When Plaintiff attempted to send the ED 126 again in response to this notice, the CSDE informed him that an ED 179 was required, stating explicitly that the ED 126 "is NOT an application form." Defs. Ex. 13 (emphasis in original). Thus, even if Defendants had not "held up" the ED 126 as Plaintiff alleges and Plaintiff had submitted the ED 126 on time, it would not have prevented the expiration of Plaintiff's certification because no application would have been considered pending. This fact is of no relevance to the determinative issue of whether Plaintiff's application actually expired on October 24, 2013.

         Second, as a general matter the CSDE is responsible for the certification of all teachers within the school system. Each individual teacher is personally responsible for his or her particular certification: a responsibility that does not fall upon the HBOE or any of the Defendants. Defs. Ex. 15a; Pls. Ex. 2. Defendant Serrano at the HBOE assisted individual teachers and professionals with certification issues by sending out reminders about upcoming expirations of certifications and filling out a portion of the ED 126 as necessary. Pl. Ex. 11 (Serrano Dep.) at 43:12-23, 45:14-30, 58:5-59:1.[13] Defendant Serrano and Ms. Hajdasz, both employees of the HBOE, informed Plaintiff that he had to submit his renewal certification paperwork to the CSDE and/or that he had pick up the forms in order for him to submit them. Defs. Exs. 4, 6, 8-9. Even if Plaintiff had ...


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