United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Western Division
OPINION AND ORDER
WEBBER WRIGHT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Carter brings this action against the Pulaski County Special
School District (District) alleging employment discrimination
based on her race, African-American, in violation of Title
VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e
et seq., and the Equal Protection Clause of the
Fourteenth Amendment pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Before the Court is a motion of the District for summary
judgment [doc.#12]. Carter has responded in opposition to the
District's motion and the District has replied to
Carter's response. For the reasons that follow, the Court
grants the District's motion for summary
is a math teacher at the District's Joe T. Robinson High
School (Robinson) where she also served as the coach for the
cheer and dance teams. Carter's supplemental cheerleading
and dance team contract was for an annual salary of $2,
March 28, 2017, Robinson Principal Mary Carolyn Bailey, who
is white, recommended to the District Superintendent Dr.
Jerry Guess, also white, that Carter's supplemental
contract for her coaching duties not be renewed for the
2017-2018 school year, citing three reasons: (1) lack of
participation over the previous two years; (2) inappropriate
cheer routines at sporting events; and (3) inappropriate
behavior of cheerleaders during out-of-town travel.
April 18, 2017, Dr. Guess recommended the non-renewal of
Carter's supplemental contract in a notice letter to
Carter. This letter was based on the recommendation of Bailey
and stated that the reason for this action was
“conduct unbecoming a professional
employee, ” namely:
1. There has been a lack of participation on the cheerleading
squad and dance teams at Robinson High for the last two
years. For the 2015-2016 school year, thirteen (13) students
tried out for the cheerleading squad and fourteen (14)
students tried out for the Dance Team. For the 2016-2017
school year, eleven (11) students tried out for the
cheerleading squad and nine (9) students tried out for the
Dance Team. Try-outs for the 2016-2018 [sic] school year have
not been held yet, but several girls have indicated they will
not be trying out.
2. Parents have complained about you allowing the
cheerleaders to perform what they consider to be an
inappropriate cheer routine at sporting events.
3. Last year, Ms. Bailey received phone calls from witnesses
alleging that the cheerleaders were very disorderly and
combative to the staff at Chicken Express in Conway during
travel for an out of town game. The witnesses also stated you
did nothing to calm them down.
requested a hearing on the recommended non-renewal of her
supplemental contract before the District School Board,
pursuant to the Arkansas Teacher Fair Dismissal Act. A
hearing was held on August 8, 2017, wherein the Board
accepted Dr. Guess's recommendation to not renew
Carter's supplemental contract.
Carter's amended complaint her sole claim for race
discrimination against the District is that a
similarly-situated white cheerleading coach during the
2012-2013 school year, Amber Populis, had allowed the cheer
team to perform inappropriate routines of which Carter
complained, and that her complaints were not taken seriously.
initial recommendation to not renew Carter's supplemental
contract came from Bailey, who states she could recall no
complaints regarding Populis's performance as the cheer
coach, as described by Carter, during the 2012-2013 school
year. At the time of the alleged misconduct by Populis,
Bailey was the interim principal.
Carter's supplemental contract was not renewed for the
cheer and dance teams, she was replaced with Candace Johnson,
also an African-American woman. No one replaced Carter as
dance coach, as all dance teams in the District were
alleges her supplemental contract was not renewed because of
her race. Carter's teaching contract remained intact ...