MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER ON DEFENDANTS'
MOTION TO DISMISS PLAINTIFF'S FIRST AMENDED
M. Lauriat, Justice
plaintiff, Danielle Youngblood (" Youngblood"),
brought this action against the defendants, City of Boston
Public Schools (" BPS"), BPS Superintendent Tommy
Chang (" Chang") and Marco Curnen ("
Curnen") (collectively, " the defendants"),
seeking damages arising from the defendants' purported
retaliation against her in violation of the Massachusetts
Fair Employment Practices Act, G.L.c. 151B, § 4. The
defendants have now moved to dismiss Youngblood's Amended
Complaint pursuant to Mass.R.Civ.P. (12)(b)(6). For the
reasons stated below, the defendants' motion is denied.
following facts are taken from Youngblood's Amended
Complaint and are accepted as true for purposes of deciding
the defendants' motion to dismiss.
Amended Complaint is unclear as to when BPS hired Youngblood,
but indicates she has worked for BPS as a middle school
English Language Arts (" ELA") instructor since at
least the 2007 to 2008 school year, and that she attained
" permanent teacher status"  in September 2010.
For the 2010 to 2011 and 2011 to 2012 school terms, BPS
assigned Youngblood to teach at the McKay School in East
Boston (the " School") where she reported to
Curnen, who was the School's principal.
December 2010, Youngblood informed Curnen that a student,
referred to in the Amended Complaint as John Doe, was
sexually harassing her and had given her a note that stated
she had " a fat butt." Following John Doe's
disciplinary hearing for this incident,  Youngblood
approached Curnen to suggest the School offer "
gender-based learning . . . to provide advisory support to
all students to avoid another sexual harassment
situation." During this conversation, Youngblood also
told Curnen that her male students often asked her questions
that were too personal and disregarded her professional role.
Curnen responded that the problem " probably [came]
from" how Youngblood interacted with her male students.
April 29, 2011, Curnen issued Youngblood a written warning,
which she and the Boston Teacher's Union grieved on May
5, 2011. The Amended Complaint does not describe the facts
alleged in support of this warning, but Youngblood contends
that it was related to " a retaliatory campaign"
Curnen had orchestrated against her following her complaint
about John Doe.
15, 2011, Youngblood reported to Curnen that a male student,
referred to in the Amended Complaint as John Doe #2, had
written her a letter threatening an assault and battery on
her. Curnen allegedly responded by asking Youngblood
why she wanted John Doe #2 to face consequences and
telling Youngblood she should handle the situation herself.
On an unspecified date following this discussion, but prior
to June 23, 2011, Curnen set up a meeting with John Doe #2
and two mediators. The Amended Complaint is unclear as to
whether the meeting was in response to the note John Doe #2
gave Youngblood on June 15, 2011; however, during the
meeting, one of the mediators asked John Doe #2 whether
Youngblood had ever " disrespected him or made him feel
unsafe, " John Doe #2 responded, " no, " and
stated that he had previously given Youngblood a " hard
time" because " she would not allow him to say the
N-word in school."
23, 2011, Curnen completed and issued Youngblood's
first-term evaluation (" Spring 2011 Evaluation").
The Spring 2011 Evaluation stated that Youngblood had not met
BPS standards regarding " safe, respectful, [and]
culturally sensitive and responsive learning communities,
" and that Youngblood focused " on her personal
presence in the classroom as opposed to the relationship
between professional and student." Apparently
referencing the December 2010 incident with John Doe, Curnen
wrote that Youngblood " continue[d] to define one
inappropriate and mistaken decision by one student as
'sexual harassment from a student.'" Prior to
the Spring 2011 Evaluation, Youngblood's evaluations had
consistently ranked her as having " met or
exceeded" all BPS expectations. Her students' ELA
scores on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System
(" MCAS") for the 2010-2011 school year ranked in
the eighty-fourth percentile.
September 2011, Youngblood contacted Curnen about her
application to the Performance Review Program for Initial
Licensure (" PRPIL"). Youngblood alleges that the
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary
Education required her to participate in the PRPIL program,
though the precise consequences of a failure to participate
are unclear. During their conversation, Curnen agreed to sign
the " Principal's Agreement" Youngblood needed
to certify she had Curnen's approval to participate in
the PRPIL program. Curnen also instructed Youngblood to set
up a meeting with him and her prospective
unsuccessfully tried to set up a meeting with Curnen
regarding her PRPIL application throughout the rest of
September, October, and December 2011. Curnen was never able
to confirm a day or time for the PRPIL meeting, but
nonetheless continued to initiate meetings with Youngblood to
share his observations of her classroom.
Thursday, December 1, 2011, Curnen asked Youngblood to send
him certain data about her students, including parent
communication logs and writing samples with grading rubrics
attached, by the following day. Youngblood told Curnen she
would get him the data as soon as possible, but was out sick
the following day. When Youngblood returned on Monday,
December 5, 2011, Curnen approached Youngblood during her
planning period and asked for the data again. Youngblood
responded she needed at least one more day " to put
together a polished presentation, " but Curnen
maintained that he needed the information the same day. When
Youngblood presented the information to Curnen in his office
at the end of the school day, he handed her a preprinted term
evaluation in return (" Fall 2011 Evaluation").
Fall 2011 Evaluation stated Youngblood had not met BPS
standards regarding " equity and high expectations"
and " instructional planning and implementation."
The Amended Complaint states that Curnen " copied and
pasted" prescriptions for improvement, but does not
indicate from where the prescriptions were " copied and
pasted." When Youngblood told her colleagues about the
Fall 2011 Evaluation, they suggested she sign up for a peer
assistance program that Curnen had apparently told
Youngblood's colleagues about, but had never mentioned to
her. Shortly thereafter, Youngblood emailed Curnen and
invited him to observe her classroom so that he could see her
teaching was in accord with the prescriptions set forth in
the Fall 2011 Evaluation, but Curnen did not respond.
a January 20, 2012 post-observation meeting, Youngblood
mentioned a 2011 incident to Curnen where John Doe had
written a letter to her that stated, " Ms. Youngblood
you got a fat butt. Shhh!!!"  Youngblood told Curnen
that the note constituted sexual harassment, that she was
offended as a woman, and that John Doe's conduct was
" hurtful and violating." Curnen agreed that John
Doe had engaged in inappropriate conduct, but told Youngblood
that the behavior did not constitute sexual harassment.
Curnen also told Youngblood that " her primary identity
in the classroom was as a teacher, and her identity of
'womanhood' was secondary."
January 27, 2012, Youngblood informed Curnen that John Doe
had told her she had a " Brazilian bubble butt"
several times that day. Youngblood alleges she repeatedly,
and explicitly stated that she neither felt comfortable nor
safe around John Doe, " and " explicitly requested
that a meeting take place of only men, where [John Doe] would
be provided with a supportive male perspective, who could
support that student's understanding of the necessity of
healthy gender-based interaction." Curnen never arranged
the requested meeting, and allegedly told Youngblood that a
representative from the BPS Equity Office would address her
concerns about John Doe.
January 30, 2012, Youngblood told Curnen that she urgently
needed him to sign the Principal's Agreement so she could
send in her PRPIL application materials. Curnen signed the
agreement, but also noted on the agreement that
Youngblood's performance did not currently meet BPS
standards. Youngblood submitted her PRPIL application the
unspecified time thereafter, Curnen told Youngblood that his
most recent evaluation of her " left him with
reservations." Youngblood responded that she was working
with a " peer assistant" " who had given her
valuable feedback and high marks." Youngblood also told
Curnen her peer assistant had tried to set up a meeting with
him to discuss his or her support for Youngblood's PRPIL
application, but Curnen did not respond to the peer
assistant's emails until just before the application
deadline. Shortly after this conversation,
Youngblood spoke to the director of the PRPIL program, who
asked Youngblood to ask Curnen to call her to confirm his
position on the Principal's Agreement. Youngblood alleges
that Curnen ignored the PRPIL ...