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Leser v. Indianapolis Public Schools

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

June 4, 2018

DEBORAH L LESER, Plaintiff,
v.
INDIANAPOLIS PUBLIC SCHOOLS, BOARD OF SCHOOL COMMISSIONERS FOR THE CITY OF INDIANAPOLIS, MARY ANN SULLIVAN Individually and in her Official Capacity, SAM ODLE Individually and in his Official Capacity, LANIER ECHOLS Individually and in her Official Capacity, MICHAEL O'CONNOR Individually and in his Official Capacity, GAYLE COSBY Individually and in her Official Capacity, KELLY BENTLEY Individually and in her Official Capacity, DIANE ARNOLD Individually and in her Official Capacity, Defendants.

          ORDER ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO AMEND COMPLAINT

          Doris L. Pryor United States Magistrate Judge Southern District of Indiana

         This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion to Amend/Correct the Complaint (Dkt. 66), wherein the Plaintiff seeks to add seven additional Defendants. The motion was referred to the undersigned for ruling. Having examined the facts in light of the applicable standards, the Court GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN PART said Motion.

         Procedural History

         On July 29, 2016, Plaintiff filed her Complaint, alleging violations of procedural and substantive due process rights under both federal and state law. (Dkt. 1). On July 28, 2017, this Court issued an Order on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. 49), summarizing the procedural and factual history of this case. The Court noted that the Complaint asserted “essentially three distinct federal claims against Defendants, specifically: 1) failure to provide proper notice of Leser's alleged wrongdoing in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment; 2) failure to advise Leser of her Garrity rights in violation of the Fifth Amendment; and 3) arbitrary and capricious termination in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.” (Dkt. 49 at 11). The Court disposed of Count II, the Count related to the deprivation of Leser's Garrity rights. The Court further determined that the time was not yet ripe for a determination related to the Defendants' qualified immunity claim due to a lack of information before the Court.[1] On December 28, 2017, the deadline by which to amend any pleadings, the Plaintiff filed her Motion to Amend/Correct the Complaint (Dkt. 66).

         Factual Summary

         In 2016, Deborah Leser (“Leser”) was working for Indianapolis Public Schools (“IPS” as Director of Student Services, and was tasked with supervising the principal of Longfellow Alternative School. On February 17, 2016, William Jensen (“Jensen”), then-principal of Longfellow, contacted Leser regarding a parent's report of an inappropriate sexual relationship between a student and a Longfellow employee named Shana Taylor (“Taylor”). Leser directed Jensen to contact Lela Hester (“Hester”), the Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources for IPS, who advised Jensen not to involve the police. A week later, the story became public. Leser was interviewed in early March 2016 by David Given, an attorney for IPS, to gather facts regarding the complaint made against Taylor.

         On June 1, 2016, Leser received a letter notifying her of a preliminary decision to cancel her employment contract for failing to report the Taylor incident to CPS. On June 27, 2016, a hearing was held before the Board of School Commissioners for the City of Indianapolis (“Board” or “the Board”). Three days later on June 30, 2016, the Board unanimously voted to cancel Leser's employment contracts based on insubordination and neglect of duty.

         Legal Standard

         Here, the Plaintiff has filed for leave to amend her complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 15(a)(2). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(2) governs that a leave to amend “shall be freely given when justice so requires.” However, where the proposed amendment would be futile, the Court may deny leave to amend. Runnion ex el. Runnion v. Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana, 786 F.3d 510, 520 (7th Cir. 2015) (citing Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962)). “A motion to amend should state with particularity the grounds for the motion and should be accompanied by the proposed amendment.” Otto v. Variable Annuity Life Ins. Co., 814 F.2d 1127, 1139 (7th Cir. 1986). If the proposed amendment fails to cure the deficiencies in the original complaint, or could not survive a motion to dismiss, the court may deny leave to amend. Gonzalez-Koeneke v. West, 791 F.3d 801, 807 (7th Cir. 2015).

         Discussion

         David Given

         Plaintiff seeks to add David Given as a Defendant to Count II of the Proposed Amended Complaint, which alleges that the Defendants failed to advise Leser of her Garrity rights in violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. (Dkt. 66-2 at 24-25) As noted above, the Court dismissed this claim on July 28, 2017. Once a particular count of a Complaint has been dismissed by the Court, it may not then be resurrected upon amendment, absent providing additional information or factual support. In her Proposed Amended Complaint, the Plaintiff does not include any new factual information or allegations, but instead restates verbatim the original Count. (Dkt. 1 at 22; Dkt. 66-2 at 14, 24-25). The Court found this Count to be without merit then and it remains without merit now and could not withstand a motion to dismiss. The Plaintiff has failed to cure the deficiencies in the original complaint. Therefore, Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Amend the Complaint to add David Given as a Defendant is DENIED.

         Jonathan Mayes

         Plaintiff seeks to add Jonathan Mayes (“Mayes”) as a Defendant to Count I, related to Leser's procedural due process rights in the form of proper notice, and to Counts III and IV, related to Leser's substantive due process rights under both federal and state law. The Plaintiff asserts that Mayes is a proper party for his role as an alleged “hearing officer” for Leser's hearing before the Board on June 27, 2016. In the proposed amendment, Leser contends that the Plaintiff had provided an email sent from Mayes to both counsel for the Plaintiff and for the Defendants on June 15, 2016, wherein he wrote that he ...


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