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Normore v. Dallas Independent School District

United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division

May 21, 2019

TERRY L. NORMORE, Plaintiff,
v.
DALLAS INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT; AND DWAIN SIMMONS, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          David C. Godbey, United States District Judge

         This Order addresses Defendants Dwain Simmons and Dallas Independent School District's (“DISD”) motions to dismiss [13] [14]. For the reasons stated below, the Court denies Simmons' motion entirely, but grants DISD's motion in part.

         I. Origins of the Dispute

         Terry Normore used to teach English at DISD's L.G. Pinkston High School (“Pinkston”). She is 57 years old. In addition to teaching English, Normore was heavily involved in Pinkston's female athletics program. She coached girls basketball, girls track and field, and served as the school's Assistant Athletic Director.

         During her tenure, Normore believed that the facilities for female athletes at Pinkston were inferior to those Pinkston provided for males and that DISD provided to other schools. In 2011, she began having conversations with other Pinkston and DISD officials about the disparity. She claims these discussions were not fruitful. She nevertheless continued her efforts with Simmons when he was named Principal at Pinkston in 2014.

         Normore claims, however, that Simmons was particularly unreceptive towards her complaints and funding requests. She claims that he treated her more unfairly than he did her male colleagues in a number of ways. Tension between the two reached a boiling point in April 2016. Normore requested funding for gym equipment intended for female athletes, and asked permission to turn an unused room into a makeshift female workout facility. She claims that Derwin Dukes, Pinkston's Athletic Director at the time, gave her permission to take over the unused room. Normore then began preparing the space by painting the room.

         Simmons claims he was unaware of Normore's intentions to paint the room. When he found out the next day, he informed Normore over email that she had violated policy by not requesting his permission and removed her from her position as Assistant Athletic Director.

         In July, Normore filed an original grievance against Simmons, claiming that the removal was discriminatory and retaliatory. She amended the grievance in August to add various Title IX allegations. In September, DISD began investigating the claim, ultimately exonerating Simmons. In response, Normore filed a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights in December. Her complaint was quickly referred to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”).

         While the EEOC investigated her claim, Normore attended Pinkston's athletic banquet in May 2017. Defendants claim that Normore and Dukes got into an argument at the banquet that ended with Normore punching Dukes in the chest. After Dukes reported the incident, DISD placed Normore on leave and instructed Simmons to investigate the allegation. Simmons concluded that the allegations were credible, and recommended that Normore be terminated. Normore appealed the recommendation, but the Texas Commission of Education upheld the decision.

         Normore then filed suit in this Court. She raises the following individual claims against DISD: (1) hostile work environment and retaliation claims under Title IX, (2) sex-based discrimination and retaliation, and hostile work environment claims under Tile VII, (3) age-based discrimination and retaliation, and hostile work environment claims under the Age Discrimination Employment Act (“ADEA”), and (4) a civil rights claim under 42 U.S.C. §1983. She also raises First and Fourteenth Amendment claims against Simmons directly, and a class action ADEA claim against DISD. Simmons and DISD now move to dismiss these claims under Federal Rule of Procedure 12(b)(6).

         II. Legal Standard on Motion to Dismiss

         When considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a court must determine whether the plaintiff has asserted a legally sufficient claim for relief. Blackburn v. City of Marshall, 42 F.3d 925, 931 (5th Cir. 1995). A viable complaint must include “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). To meet this “facial plausibility” standard, a plaintiff must “plead[] factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). A court generally accepts well-pleaded facts as true and construes the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Gines v. D.R. Horton, Inc., 699 F.3d 812, 816 (5th Cir. 2012). But a plaintiff must provide “more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (internal citations omitted). “Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level . . . on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact).” Id. (internal citations omitted).

         III. The Court Denies Simmons' Motion

         Simmons argues that Normore's claims fail for four reasons: (1) her claims against Simmons are redundant of her claims against DISD; (2) Simmons is protected by qualified immunity; (3) her claims are time-barred; and (4) Normore generally ...


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