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Adair v. Wichita Public Schools Unified School District No. 259

United States District Court, D. Kansas

April 22, 2015

EZEKIEL ADAIR, Plaintiff,
v.
WICHITA PUBLIC SCHOOLS UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT No. 259, ET AL., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

ERIC F. MELGREN, District Judge.

Plaintiff Ezekiel Adair brings suit against his former employer, Wichita Public Schools Unified School District 259 ("USD 259"), as well as several employees of USD 259. He asserts defamation and employment discrimination claims. Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 19). For the reasons stated below, Defendants' motion is granted in part and denied in part.

I. Factual and Procedural Background[1]

Pro se Plaintiff Ezekiel Adair filed a form Complaint, with an attached eight-page typed complaint, against Defendant USD 259; Leroy Parks, Principal of Wichita Southeast High School; and Christopher Asmussen, Teacher and Head Football Coach of Wichita Southeast High School. In Plaintiff's "individual statement" in his Complaint, he contends that Defendants targeted and harassed him. Plaintiff asserts that when he tried to work and express his feelings about Defendants' behaviors, he was retaliated against and wrongfully terminated and demoted. After Plaintiff's employment with Defendant USD 259, he claims that there was continued slander and defamation. Plaintiff also states that Defendants created a hostile work environment that affected his health and wellness.

In Plaintiff's "factual allegations, " he claims that USD 259 hired him as para-educator at Wilbur Middle School in early January 2012. In early January 2013, Plaintiff was hired by USD 259 at Southeast High School as ISSR Coordinator and an assistant coach. During the summer of 2013, Plaintiff alleges that he was "exposed to Un-intentional discrimination."[2]

On September 6, 2013, Plaintiff states that during a varsity football game, he was "cussed and yelled at by head coach Asmussen" and an assistant coach. This incident occurred in front of football players, parents, and staff. On September 11, 2013, Plaintiff contends that during a meeting with Mr. Parks, he verbally abused Plaintiff and scolded him about his "accountability, job performance, honesty, and trust worthiness."[3] Plaintiff claims that he was given his first suspension at the end of this meeting which was against USD 259 policies and procedures.

On September 12, 2013, Plaintiff contends that Coach Asmussen reduced Plaintiff's duties. On September 16, 2013, Plaintiff met with Mr. Parks about a letter that Plaintiff wrote him. In this letter, Plaintiff alleges that he "had coaching concerns (racial slurs, comments, isolation and discrimination)."[4] Plaintiff believed that Mr. Parks stepped out of his professional boundaries and that he "defame[d] and slander[ed] plaintiff in a document he submitted changing my statements."[5] He also alleges that Mr. Parks did not address his concerns in the letter.

On September 27, 2013, Plaintiff met with Mr. Parks about documentation that had been submitted by Ms. Brown, the assistant principal. Plaintiff claims that this documentation was false and that Mr. Parks continued his verbal abuse by yelling at him. Plaintiff states that Mr. Parks seized Plaintiff's school keys and placed him on suspension. Southeast High School security, as well as the Wichita Police Department, was called. The Wichita Police Department escorted Plaintiff off the premises in front of students and co-workers. Plaintiff then spoke with his union representative about harassment charges.

On October 1, 2013, Plaintiff met with Mr. Parks, Mr. Fulton, Ms. Brown, and a union representative. Mr. Parks submitted a document and Plaintiff disagreed with certain information in that document, including statements that made it seem as though Plaintiff was a rude and defiant employee and that Plaintiff was insubordinate and argumentative on September 27. Plaintiff responded in writing to Mr. Parks' documentation.

On October 11, 2013, the parties met for the last time. Plaintiff states that Mr. Parks apologized for his behavior but inexplicably still placed Plaintiff on a ninety day probationary period, with the ability to be terminated for work-related issues. Plaintiff returned to work on October 15 and states that it was a chaotic and hostile day because teachers and students questioned his leave of absence. Plaintiff claims this environment continued for the next several weeks. In addition, Plaintiff asserts that he heard that his coaching position was filled by other individuals.

Plaintiff resigned on October 25, 2013. His last day of employment was November 8, 2013. Plaintiff contends that Mr. Parks gave negative information to the Kansas Department of Unemployment, as well as to potential employers, after his departure.

Plaintiff filed an EEOC charge on May 20, 2014, alleging discrimination on the basis of race, color, and retaliation. Plaintiff's Dismissal and Notice of Rights letter is dated May 22, 2014. Plaintiff filed suit on June 16, 2014. In his Complaint, he appears to assert two causes of action. He alleges as the first cause of action:

The defendant is claimed to have violated school district policies and procedures with the mistreatment of the plaintiff. The defendant submitted false documents, untrue statements and would go as far as defaming the character of the plaintiff. The defendant demoted, bullied, ridiculed, harassed and humiliated the ...

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