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London v. Loyola High School of Baltimore, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Maryland

September 25, 2019



          DEBORAH K. CHASANOW, United States District Judge

         Presently pending and ready for resolution in this employment discrimination case is the motion for summary judgment filed by Defendant Loyola High School of Baltimore, Inc. t/a Loyola Blakefield. (ECF No. 26). The issues have been briefed, and the court now rules, no hearing being deemed necessary. Local Rule 105.6. For the following reasons, Defendant's motion will be granted with respect to Plaintiff's federal claims and supplemental jurisdiction will be declined with respect to Plaintiff's state claims.

         I. Background

         A. Factual Background

         The following facts are presented in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, the non-moving party.

         In September 1988, Plaintiff began working as a Band Director for Defendant. In March 2016, Defendant notified Plaintiff that his contract would not be renewed for the 2016-2017 school year.

         At the time of the non-renewal, James Katchko was the Chair of the Performing Arts Department, John McCaul was the Assistant Principal, John Marinacci was the Principal, and Anthony Day was the President. Mary Thielen was the Middle School Band Director.

         Beginning in 2007, Plaintiff demonstrated work performance issues. For example, in October 2007, Plaintiff forgot that he had a class to teach on two occasions. Defendant subsequently placed him on probation and temporarily withheld a contract for the 2008-2009 school year. Plaintiff ultimately received the contract. In 2013, Defendant instructed Plaintiff to cease contact with the Business Office and, instead, to use Mr. Katchko as a liaison following "disruptive and accusatory [] " behavior that "monopolized] the time and resources of that office." (ECF No. 26-5). In November 2013, Plaintiff fell asleep during class and Mr. McCaul warned "that sleeping when [he was] expected to be supervising students may lead to immediate termination." (ECF No. 26-6) .

         In June 2014, Plaintiff sent a letter to Defendant to explain that he recently learned that he had Lyme Disease and that "[t]he only major symptom. . . was enormous fatigue[.]" (ECF No. 26-19). Plaintiff offered this as an explanation for falling asleep in the November 2013 class, but explained that "since beginning treatment, the symptoms and fatigue are completely gone." (Id.)

         Before the 2015-2016 school year, Mr. Marinacci reviewed stipends paid to faculty members and decided to eliminate Plaintiff's stipend. (ECF No. 29-4, at 4-6). Plaintiff objected to the reduction of his stipend and explained that he received the stipend because his "duties were well beyond those of the ordinary teacher." (ECF No. 29-7) . The parties dispute that point, and Defendant maintains that Plaintiff's schedule was not longer than other teachers. (ECF No. 29-4, at 5). Nonetheless, the parties agree that Plaintiff received half the expected stipend amount.

         On August 28, 2015, Plaintiff met with Mr. Katchko to discuss an increase in concerns regarding his course during the previous school year. (ECF No. 32-5).

         On September 30, 2015, Plaintiff met with Messrs. Marinacci and McCaul to discuss performance issues from the 2014-2015 school year and the creation of a Performance Improvement Plan ("PIP") to assist Plaintiff in his efforts to address the identified issues. (ECF No. 26-7; ECF No. 26-8).

         On October 2, 2015, Plaintiff e-mailed Messrs. Day and Marinacci to say that he "may need to go on medical leave at some point" because he was "having increasing difficulty functioning[.]" (ECF No. 26-20).

         During the fall, Plaintiff made an arithmetic error on a purchase order for the business office. Plaintiff asked his coworker to double check his arithmetic to eliminate errors. Defendant offered an Excel program with an addition formula to assist Plaintiff with this task. Defendant explained how to "increase the size and change the contrast to help with vision." (ECF No. 29-4, at 10) .

         In October or November of 2015, Plaintiff assisted Ms. Thielen with one of her classes and instructed the drum section separately. When the students' focus lagged, Plaintiff discussed locking them in the music room until they got it right and discussed tasers with the students. (ECF No. 29-2, at 22-25) . The parties disagree about the nature of this conversation. Plaintiff maintains that his comments were jokes, (ECF No. 29-13 at 2), and Defendant characterizes them in a more serious manner.

         Plaintiff received the PIP on December 3, 2015. (ECF No. 26-8) . On December 18, 2015, Plaintiff met with Allison Panowitz, the Human Resources Manager for Defendant, and "expressed vague claims of workplace harassment and discrimination." (ECF No. 26-22) .

         The Human Resources Department completed its investigation in January 2016 and informed Plaintiff that it found no evidence of discrimination. (ECF No. 26-22).

         In January 2016, Ms. Thielen provided evaluations to her students and asked how they thought she could improve the class. Some of the evaluations referenced Plaintiff's earlier comments about locking the ...

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