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Perez-Dickson v. Bridgeport Board of Education

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

January 18, 2018

CARMEN PEREZ-DICKSON, Plaintiff,
v.
BRIDGEPORT BOARD OF EDUCATION, SANDRA KASE, and PAUL VALLAS, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OF DECISION ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS

          WARREN W. EGINTON SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Carmen Perez-Dickson brings this employment discrimination action against defendants Bridgeport Board of Education, Sandra Kase, and Paul Vallas. Perez-Dickson is a Black Hispanic who alleges that defendants discriminated against her based on her race or ethnicity. Perez-Dickson also alleges that defendants retaliated against her based on (1) her complaints of racial discrimination and (2) her exercise of free speech pursuant to the Connecticut Constitution.

         Defendants have filed a motion to dismiss plaintiff's complaint in its entirety. For the following reasons, defendants' motion will be granted.

         Familiarity with the underlying facts and procedural history of this case is presumed.

         DISCUSSION

         The function of a motion to dismiss is "merely to assess the legal feasibility of the complaint, not to assay the weight of the evidence which might be offered in support thereof." Ryder Energy Distribution v. Merrill Lynch Commodities, Inc., 748 F.2d 774, 779 (2d Cir. 1984). When deciding a motion to dismiss, the Court must accept all well-pleaded allegations as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the pleader. Hishon v. King, 467 U.S. 69, 73 (1984). The complaint must contain the grounds upon which the claim rests through factual allegations sufficient “to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007). A plaintiff is obliged to amplify a claim with some factual allegations in those contexts where such amplification is needed to render the claim plausible. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).

         In a prior action between these parties (“Perez-Dickson I”), this court concluded that plaintiff had proffered insufficient evidence of similarly situated comparators to admit an inference of discriminatory purpose. 13-cv-198 (WWE). Plaintiff similarly failed to adduce evidence showing that the challenged actions were pretext for retaliation. Accordingly, summary judgment was granted in favor of defendants. On de novo review, the Second Circuit agreed:

Not only did none of the cited comparators hold the position of principal, but also, most were accused of a single act of abuse, not the multiple acts charged to plaintiff, each of which was preserved on videotape. Like the district court, we further conclude that, even if plaintiff had carried her prima facie burden, she failed to adduce evidence that would allow a reasonable fact finder to conclude that, in the face of the serious (and documented) allegations of student abuse by plaintiff, defendants' actions in placing her on paid administrative leave pending investigation were a pretext for race discrimination.

Perez Dickson v. Bridgeport Board of Education, 2017 WL 362771, at *2 (2d Cir. Jan. 24, 2017).

         This court previously dismissed the instant case (“Perez-Dickson II”) as duplicative of Perez-Dickson I. The court reasoned that because plaintiff could have moved to add the allegations contained in this case to the prior action but failed to do so within the schedule prescribed by the magistrate judge, plaintiff should not be permitted to circumvent the unmet deadlines by filing a duplicative action. These additional claims are of such a nature that they could have and should have been joined in the first action. Nevertheless, the Second Circuit, in Curtis v. Citibank, N.A., held that a “plaintiff has no continuing obligation to file amendments to the complaint to stay abreast of subsequent events; plaintiff may simply bring a later suit on those later-arising claims.” 226 F.3d 133, 139 (2d Cir. 2000). Accordingly, the Second Circuit remanded Perez-Dickson II. Defendants now move to dismiss the case in its entirety.

         Perez-Dickson II adds claims that, subsequent to being placed on paid administrative leave (the subject of Perez-Dickson I), plaintiff was given a six month suspension without pay and was not granted the same rights and privileges as other administrators. Further, in August 2014, plaintiff was notified by the State Department of Education that her licensure as an administrator would not be renewed. Finally, plaintiff alleges that defendants' actions were not based on serious, documented allegations of student abuse, but were instead retaliation for plaintiff's speech in 2012 concerning “the inability of school administrators to handle children who are disciplinary problems.”

         While cognizant of its duty to accept all well-pleaded allegations as true, for purposes of efficiency and fairness, the court takes judicial notice of the records of Perez-Dickson I.

         Dr. Kase and Mr. Vallas

         Dr. Sandra Kase was Chief Administrative Officer and Paul Vallas was Superintendent of Schools until their employment with the ...


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