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Lutz v. Delano Union School District

September 29, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Oliver W. Wanger United States District Judge

SCHEDULING CONFERENCE ORDER Discovery Cut-Off: 8/15/11 Non-Dispositive Motion Filing Deadline: 8/31/11 Non-Dispositive Motion Hearing Date: 10/7/11 9:00 Ctrm. 9 Deadline: 9/30/11 Dispositive Motion Filing Dispositive Motion Hearing Date: 10/31/11 10:00 Ctrm. 3 Settlement Conference Date: 8/23/11 10:00 Ctrm. 9 Pre-Trial Conference Date: 12/5/11 11:00 Ctrm. 3 Trial Date: 1/18/12 9:00 Ctrm. 3 (JT-4 days)

I. Date of Scheduling Conference

September 29, 2010.

III. Summary of Pleadings

A. Plaintiff's Contentions

1. Plaintiff Alan Lutz has filed this action alleging that Defendants, acting on their own and out of the scope and purpose of their relationship, made statements to Delano Union Elementary School District with the intent that such statements would cause harm to Plaintiff's employment relationship with Delano Union Elementary School District. The statements were made by these individuals, purporting to act under California Education Code, to the effect that Plaintiff Alan Lutz violated the terms and conditions of his classified employment with Delano Unified School District by speaking out in public against Delano Unified School District's announced policy to treat students who were citizens of Mexico, by permitting favorable treatment of students who were citizens of Mexico concerning their ability to be absent from class and not suffer any adverse consequences, while imposing adverse consequences upon students who were United States citizens for absences from school over periods considerably shorter than the periods of absence of the Mexican citizen students who suffered no adverse consequences. In this regard, Alan Lutz contends that he spoke about the foregoing described terms of disparate treatment to Defendant Linda Enriquez, who was then and there a principal of an elementary school within the Delano Union School District and she became enraged, enlisted the aid of Defendants Ronald Garcia and Joseph Hunter, who were then and there executive personnel of Delano Union Elementary School District.

2. Plaintiff contends that his remarks were protected political speech on a matter of great public concern, to wit: disparate treatment of students on the basis of their ancestry or citizenship. Plaintiff alleges that in retaliation for making his speech, Defendants Enriquez, Garcia, and Hunter used their administrative and executive positions in the Delano Union Elementary School District to influence the Delano Union Elementary School District Governing Board to impose adverse employment discipline upon Plaintiff, to wit: suspension of his employment without pay for 30 days. Plaintiff contends that this retaliatory action was done under color of state law, to prevent him from, or to retaliate against him for speaking out about matters of great public importance in violation of the protections secured to him by Amendment I of the United States Constitution.

3. Plaintiff Lutz alleges that the suspension caused him loss of financial remuneration and that the incident and the ongoing animosity it generated further caused him to suffer such embarrassment, humiliation, and emotional distress that precipitated in him a desire to retire earlier than he otherwise would have done, resulting in a substantial loss of income and benefits to him.

B. Defendants' Contentions

1. Plaintiff Lutz's comments were threatening and intimidating and made in a threatening and intimidating manner; were done in a manner that violated the good order and administration of Plaintiff's employer [a school district]; his comments were upsetting and/or frightening to others who were in the school-site office while he made them; Plaintiff abused his position as an employee of Defendant Delano School District to gain access to the school site and school officials in order to interject himself into a parent meeting regarding a student when he was not a parent of that student. Essentially, Plaintiff scared the office, which was full of women of smaller size, by yelling, screaming, and taking on a physically intimidating stance - in an elementary school office.

2. On or about the date alleged in the Complaint, Defendant Linda Enriquez was having a meeting with the mother of a student at Del Vista Elementary School. This was Plaintiff Lutz's daughter-in-law, and the student was his grandchild. Plaintiff Lutz became aware of the meeting while he was at work (Plaintiff did not work at the school-site).

3. Plaintiff entered the school office and shouted "where is the god-damn principal?" and began screaming for Defendant Enriquez to make herself available. His screams continued with a string of profanities, including profane racial pejoratives. He went into Defendant Enriquez's office and started screaming at her, at one point getting so close to her that she was afraid to stand up for fear of him considering it a physical challenge. Defendant Enriquez asked to end the meeting, but Plaintiff Lutz refused - until a white male entered the school office and Plaintiff Lutz was asked to leave. He did so, but remained in front of the school in his pick-up truck. A police report was lodged regarding the incident.

4. Defendant Enriquez reported Plaintiff's conduct to Defendants Hunter and Garcia. Defendants Hunter and Garcia began an investigation into Plaintiff's conduct while on the job. Plaintiff, a school district employee, was found to have breached the disciplinary requirements of district employees by discourteous treatment of the public, students, and other employees, and for engaging in conduct of such a nature that it brings discredit to the employing district.

5. Defendants contend that Plaintiff's speech was not political speech on an important public issue protected by the First Amendment, but rather was an aggressive, violent, racialist diatribe intended to intimidate and strike fear into the hearts of people, many of whom were part of the class of persons against whom he railed, who were just trying to run a school. This was done on campus, in the workplace, and in violation of the terms and conditions of Plaintiff's employment.

IV. Orders Re Amendments To Pleadings

1. The parties do not anticipate amending the pleadings at this time.

V. Factual Summary

A. Admitted Facts Which Are Deemed Proven Without Further Proceedings

1. Plaintiff Alan Lutz was a permanent, classified employee of Delano Union Elementary School District at all times material to the allegations set forth in the First Amended Complaint.

2. Plaintiff Lutz spoke to Linda Enriquez after his grandson was disciplined.

3. Defendant Linda Enriquez believed that Plaintiff Lutz's comments were made in a hostile and offensive manner.

4. Defendant Linda Enriquez reported her concerns about Plaintiff Lutz's comments to Defendants Ronald Garcia and Joseph Hunter.

5. Plaintiff Alan Lutz has subsequently retired from his employment with Delano Union Elementary School District and is no longer employed there.

B. Contested Facts

1. Whether the comments made by Plaintiff Lutz were made in a "hostile and offensive" manner.

2. Whether the comments made by Plaintiff Lutz concerned a matter of great public importance.

3. Whether Delano Unified School District engaged in any retaliatory ...

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