United States District Court, District of Columbia
ROSEMARY M. COLLYER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Camilla Younger was employed by the District of Columbia
Public Schools (DCPS) as an art teacher and attendance
officer for over eighteen years. In 2010, she was discharged
after she allegedly failed to disclose that she continued to
hold a part-time, evening, teaching position at Roosevelt
Senior Alternative High School (Roosevelt STAY) while on
medical leave from her full-time teaching position at Woodson
Ninth Grade Academy at Ron Brown Middle School. After the
Court granted, in part, Defendants' motion to dismiss,
see Memorandum Opinion [Dkt. 33], only Ms.
Younger's claims of age discrimination under the Age
Discrimination in Employment Act, 19 U.S.C. §§ 621
et seq. (2012) (ADEA) and retaliation under the
District of Columbia Whistleblower Protection Act, D.C. Code
§ 1-615.53 (2012) (DCWPA) remain. DCPS now moves for
summary judgment on the remaining claims, arguing that the
undisputed facts show that Ms. Younger's termination and
the denial of her request to transfer to a new school were
not a result of age discrimination or retaliation. For the
reasons set forth below, the Court will grant summary
judgment to DCPS on Ms. Younger's retaliation claims and
on her claim that Principal Darrin Slade discriminated
against her when he terminated her, but will deny summary
judgment on Ms. Younger's claim of age discrimination
when Principal Williams-Minor denied, or withdrew, an offer
to transfer Ms. Younger to a new school.
Younger served DCPS as a dual-certified art teacher and
attendance officer from 1992 to 2010. She holds a Bachelor of
Fine Arts degree in Art Education and a Master's degree
in Administration and Supervision. Am. Compl. [Dkt. 2] ¶
20. Prior to the 2008-2009 school year, Ms. Younger taught
full-time at the Woodson Senior High School (WSHS).
Id. ¶ 34. Starting in 2007, Ms. Younger was
also a part-time evening art teacher at Roosevelt STAY. Ex.
1, Mot. for SJ, Deposition of Camilla Younger [Dkt. 58-1] at
93:8-11 (Younger Dep.). After the 2007-2008 school year, WSHS
was closed and the students were transferred to temporary
locations. Am. Compl. ¶ 34. Ms. Younger asked to be
transferred to the temporary high school location, but was
instead moved to Woodson Ninth Grade Academy, located inside
Ron Brown Middle School. Id.
Younger's experience at Woodson Ninth Grade Academy was
not ideal. Ms. Younger alleges that the combined Ron
Brown/Woodson school was “unsafe, overcrowded, hostile,
unbearable[, ] . . . school violence increase[d] daily (kids
fighting daily, violence against teachers, destruction of
property, fires . . .), ” and that she did not receive
the institutional support necessary to teach students
effectively. Id. ¶ 37. Ms. Younger describes
multiple instances of physical altercations with students
during the 2008-2009 school year, see id.
¶¶ 39-40, and states that she submitted incident
reports to DCPS regarding these events. Id. ¶
40. Although she reported the incidents to her supervisors,
the solutions were not satisfactory, in that offending
students were merely removed from her classroom for a few
days. Id. ¶¶ 39-40.
end of the 2008-2009 school year, when DCPS teachers could
apply to transfer to new schools, Ms. Younger applied and was
accepted for a position at another school. Id.
¶ 41. However, Darrin Slade, Principal of Woodson Ninth
Grade Academy, convinced Ms. Younger to return to Woodson
Ninth Grade Academy and assured her that he would authorize
an immediate transfer if her working conditions did not
Younger states that her working conditions worsened in the
next school year. On September 1, 2009, she was
“physically assaulted and injured by special education
high school students with varied learning disabilities and
emotional problems [who] . . . [ran] over [her] at the door,
[and knocked] [her] to the floor, ” causing injuries
that required her to take medical leave. Id. ¶
42; see also Ex. 2, Mot. for SJ [Dkt. 58-1] (Sept.
1, 2009 Report of Injury). In a memorandum dated September
30, 2009, Ms. Younger was informed of “Classroom
Management Concerns” raised by Principal Slade,
including failing to keep students occupied and engaged
during the class period and failing to “maintain
appropriate disciplinary data.” Ex. 3, Mot. for SJ
[Dkt. 58-1] at 1 (Sept. 30, 2009 Slade Memo). Ms. Younger
states that she asked Principal Slade for an immediate
transfer and applied for workers' compensation following
the September 1, 2009 altercation with the hope of receiving
a reasonable accommodation that would allow her to continue
working at Woodson Ninth Grade Academy. Am. Compl.
¶¶ 43-44. In early October 2009, Ms. Younger
stopped reporting for work at Woodson Ninth Grade Academy,
see Ex. 4, Mot. for SJ [Dkt. 58-1] at 1 (DCPS
Response to Request for Information); Younger Dep.
262:15-263:4, but she continued to teach at Roosevelt STAY
during the evening. See DCPS Response to Request for
Information at 2. Ms. Younger did not return to the Woodson
Ninth Grade Academy for the remainder of the 2009-2010 school
the summer of 2010, Ms. Younger interviewed with several DCPS
principals for a new position. Among those with whom she
talked was Tanisia Williams-Minor, Principal at the Youth
Engagement Academy. Am. Compl. ¶ 45. Ms. Younger alleges
that after her interview with Principal Williams-Minor,
was offered a part-time position as art teacher at the Youth
Engagement Academy and was introduced to the Assistant
Principal as Principal Williams-Minor's “new art
teacher.” Id. Ms. Younger further alleges that
she and Principal Williams-Minor met on multiple occasions to
discuss the position and at the last of these meetings
Principal Williams-Minor asked for the spelling of Ms.
Younger's name, her address, and her date of birth to
complete various personnel forms. Id. Ms. Younger
alleges that “[w]hen [she] gave [Principal
Williams-Minor] [her] date of birth she was noticeably
shocked, breathless (she place[d] her hand over her heart)
and was speechless, and gasping for breath. Her facial
expression and [demeanor] change[d].” Id.
disagrees, arguing that Ms. Younger was never offered the
position at the Youth Engagement Academy, see DCPS
Response to Request for Information, because Principal
Williams-Minor and the principal from Jefferson Middle School
decided to share a single fulltime art teacher and Ms.
Younger was seeking a part-time position. See Am.
Compl. ¶ 57. Ms. Younger admits that the teacher hired
for the position was full-time to serve both schools, but
alleges that Principal Williams-Minor chose to withdraw her
offer of a transfer because of Ms. Younger's age. See
id. DCPS concedes that the teacher hired to fill the
position was 23 years old (Ms. Younger was 63), but insists
that Principal Williams-Minor's decision was based on the
fact that the Principal had previously worked with the young
art teacher. See DCPS Response to Request for
Information. Because Principal Williams-Minor withdrew, or
did not offer, the position to Ms. Younger and it was too
late to apply to transfer elsewhere, Ms. Younger was unable
to transfer to a new school before the 2010-2011 school year.
Slade learned in August 2010 that Ms. Younger had continued
to teach at Roosevelt STAY during the period she claimed she
was unable to return to Woodson Ninth Grade Academy. On
August 16, 2010, Principal Slade notified Ms. Younger that
she would be terminated effective August 27, 2010.
See Mot. for SJ, Ex. 6 [Dkt. 58-1] (Notice of
exhausting her administrative remedies, and acting pro
se, Ms. Younger filed a Complaint on August 27, 2013,
see Compl. [Dkt. 1], and an Amended Complaint
shortly thereafter, see Am. Compl. [Dkt. 2]. On July
25, 2014, the Court granted in part and denied in part
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, dismissing all claims
except Count 1, alleging that DCPS discriminated against Ms.
Younger due to her age when Principal Williams-Minor withdrew
or refused to grant her a transfer and when Principal Slade
discharged her; and Count 5, alleging that DCPS retaliated
against Ms. Younger for pursuing her workers'
compensation claim. See Memorandum Opinion [Dkt.
33]; Order [Dkt. 34]. DCPS filed a Motion for Summary
Judgment on the remaining claims on May 19, 2016.
See Mot. for SJ [Dkt. 58]. Ms. Younger, through
counsel, opposed, see Opp'n [Dkt. 62], and DCPS
replied. See Reply [Dkt. 65]. The motion is ripe for
Motion for Summary Judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56
Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary
judgment shall be granted “if the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); accord Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247 (1986). Moreover, summary
judgment is properly granted against a party who “after
adequate time for discovery and upon motion . . . fails to
make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an
element essential to that party's case, and on which that
party will bear the burden of proof at trial.”
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).
In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court must
draw all justifiable inferences in the nonmoving party's
favor and accept the nonmoving party's evidence as true.
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. A nonmoving party,
however, must establish more than “the mere existence
of a scintilla of evidence” in support of its position.
Id. at 252. In addition, the nonmoving party may not
rely solely on allegations or conclusory statements.
Greene v. Dalton, 164 F.3d 671, 675 (D.C. Cir.
1999). Rather, the nonmoving party must present specific
facts that would enable a reasonable jury to find in its
favor. Id. If the evidence “is merely
colorable, or is not ...