United States District Court, District of Columbia
L. FRIEDMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on defendant District of
Columbia's motion [Dkt. No. 75] to dismiss plaintiff
Kenneth Dickerson's fourth amended complaint, filed April
12, 2018. Mr. Dickerson filed his opposition to the motion on
May 10, 2018, and the District of Columbia filed a reply
brief on May 24, 2018. For the following reasons, the Court
will deny the District of Columbia's motion to
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Court begins by setting forth the facts alleged in the fourth
amended complaint. Mr. Dickerson, an African-American man,
began his employment with the District of Columbia Public
Schools (“DCPS”) as a teacher in 1993.
See 4th Am. Compl. at ¶¶ 1, 6. In 1999, he
was assigned to work at Wilson Senior High School
(“Wilson”) and promoted to serve as the Dean of
Students at Wilson. See id. at ¶ 6. In 2000,
DCPS again promoted Mr. Dickerson, this time to a position as
an assistant principal at Wilson. See id. Mr.
Dickerson served in the assistant principal role until June
2008. See id. at ¶¶ 6, 17. During his time
as a school administrator at Wilson, Mr. Dickerson explains
that he simultaneously performed his job responsibilities as
Dean of Students, assistant principal, and music teacher.
See id. at ¶ 6.
Dickerson asserts that, in light of his “years of
service, administrative leadership and experience, [and]
education, including his soon-to-be PhD status, ” he
was well-qualified to serve as a school administrator and
“satisfied any and all Defendants' documented
objectives for hiring, keeping and promoting qualified DCPS
employees.” See 4th Am. Compl. at ¶ 23.
Mr. Dickerson further notes that he received ratings of
“Exceeds Expectations” in his annual performance
evaluations for both the 2005-06 and 2006-07 school years.
See id. at ¶ 10. He also describes how, under
his leadership, Wilson gained significant recognition for its
students' academic achievements, despite a lack of
faculty and other school resources. See id. at
¶¶ 14-15. During the 2007-08 school year, for
example, Wilson was “ranked in the top 1% of all high
schools, nationwide on student performance on advance
placement testing.” See id. at ¶ 15.
in the 2007-08 school year, Mr. Dickerson describes several
events evincing unfair and unfavorable treatment by his
employer. First, Mr. Dickerson asserts that he was offered a
position as a school principal in May 2008, but at a salary
“far less” than the salaries offered to other new
principals, despite his performance and qualifications.
See 4th Am. Compl. at ¶ 16. In response to this
offer, Mr. Dickerson alleges that he “pointed out the
obvious unfairness in such an offer and turned it
down.” See id. Although he rejected this offer
to be promoted to school principal, Mr. Dickerson asserts
that he communicated his intent to remain in his assistant
principal position by following established DCPS policies.
See id. at ¶¶ 12-13. He explains that, as
part of its “annual reappointment contractual process,
” DCPS would send a Declaration of Intent
(“DOI”) form to every school administrator each
spring. See id. at ¶ 12. An administrator who
did not intend to return to her current position would convey
that intent by signing and submitting the DOI form. See
id. On the other hand, if an administrator did not sign
and return the DOI form by the deadline, that omission
represented “a commitment to return to the
administrator's current position.” See id.
By not signing and returning the DOI form by the deadline,
Mr. Dickerson represents that he “confirmed his
acceptance, commitment and expectation to remain in the
Assistant Principal position at Wilson SHS for the 2008-2009
SY.” See id. at ¶ 13.
addition, Mr. Dickerson alleges that during the 2007-08
school year, DCPS failed to administer multiple required
evaluations of his performance. See 4th Am. Compl.
at ¶¶ 9, 11. First, he points to the
“systemic evaluation processes for school
administrators” established under the District of
Columbia's Municipal Regulations (“DCMR”) and
the relevant Collective Bargaining Agreement
(“CBA”), which he argues “required
pre-conference, mid-year and annual end-of-year
evaluations.” See id. at ¶ 9. During the
2007-08 school year, however, he asserts that DCPS never
administered any of these required performance evaluations.
See id. Second, Mr. Dickerson alleges that, in late
2007, DCPS officials notified him that Chancellor Michelle
Rhee's office would “evaluate and rank school
officials at the end of the academic year based on
students' reading and mathematics test scores,
attendance, and improvement in various other academic and
scholastic areas.” See id. at ¶ 11. But,
he asserts, DCPS also failed to conduct these evaluations.
Dickerson represents that, on or about June 24, 2008, he
received notification that DCPS “would not be
reappointing him to his Assistant Principal position at
Wilson SHS, effective June 30, 2008.” See 4th
Am. Compl. at ¶ 17. He states that DCPS did not provide
any explanation for his non-reappointment, beyond indicating
that Chancellor Rhee had made the decision. See id.
On June 30, 2008, Mr. Dickerson explains, he was
“removed” from his administrative role. See
to receiving his non-reappointment notice, Mr. Dickerson
alleges that DCPS's “employees and agents
surreptitiously interviewed and engaged replacements for his
soon-to-be vacant position at Wilson SHS, ” in
violation of provisions of both the DCMR and CBA that require
“vacancies . . . [to] be listed so that all have
knowledge of the vacancy.” See 4th Am. Compl.
at ¶ 21. Mr. Dickerson further asserts that
“Chancellor Rhee and her staff made public statements
to the media which defended its non-reappointment of
Plaintiff due to laziness, failure to improve the statistical
performance and mistreatment of students at Wilson, ”
although “[n]one of these described characterizations
applied to Plaintiff's professional career or his tenure
at Wilson SHS in any capacity.” See id. at
¶ 19. Mr. Dickerson alleges that his former colleagues
who were white and similarly situated were not subjected to
the same treatment he received. See id. at ¶
20. And while “the Chancellor's office removed
Plaintiff and the other African-American administrators,
” DCPS hired a white woman with less education and
experience to fill Mr. Dickerson's former position as
Senior Assistant Principal, hired a white man to fill the
vacant Wilson principal position, and hired a Hispanic man
with less experience and education than Mr. Dickerson to fill
an unspecified position. See id. at ¶ 24.
30, 2009, Mr. Dickerson and twenty-one other former DCPS
principals and assistant principals filed this discrimination
lawsuit in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.
See Removal Notice Ex. 1. The District of Columbia
removed the case to this Court on November 20, 2009,
see Removal Notice, where the parties have proceeded
to litigate since. After nearly a decade of litigation, every
other plaintiff has either settled with the District of
Columbia or been dismissed by the Court for failing to
prosecute their claims. See Dismissal Notice; Order
[Dkt. No. 69] (Jan. 25, 2018). As the sole remaining
plaintiff, Mr. Dickerson filed the fourth amended complaint
on March 13, 2018, alleging discrimination in violation of
Section 1981 of Title 42 of the United States Code.
See 4th Am. Compl. Specifically, Mr. Dickerson
alleges that DCPS, by breaching the terms of his existing
employment contract and failing to reappoint or promote him,
violated his rights under Section 1981 to make and enforce
contracts free from racial discrimination. See id.
at ¶¶ 33-37.
12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allows
dismissal of a complaint if a plaintiff fails “to state
a claim upon which relief can be granted.” See
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Generally, under Rule 8 of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure, a plaintiff need only provide
“a short and plain statement of the claim showing that
the pleader is entitled to relief” that “give[s]
the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the
grounds upon which it rests.” See Bell
Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting
Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). Although
“detailed factual allegations” are not necessary
to withstand a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the complaint
“must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as
true, ‘to state a claim to relief that is plausible on
its face.'” See Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 570); see also
Henok v. Kessler, 78 F.Supp.3d 452, 457 (D.D.C. 2015).
“A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff
pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” In re Interbank Funding Corp.
Sec. Litig., 629 F.3d 213, 218 (D.C. Cir. 2010) (quoting
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678).
deciding a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court
“must accept as true all of the factual allegations
contained in the complaint.” See Swierkiewicz v.
Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 508 n.1 (2002) (citation
omitted); see also Henok v. Kessler, 78 F.Supp.3d at
457. The Court considers the complaint in its entirety,
seeTellabs, Inc. v. Makor Issues & Rights,
Ltd., 551 U.S. 308, 322 (2007), and construes it
“liberally in the plaintiffs' favor, ”
see Kowal v. MCI Commc'ns Corp., 16 F.3d 1271,
1276 (D.C. Cir. 1994); see alsoHettinga v.
United States, 677 F.3d 471, 476 (D.C. Cir. 2012). The
Court must grant a plaintiff “the benefit of all
inferences that can be derived from the facts alleged,
” although it need not accept plaintiff's legal