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Winn v. Cleburne Independent School District

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

January 2, 2020

KALA WINN, Plaintiff,
v.
CLEBURNE INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          ADA BROWN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court is Defendant Cleburne Independent School District's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint (Doc. No. 9). For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS in part and DENIES in part the motion to dismiss.

         Background

         The following allegations are taken from plaintiff Kala Winn's First Amended Complaint. Cleburne Independent School District (CISD) hired Winn in 2011; Winn taught ESL and English classes and, in 2014, became head softball coach at Cleburne High School. She received “excellent observations and summatives over the years.” However, Winn alleges she was subjected to “a difference in treatment and discriminated against because she is a female” after Le'Ann Downs became Cleburne High School principal in 2016.

         In August 2017, Winn was required to teach more classes than the male coaches and, unlike male coaches, had to teach at both the high school and the middle school. Winn “tried to clear up the schedule issues” with her supervisor Mark Walker, who told her to contact Downs. After Winn complained about the unfair schedule, Downs and Walker called her into an August 25, 2017 meeting, during which Downs told Winn not to call the United Educators Association and that Winn did not want to make Walker, Walker's wife, or the CISD superintendent “mad.” Downs also asked if Winn wanted to lose her job. Winn alleges it was clear the meeting was “meant to warn her about making complaints about the schedule or other issues.” After the meeting, Downs attempted to intimidate Winn by walking through Winn's class and asking Winn's husband about “things [Winn] said in the meeting.”

         In September 2017, Winn received a letter showing her salary within the 0-5-year pay scale despite the fact she was a seven-year CISD employee. She also worked twelve days over her 187-day contract without pay. Winn alleges a salary spreadsheet shows male teachers were paid according to or above their experience level and were offered stipends and other incentives for work beyond the 187-day contract.

         In November 2017, Winn made a formal complaint about her unfair pay; thereafter, Downs began to scrutinize her more than male coaches and teachers. On December 18, 2017, Winn was called into a meeting to discuss an email Winn had sent. Although she did not receive a formal write-up at the end of the meeting, she received a write-up in January 2018. Downs said Winn was written up for asking to be excused from the meeting to call the attorney representing her in a union grievance. Winn alleges the following conduct also occurred in January 2018: (1) Downs sent Winn an email for not taking attendance within five minutes of class starting when, at the time, Winn had been helping a wheelchair-bound special needs student to class; (2) there were five different “walk-throughs” of Winn's classes by Downs and other administrators; (3) Downs sent Winn an email about an issue with keys; (4) assistant principal Rina Ramos was told to warn Winn about praying at school; and (5) Downs sent Winn an email about a grade missing for one student.

         Winn also alleges she was treated differently than male employees when it came to complaints, investigations and administrative leave. On February 23, 2018, Winn was placed on administrative leave for a parent complaint, but she was never told the substance of the complaint. Conversely, when several female students complained a male coach made inappropriate comments and touched them inappropriately, he was neither placed on administrative leave nor investigated.

         In February 2018, Winn was demoted from her head coaching position and replaced by Paul Chavez, a male.

         Winn asserts claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 against CISD, alleging unlawful employment practices on the basis of sex. CISD previously moved to dismiss Winn's original complaint, and Winn responded by filing an amended complaint (Doc. Nos. 7 & 8). CISD now has filed its second motion to dismiss, asserting the majority of allegations in Winn's amended complaint remain unchanged and her claims should be dismissed (Doc. No. 9).

         Legal Standard

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), a complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Rule 12(b)(6) authorizes a court to dismiss a plaintiff's complaint for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Id. 12(b)(6). In considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, “[t]he court accepts all well-pleaded facts as true, viewing them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” In re Katrina Canal Breaches Litig., 495 F.3d 191, 205 (5th Cir. 2007). “The court's review is limited to the complaint, any documents attached to the complaint, and any documents attached to the motion to dismiss that are central to the claim and referenced by the complaint.” Lone Star Fund V (U.S.), L.P. v. Barclays Bank PLC, 594 F.3d 383, 387 (5th Cir. 2010) (citation omitted)).

         To survive a motion to dismiss, a plaintiff must plead “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). “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). A claim i s facially plausible if the plaintiff “pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. “The plausibility standard . . . asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id. Thus, a claim “is implausible on its face when ‘the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of ...


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