United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ENTRY ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
RICHARD L. YOUNG, Chief District Judge.
Plaintiff, Priscilla Davis, is a teacher employed by the Anderson Community School Corporation ("ACSC"), located in Anderson, Indiana. Following the recommendation by the Board of Review of the ACSC Peer Assistance and Review ("PAR") Program that Plaintiff's Teacher Contract should be cancelled, Plaintiff brought the present declaratory judgment action against the Defendants, the Board of School Trustees of the ACSC and the ACSC ("School Board"), asking for a declaration that the procedures stated in the ACSC's PAR Guidelines violate the due process clauses of the Indiana and United States Constitutions, and are void for vagueness under Article 1, § 12 of the Indiana Constitution, and that ACSC breached her Teacher's Contract, the PAR Guidelines, and her Contract with the Anderson Federation of Teachers ("Union Contract") by, inter alia, failing to give her the support necessary for her special needs classroom, failing to give her teaching/instructional materials necessary to properly instruct her students, and by failing to give her a preparatory period and lunch period. Defendants now move for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, the Defendants' motion is GRANTED.
I. Factual Background
The facts in this case are undisputed, and center upon Plaintiff's participation in the PAR Program. The PAR Program is the product of an agreement between ACSC and the Anderson Federation of Teachers, and establishes certain contractual procedures that will be followed prior to a principal initiating the statutory contract cancellation process due to inadequate teaching performance. (Defendants' Ex. 1, Declaration of Eric Creviston ("Creviston Dec.") ¶ 24). It is also used as a means to evaluate first-year teachers. ( See PAR Handbook and Forms at 2-5).
The process begins for a "non-first year teacher" through a referral to the PAR Program by the building Principal or the Teachers' Union building committee. ( Id. ¶ 29; Defendants' Ex. 3, PAR Handbook and Forms at 6). A consulting teacher is appointed to observe the teacher, and prepares a report to the PAR Board of Review (or "Board") of his or her observations and recommendations. (Creviston Dec. ¶ 31; PAR Handbook and Forms at 6). The Board of Review is a nine (9) member committee composed of four (4) administrators appointed by the Superintendent and five (5) teachers appointed by the President of the Teacher's Union.
A teacher is placed in the PAR Program if the Board of Review, after considering the consulting teacher's report, determines the teacher should be placed in step one of the program, known as "Assistance." (PAR Handbook and Forms at 6-10). If the teacher is not successful in the Assistance step of PAR, the Board of Review places the teacher in "Intervention." ( Id. at 11-16). After referral to the Intervention phase, a teacher has the right to have an independent arbitrator review the process to determine whether all the procedural steps in the PAR Guidelines had been complied with before placement in Intervention. ( Id. at 13 ¶ 1). If the arbitrator finds the procedural steps have been properly followed, and the teacher is not successful in the Intervention phase, six (6) of the nine (9) Board of Review members must affirmatively vote to make a recommendation to ACSC to start the statutory teacher contract cancellation process provided for in Title 20, Article 28, Chapter 7 of the Indiana Code. ( Id. at 14 ¶ 1). This statutory process may only begin when the Principal serves the teacher a written preliminary decision of contract cancellation. (Creviston Dec. ¶ 22).
Plaintiff is a licensed teacher assigned to Eastside Elementary School, is a member of the Anderson Federation of Teachers, and is employed subject to a Teacher's Contract, signed by Plaintiff and the ACSC. (Defendants' Ex. 2, Plaintiff's Teacher Contract). In early February 2013, Plaintiff was referred to the PAR Program, and was assigned a consulting teacher, Don Hartzell, who observed her on two (2) separate occasions. (Creviston Dec. ¶¶ 30, 32; Defendants' Ex. 5, Board of Review Report at 1). Mr. Hartzell then prepared a report to the PAR Board of Review of his observations and recommendations of Plaintiff. ( Id. ¶ 33). Based on Mr. Hartzell's report, the Board of Review voted to assign Plaintiff to Intervention on September 24, 2013. (Defendants' Ex. 17, Board of Review Report at 1). Plaintiff had an independent arbitrator review the process; the arbitrator found the process was consistent with the PAR Guidelines. (Defendants' Ex. 16, Board of Review Minutes at 1).
On November 8, 2013, Plaintiff was placed in the Intervention phase. (Defendants' Exs. 18-21, November-December 2013 Observation Reports). Mr. Hartzell conducted four observations of her in November and December 2013. ( Id. ). Following his observations, Mr. Hartzell prepared a report and met with the Board of Review to assist it in determining the next step for Plaintiff. (Defendants' Ex. 17, Board of Review Report).
On January 15, 2014, the Board of Review voted 9-0 to recommend that ACSC commence the statutory teacher contract cancellation process pursuant to Title 20, Article 28 of the Indiana Code. (Defendants' Ex. 16, Board of Review Minutes at 3). The Board notified Plaintiff of the decision by letter, placed her on administrative leave with pay, and informed her of her right to appeal to the Board to reconsider its decision, which had to have been filed in writing within five (5) days of receipt of the letter. (Defendants' Ex. 22, Board of Review Written Notice at 1; Creviston Dec. ¶¶ 37-38). Following several continuances, on the day her appeal was to proceed, February 19, 2014, the ACSC was served with an Order on Plaintiff's Motion for Emergency TRO and Preliminary Injunctive Relief issued by the Madison Circuit Court, Division V, ordering that the appeal hearing scheduled for that day be "continued until further order of this Court." (Defendants' Ex. 23, State Court Order at 2; Creviston Dec. ¶ 44).
On February 25, 2014, Plaintiff's case was removed to this court, and on July 9, 2014, the court dissolved the injunction issued by the Madison Circuit Court.
II. Summary Judgment Standard
Summary judgment is proper where "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). Where, as here, the facts are not in dispute, the issue is one of law, making summary disposition especially appropriate.
A. Federal ...