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Doyer v. RSU 16

United States District Court, District of Maine

April 24, 2014

ROXANNE DOYER, pro se, Plaintiff,
v.
RSU 16, et al., Defendants.

ROXANNE DOYER, ROXANNE DOYER PRO SE.

Defendant RSU 16, MICHAEL L. BUESCHER DRUMMOND WOODSUM ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICED.

DENNIS DUQUETTE, MICHAEL L. BUESCHER ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICED.

RECOMMENDED DECISION ON MOTION TO DISMISS

John C. Nivison, U.S. Magistrate Judge.

This matter arises out of Plaintiff Roxanne Doyer’s employment with Defendant Regional School Unit 16 (RSU 16). RSU 16 and its former superintendent, Defendant Dennis Duquette (Defendant Duquette), move for partial dismissal of Plaintiff’s claims. The Court has subject matter jurisdiction based on the presence of federal claims.[1]

After a review of the pleadings, and based on the parties’ arguments and the analysis offered below, it is recommended that the Court grant in part and deny in part Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 4).[2]

Factual Background

The facts set forth herein are derived from Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint, which facts are deemed true when evaluating the Motion to Dismiss.[3] The facts may also be informed by the many exhibits attached to Plaintiff’s original complaint. Freeman v. Town of Hudson, 714 F.3d 29, 35 (1st Cir. 2013) (“On a motion to dismiss, a court ordinarily may only consider facts alleged in the complaint and exhibits attached thereto[.]”).

RSU 16 (formerly School Union 29) employed Plaintiff as an education technician III and communication aide between 2003 and 2009. During that time, Defendant Duquette was RSU 16’s superintendent. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 1-4.) RSU 16 employed Plaintiff to work with Plaintiff’s disabled daughter, on a one-to-one basis, until the daughter attended high school. While Plaintiff was employed in the school, teachers in the school system and Plaintiff’s supervisors consistently reviewed Plaintiff’s performance positively. (Id. ¶¶ 13-15.) At the time that Plaintiff worked with her special needs daughter in the middle school, Plaintiff’s two older daughters attended the RSU 16 high school. (Id. ¶ 16.)

At some point during her employment, Plaintiff became a vocal critic of the high school grading system and met with Defendant Duquette and the high school’s principal to voice her concerns. (Id.) After a meeting on September 10, 2008, Defendant Duquette followed Plaintiff into the school parking lot, and told Plaintiff that if she valued her employment she should be careful. (Id.) The next day, Plaintiff forwarded Defendant Duquette a petition requesting that Defendant Duquette include the topic on the agenda for a public discussion. (Id. ¶ 17.) Defendant Duquette later questioned Plaintiff in the school setting as to whether she wanted to proceed with her request, blocked her passage through doorways, and displayed angry behavior toward her. (Id. ¶ 18.)

In October 2008, Defendant Duquette informed Plaintiff that she could no longer participate in the “Vision Keepers” program, described as a public forum meeting, at the high school. (Id. ¶¶ 19-20.) Plaintiff asserts that Defendant Duquette called her at home, harassed her at the school and at school committee meetings, and stopped her in school parking lots. Plaintiff sought assistance from the middle school principal, who stated that Defendant Duquette would no longer stop her during the work day. (Id. ¶¶ 21-23.) Defendant Duquette knew of the complaints that Plaintiff made to the middle school principal. (Id. ¶ 24.) On March 9, 2009, Plaintiff filed a complaint with the Maine Human Rights Commission, in which complaint Plaintiff alleged harassment, retaliation, and discrimination by Defendant Duquette. (Id. ¶ 25.)

On March 23, 2009, Plaintiff applied for a position as the high school’s cheering coach. (Id. ¶ 26.) In response to the application, the high school athletic director informed Plaintiff in writing that someone else had the job. (Id. ¶ 27.) Plaintiff subsequently noted that the position was posted on two other occasions, in September and again in October. She pursued the job both times, but was told by the athletic director that the position was filled. (Id. ¶¶ 28-31.) In November 2009, Plaintiff raised the matter at a school committee meeting. Defendant Duquette, in an angry tone and with a red face, told Plaintiff that she would never work at the high school because she did not get along with the administrators. Plaintiff maintains that Defendant Duquette’s statements are defamatory. (Id. ¶¶ 33-34.) Plaintiff also complains that her application letters-including the application for the cheering coach position and for an education technician position assigned to her daughter-and RSU 16’s responsive correspondence declining to hire her were never placed in her employment file. (Id. ¶¶ 35-36.)

At a meeting in March 2010, Defendant Duquette informed Plaintiff that she would not be transitioning into the high school as an education technician, and that the decision had nothing to do with her work performance. Pressed by Plaintiff to state the reason for the decision, Defendant Duquette told Plaintiff that she would receive his explanation in writing, and declared the meeting closed. (Id. ¶¶ 42-43.) Plaintiff subsequently received a letter informing her that she would not continue as an education technician for her daughter, but she could apply if another education technician job opened. (Id. ¶ 44.) Plaintiff demanded reasons for the termination of her employment, and asserted her union rights to recall. In response, Defendant Duquette later informed Plaintiff that her employment was not terminated, and that she would receive an education technician assignment, but not a position in the high school. (Id. ¶¶ 45-46.)

In the summer of 2010, the anticipated high school special education program for Plaintiff’s daughter was the subject of a due process hearing. At that hearing, Defendant Duquette described Plaintiff as a bully, difficult to work ...


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