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Parsley v. Russell County School Board

United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Abingdon Division

June 12, 2014

LORI S. PARSLEY, Plaintiff,
v.
RUSSELL COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

PAMELA MEADE SANGENT, Magistrate Judge.

This matter is before the court on the Defendant's Motion To Dismiss Pursuant To Fed. R. Civ. Pro 12(B)(1) And 12(B)(6) And Memorandum In Support Thereof, (Docket Item No. 4) ("Motion to Dismiss"), and on the Plaintiff's Motion To Amend Complaint, (Docket Item No. 9) ("Motion to Amend") (collectively "Motions"). A hearing was held before the undersigned on the Motions on June 11, 2014. Based on the arguments and representations of counsel, and for the reasons set out below, the Motion to Amend will be granted, and the Motion to Dismiss will be granted in part and denied in part.

I.

Lori S. Parsley, by Complaint filed November 23, 2013, (Docket Item No. 1), sues Russell County Public Schools, ("Defendant"), pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C §§ 2000e, et seq., alleging that she was discriminated against in her employment as an Aide based on her sex. Parsley alleges that she began her employment with the Defendant in August 1998 as a "Special Education Aide with the Trainable Mentally Disabled." (Complaint at 2.) Parsley remained in this position until May 2010, when she obtained her Bachelor's Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies, lacking four courses to obtain a degree in Special Education. (Complaint at 2.) However, upon obtaining her Bachelor's Degree, she alleges that she became "Special Ed Eligible." (Complaint at 2.) Also, in May 2010, Regina Hicks, a "Learning Disability Aide, " announced her retirement. (Complaint at 2.) However, Hicks's vacant position was not posted, making it impossible for Parsley to apply for it. (Complaint at 2.) Instead, Brandon Taylor, a male with a degree in History, and who, according to Parsley, had been unable to pass the Praxis I exam, [1] was provided notice of, and ultimately was offered, this position. (Complaint at 2.) At the time Taylor was offered this position, he served as a baseball coach at Lebanon High School, ("LHS"), and had worked as a personal aide to a special education student. (Complaint at 2.) According to Parsley, she was more qualified than Taylor for this position because she had been working for 10 years in the field of Special Education. (Complaint at 2.) Parsley claims that she asked Mr. Dodi, the principal at LHS, why she was not considered for this position, to which Dodi responded that openings were offered to the newest employees. (Complaint at 2.) It was only after Parsley challenged Dodi regarding compliance with Title VII laws that he offered her this job and informed Taylor that he would not be getting the position. (Complaint at 2.)

Also following Parsley's college graduation, Jared Sparks, a male baseball coach at Castlewood High School, ("CHS"), was transferred to LHS, ostensibly to take over the varsity baseball program. (Complaint at 2-3.) At the time of this transfer, no position for Special Education Teacher openly existed. (Complaint at 3.) However, after arriving at LHS, Sparks was given the position of Special Education Learning Disabled Teacher, for which, according to Parsley, he was not endorsed. (Complaint at 3.) Again, Parsley was not considered for this position. (Complaint at 3.) When Parsley asked Dodi about this, Dodi stated that it was a "transfer, " not a "new, " position. (Complaint at 3.) It was then that Parsley advised of her intent to file an EEOC Complaint. (Complaint at 3.)

Parsley worked in the Learning Disabled Aide position from August 2010 through June 2012, under the supervision of Teacher Ida Ashbrook. (Complaint at 3.) In this position, Parsley's duties included: (1) teaching; (2) compiling lesson plans; (3) preparing students for SOL testing; (4) administering SOL tests; (5) assisting in writing Individual Education Plans, ("IEPs"); (6) addressing student behavior issues; and (7) covering the teacher's classes as needed. (Complaint at 3.) Ashbrook retired at the end of the 2011-2012 school year. (Complaint at 3.)

According to Parsley, under Virginia teaching certification rules, an individual can meet the student teaching requirement by employment as a Long-Term Substitute Teacher. (Complaint at 3.) She alleges that, since August 2010, she had been performing the duties of a Substitute Teacher, despite working under the title of Learning Disabled Aide, and had, therefore, fulfilled the student teaching requirement. (Complaint at 3.)

Parsley claims that she requested that Mike Puckett, the Superintendent for Russell County Schools in 2010, change her title from Aide to Long-Term Substitute Teacher to correctly reflect her functional title and to allow her to receive credit for student teaching necessary for licensure. (Complaint at 3.) However, both he and Dodi refused, even though, according to Parsley, both men knew that she had been performing the duties of a Long-Term Substitute Teacher for two years, they knew it would significantly negatively impact her pay scale, and they knew it would prevent her from receiving credit for the student teaching requirement for licensure. (Complaint at 3-4.) Instead, Both Dodi and Puckett stated they wanted her to perform actual student teaching in Special Education. (Complaint at 3-4.)

Parsley alleges that she continued to function as a Long-Term Substitute Teacher for the 2012-2013 school year. (Complaint at 4.) However, the Defendant continued to deny her the monetary compensation and title reflecting her functional position and gave her the title of "Aide." (Complaint at 4.) Parsley further alleges that while "Teachers" are given five classes to teach, she taught six classes. (Complaint at 4.) All "Teachers" are paid extra for teaching a sixth class, but the Defendant refused to compensate her for teaching the sixth class because she was denied the classification of a "Teacher." (Complaint at 4.) On August 21, 2012, Brian Hooker, the new LHS principal, agreed to reclassify Parsley's position to "½ Day Teacher, ½ Day Instructional Aide." (Complaint at 4.) According to Parsley, this allowed her a nominal increase in pay, but still failed to accurately reflect that she was working as a full-time Teacher at all times of the day, including administering SOL testing, teaching SOL classes and completing and signing IEPs, all at the Defendant's instruction, and all functions which cannot be performed by an employee not a "Teacher." (Complaint at 4.)

Parsley alleges that in May or June 2013, another male, Mr. Rasnick, was hired at LHS as a Resource Teacher[2]. (Complaint at 5.) According to Parsley, Rasnick was only endorsed in Physical Education/Health and had no experience in Special Education. (Complaint at 5.) Principal Hooker advised Parsley that she was not considered for the position because of her classification as an "Aide." (Complaint at 5.)

Parsley alleges that, as early as March 2013, the Defendant was planning to terminate her employment, claiming that it needed to lay off one Instructional Aide, but then it hired two males, ultimately placing them in positions as Special Education Teachers. (Complaint at 5.) She alleges that the Defendant's plan was to first give each of these males a coaching position and then almost immediately thereafter add the position of Special Education Teacher for each of them. (Complaint at 5.)

Parsley alleges that she was constructively discharged on August 10, 2013. (Complaint at 5.) Almost immediately thereafter, the Defendant hired Andy Salyers, a laid-off Physical Education Teacher and volunteer football coach, as a Special Education Teacher in Language Arts/English at Lebanon Middle School, ("LMS"). (Complaint at 5.) According to Parsley, Salyers had no Special Education experience, nor was he licensed in Special Education. (Complaint at 5.) Also shortly after Parsley's alleged constructive discharge, the Defendant hired Mr. Potts, who moved from North Carolina to take a position, initially as a coach, and then as a Special Education Teacher. (Complaint at 5.) The Defendant allowed both Salyers and Potts three years from their respective dates of hire to meet the requirements necessary to obtain Special Education licenses, while denying Parsley the same and further denying Parsley the ability to obtain certification due to its refusal to properly classify, as well as compensate, her as a Teacher. (Complaint at 5-6.)

Parsley alleges that neither Potts, Rasnick nor Salyers had been issued a Special Education provisional license prior to the Defendant hiring each of them for the position of Special Education Teacher. (Complaint at 6.) Nonetheless, the Defendant advised the EEOC that each of these males was licensed prior to being hired by the Defendant. (Complaint at 6.) Further, according to Parsley, while refusing to assist her in obtaining her provisional license to teach Special Education, Defendant's employees Rebecca Dye and Kim Hooker took every action to ensure that these males submitted all appropriate documentation to obtain their Special Education provisional licenses. (Complaint at 6.)

Parsley alleges that the Defendant intentionally withheld or eliminated certain documents from her personnel file in its "copy" of her personnel file that it submitted to the EEOC. (Complaint at 7.) According to Parsley, these documents include, but are not limited to, a form signed by Rebecca Dye, confirming that Parsley was employed by the Defendant as a full-time employee, as well as applications submitted by Parsley over the last five years of her employment for Special Education positions, which included letters from her to Harry Steffey[3] and Mike Puckett. (Complaint at 7.) She ...


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