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Harris v. Lynwood Unified School Dist.

September 3, 2009

JANTHA HARRIS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
LYNWOOD UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT, RACHEL CHAVEZ, MARTINA RODRIGUEZ, MARIA LOPEZ, JOSE LUIS SOLACHE, ALFONSO MORALES, GUADALUPE RODRIGUEZ, DHYAN LAL, ROBERTO CASAS, DIANE LUCAS; ANIM MENER, MALCOLM BUTLER, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dean D. Pregerson United States District Judge

I. BACKGROUND

ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART THE MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

[Motion filed on May 28, 2009]

Plaintiff Jantha Harris, who is African American, has been employed by Defendant Lynwood Unified School District (the "District") since 1981 in various capacities. (Harris Decl. ¶¶ 2-6.) In 1999, Plaintiff began work as an assistant principal at Hosler Middle School. (Id. ¶ 6.) In July 2002, Plaintiff was demoted from assistant principal of Hosler Middle School to assistant principal of Washington Elementary School ("Washington"). (Id.) The person who replaced Plaintiff at Hosler was a Caucasian woman who had not received a "certificate of eligibility" to seek an administrative position and had less time in the District than Plaintiff. (Id.) In July 2003, Plaintiff filed a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") against the District for discrimination, based on this demotion. (Id. ¶¶ 6-7.) Two months later, in September 2003, Plaintiff was promoted to principal of Will Rogers Elementary School ("Will Rogers"). (Id. ¶ 8.) Plaintiff was reappointed as principal of Will Rogers for the 2004-05 school year. (Id. ¶ 10.)

Plaintiff states that after she was reappointed as principal of Will Rogers, in Fall 2004, one of the teachers at Will Rogers named Rex Lopez began a "systematic and sophisticated campaign of racial harassment and intimidation against [her]." (Id. ¶ 18.) Lopez "incited and solicited Latino parents to go to the [District] Board," because the Board was "specifically engaged in a racist agenda against African-American employees." (Id. ¶ 21.) During this time, Plaintiff states she suffered "intimidation and harassment," which she reported to the District's assistant superintendents and superintendent. (Id. ¶ 22.) However, the District took no action and ignored the "racially charged situation." (Id. ¶¶ 24-25.)

The District demoted Plaintiff on June 28, 2005 (two years after her promotion) back to assistant principal of Washington, to the same position that had caused her 2003 complaint to the EEOC. (Id. ¶ 12.) Plaintiff was replaced at Will Rogers by Malcolm Butler ("Butler"), an African-American man. (Id. ¶ 13; Statement of Uncontroverted Facts ("SUF") ¶ 10.) According to Plaintiff, Butler had less experience than her and was hired from outside the District. (Harris Decl. ¶ 14.) Plaintiff filed charges with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing's Equal Employment Commission ("EEOC") on July 28, 2005 in relation to her demotion and the conduct of Lopez. (Supp. Harris Decl. Ex. 1.) Plaintiff filed suit on June 2, 2006.

On March 25, 2008, Plaintiff filed a Second Amended Complaint ("SAC") bringing the following claims against the District:

1) wrongful demotion based on race in violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act ("FEHA"), Cal. Gov. Code ¶ 12940(a);

2) wrongful demotion based on retaliation in violation of FEHA § 12940(h);

3) failure to prevent retaliation in violation of FEHA § 12940(h);

4) failure to prevent harassment in violation of FEHA § 12940(k); and

5) racial discrimination and general deprivation of rights under Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. (SAC 7-14.) Defendant moved for summary judgment on May 28, 2009. This Court requested supplemental briefing on the issue of exhaustion of administrative remedies on August 7, 2009, which the parties have submitted. The Court now considers Defendant's motion.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate where "the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the ...


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