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Foster v. Board of Education of Anne Arundel County

United States District Court, D. Maryland, Northern Division

January 7, 2015

ANNIE FOSTER, Plaintiff,
v.
BOARD OF EDUCATION OF ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

WILLIAM D. QUARLES, Jr., District Judge.

Annie Foster sued the Board of Education of Anne Arundel County (the "Board of Education"), Anne Arundel County Public Schools ("AACPS"), and others, [1] for race discrimination and retaliation. ECF No. 2 at 18-25.[2] Pending are AACPS's motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, ECF No. 10, and Foster's unopposed motion for leave to amend her complaint, ECF No. 25.[3] No hearing is necessary. Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2014). For the following reasons, AACPS's motion to dismiss, and Foster's motion for leave to amend, will be granted.

I. Background

A. Facts[4]

Since 1997, Foster, a 52 year old African American female, has worked for the Board of Education and AACPS. ECF No. 25-2 ¶¶ 1, 6. From 1997 to 2006, Foster was a teacher; from 2006 to mid-2011, she was assistant principal at the Center of Applied Technology North High School. Id. ¶ 6.

Until 2010, Foster had received positive performance evaluations. Id. ¶¶ 7-10. During the 2010-2011 academic year, Foster "made an internal EEO[5] complaint to the school system, " alleging race discrimination by Dan Schaffhauser. Id. ¶ 12. In March 2011, Schaffhauser learned of the allegations. Id. In June 2011, Schaffhauser gave Foster a rating of "Needs Improvement/Marginal" in her annual performance review, and downgraded her overall performance from "Highly effective" to "Satisfactory, " the "second lowest possible rating." Id. ¶ 14.

In August 2011, Foster was transferred to Arundel High School; other than Foster, the school had "an all-white administrative staff." Id. ¶¶ 11, 13. Foster was not immediately selected to become an assistant principal. Id. ¶ 18.[6]

Before the school year began, assistant principal Gina Davenport was to attend a meeting with a new teacher, Kandi Ford, who was African American. Id. ¶ 19.[7] Davenport failed to attend the meeting; thus, Foster conducted the meeting with Ford. Id. Foster complained to principal Sharon Stratton and Davenport that she believed that she "was left to assist Ms. Ford by herself since she and Ms. Ford are both African-American." Id.

Foster's complaint "prompted Defendant Stratton to review [her] personnel file, " and seek "means to rid herself of" Foster. Id. ¶ 20. After finding Foster's negative 2010-2011 performance evaluation, Stratton placed Foster on a "Professional Growth Plan."[8] Id. ¶¶ 21, 24-25. Although it was never implemented, in October 2011, Stratton issued Foster a "Plan of Action for Improvement Chart."[9] Id. ¶ 26.

In November 2011, Stratton learned about Foster's EEO complaint. Id. ¶ 29. That same month, Stratton "reported to the school system" that Foster had allegedly commented to an Arundel High School secretary that "there was a lot of racism going on.'" Id.

A school investigator - who was also an attorney - "construed [Foster] as the victim" and "conveyed [Foster's] concerns to Defendant Stratton." Id. ¶ 31. However, "[n]o remedial or corrective measures were ever undertaken." Id.

Although mid-school-year evaluations were unusual, in December 2011 Stratton gave Foster a "Marginal" performance rating. Id. ¶¶ 32-33. In January 2012, Foster rebutted Stratton's evaluation in a letter, copies of which were sent to the state and local NAACP, stating that she does "not accept the labeling and stereotyping of [herself] simply as an administrator for the black kids.'" Id. ¶ 34.

In March 2012, Foster received a letter from Department of Education Superintendent George Arlotto, stating that unless Foster improved from "Marginal" to "Satisfactory" at her year-end evaluation, administrative action could be taken - including "reassignment to a teaching position." Id. ¶ 36.

In May 2012, Stratton gave Foster an "Unsatisfactory" performance evaluation, the "lowest possible rating." Id. ¶ 37. In June 2012, Foster was "demoted" from ...


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