United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
SHARON D. MARTIN, Plaintiff,
SHELBY COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION, et al., Defendants.
MADELINE HUGHES HAIKALA UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Sharon Martin is an interventionist for the Shelby County
Board of Education. In that role, she works with at-risk
students at Vincent Middle High School. In April 2014,
Ms. Martin applied for a registrar/data manager position at
the school. The Board did not select Ms. Martin for the
position. Ms. Martin contends that in making the hiring
decision for the registrar position, the Shelby County Board
of Education, the individual members of the Board, and the
district superintendent discriminated against her because she
is African-American. Ms. Martin asserts a Title VII claim
against the Board and § 1983 claims against the
individual defendants in their individual and official
to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the
defendants ask the Court to enter judgment in their favor on
all of Ms. Martin's claims against them. (Doc. 12). The
parties also ask the Court to strike various evidentiary
submissions. (Docs. 20, 22). For the reasons explained below,
the Court grants the defendants' motion for summary
STANDARD OF REVIEW
court shall grant summary judgment 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). To demonstrate that there is a genuine
dispute as to a material fact that precludes summary
judgment, a party opposing a motion for summary judgment must
cite “to particular parts of materials in the record,
including depositions, documents, electronically stored
information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations
(including those made for purposes of the motion only),
admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A). “The court need consider only
the cited materials, but it may consider other materials in
the record.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(3). When considering a
summary judgment motion, the Court must view the evidence in
the record in the light most favorable to the non-moving
party and draw reasonable inferences in favor of the
non-moving party. White v. Beltram Edge Tool Supply,
Inc., 789 F.3d 1188, 1191 (11th Cir. 2015). In this
opinion, the Court describes the evidence accordingly.
Martin has worked for the Shelby County Board of Education
for nearly 20 years. Ms. Martin received an associate's
degree in computer science in 1988 and worked in computer
programming from approximately 1988 to 1994. (Doc. 12-1, pp.
5, 9-10, 47). In 1999, the Shelby County Board of Education
hired Ms. Martin as a substitute teacher, and she later
became a library aide at Vincent Middle High School. (Doc.
12-1, pp. 12, 58). In 2004, Ms. Martin moved to the
interventionist position at Vincent Middle High School. (Doc.
12-1, pp. 12, 58). She has held that position ever since.
(Doc. 12-1, pp. 13, 58-59).
interventionist, Ms. Martin monitors at-risk students
assigned to in-school detention. She collects the
students' assignments from teachers, gives the
assignments to the students, and then returns the completed
assignments to the teachers. (Doc. 12-1, p. 13). Ms. Martin
monitors the students until they complete the assigned
detention time. (Doc. 12-1, p. 14). As an interventionist,
Ms. Martin has limited access to INOW, the school's
student information software. Ms. Martin uses the software to
look up students' schedules. (Doc. 12-1, p. 14;
see Doc. 12-7, p. 3).
accounts, Ms. Martin is an effective interventionist. Clint
Dixon, the principal at Vincent Middle High School for the
2012-13 and 2013-14 school years, testified that Ms. Martin
is an “asset to Vincent Middle/High.” (Doc. 12-2,
p. 12). According to Mr. Dixon, Ms. Martin “did a great
job in the role of interventionist, ” and he
“never had to correct her for anything.” (Doc.
12-2, p. 17). Ms. Martin asserts that she has received
“stellar evaluations” and that her supervisors
have acknowledged that she has “a great work ethic,
” is “well- organized, ” and
“relate[s] well to peers and students.” (Doc.
19-1, ¶ 2).
Martin's 2013 and 2014 performance evaluations are
consistent with this assertion. Mr. Dixon completed Ms.
Martin's 2013 performance evaluation. (Doc. 19-9, pp.
1-2). Mr. Dixon indicated that Ms. Martin demonstrated
excellence in 13 of 15 identified categories, and she showed
strength in the two other categories. Mr. Dixon did not
report that Ms. Martin needed improvement or performed
unsatisfactorily in any category. (Doc. 19-9, p. 1). Under a
section of the 2013 evaluation titled “Strength and
Superior Performance, ” Mr. Dixon wrote:
Ms. Martin does an outstanding job as our ISD
Interventionist. She communicates effectively with teachers
to ensure students are doing their assigned tasks, and she
effectively monitors students in ISD to make sure they are
actively working. Students have great respect for Ms. Martin
because she develops positive relationships with students.
(Doc. 19-9, p. 1). Mr. Dixon wrote “N/A” under
the section of the 2013 evaluation titled “Deficiencies
or Inappropriate Behaviors.” (Doc. 19-9, p. 2). With
respect to goals or improvement programs, Mr. Dixon made two
recommendations. He stated that Ms. Martin should
“[c]ontinue to foster positive relationships with
students and work with them on making positive choices so
they can remain in class, ” and he asked Ms. Martin to
“[f]ind time while students are in ISD to work on
Ripple Effects software.” (Doc. 19-9, p. 2).
Dixon also completed Ms. Martin's 2014 performance
evaluation. (Doc. 19-10, pp. 1-2). Mr. Dixon indicated that
Ms. Martin demonstrated excellence in nine of 15 categories
and showed strength in the six other categories. Mr. Dixon
did not find that Ms. Martin's performance in any
category was unsatisfactory or needed improvement. (Doc.
19-10, p. 1). Under the section of the 2014 evaluation titled
“Strength and Superior Performance, ” Mr. Dixon
Ms. Martin is outstanding. She monitors student behavior in
ISD and ensures they complete their assignments. She treats
them with respect while holding them accountable for their
actions and their behavior in ISD. Ms. Martin communicates as
needed with administrators to ensure student success. She is
respected by students and staff alike.
(Doc. 19-10, p. 1). Under the section of the 2014 evaluation
titled “Deficiencies or Inappropriate Behaviors,
” Mr. Dixon wrote, “none.” (Doc. 19-10, p.
2). With respect to goals or improvement programs, Mr. Dixon
stated that Ms. Martin should “[c]ontinue to foster
positive relationships with students in ISD and help them
develop strategies to avoid disciplinary actions.”
(Doc. 19-10, p. 2).
March 2014, Ms. Martin received the “Shining
Star” award. (Doc. 12-1, p. 15; Doc. 19-1, ¶ 2).
The Alabama Education Association presents the award to an
association member who works in a support staff position at a
local school. (Doc. 12-1, p. 15). The award recognized Ms.
Martin “as the state education support professional of
the year” for “outstanding service.” (Doc.
19-1, ¶ 9). In May 2014, the student government
association at Vincent Middle High School recognized Ms.
Martin as a staff member who demonstrates “good spirit
with the teachers, the co-workers, the community, and [who]
show[s] good leadership skills.” (Doc. 12-1, p. 16).
to Ms. Martin, over her many years of service to the Shelby
County Board, she has asked for an opportunity to help in the
front office, but she has not been allowed to work there.
(Doc. 19-1, ¶ 5). Nor have other African-Americans.
(Doc. 19-1, ¶ 6). After Ms. Martin filed this lawsuit in
2015, the Board hired an African-American employee as a
bookkeeper in the Vincent Middle High School front office.
(Doc. 19-1, ¶ 7). To Ms. Martin's knowledge, the
bookkeeper is the first African-American individual who the
Board has hired in a support position in the front office at
the school. (Doc. 19-1, ¶¶ 6, 7).
2014, Ms. Martin applied to fill a vacant position in the
front office at Vincent Middle High School. Generally, to
fill a vacancy within the Shelby County school district, a
school administrator from the school with the vacancy asks
the district's human resources department to post an open
position. (Doc. 12-2, p. 5; Doc. 12-5, ¶ 4). For a
12-month contract position, like a registrar/data manager,
the human resources office posts the vacancy for 10 business
days, and candidates apply online. (Doc. 12-5, ¶ 4; Doc.
12-2, p. 5). The school with the vacancy assembles a team to
review the online applications, select candidates to
interview, and conduct interviews. (Doc. 12-2, p. 5; Doc.
12-5, ¶ 5; Doc. 12-6, p. 7). The superintendent
occasionally has input into which candidates to interview for
principal and central office positions at the schools in the
district, but the superintendent does not select candidates
to interview for positions within particular schools. (Doc.
12-6, p. 7).
interviews, the interview panel at the school with the
vacancy asks each candidate the same questions, and panel
members make notes about the answers. (Doc. 12-5, ¶ 6).
In 2014, the template form for assessing interviews included
a place for the panel to assign a numerical rating to each
answer. (Doc. 12-5, ¶ 6). The panel members then discuss
the qualities of the candidates who they interviewed and rank
the candidates before determining which candidate they will
recommend to human resources to fill the vacancy. (Doc. 12-5,
an interview panel submits a recommendation for hire to human
resources, the human resources office provides the
recommendation to the district's superintendent. (Doc.
12-4, p. 4; Doc. 12-5, ¶ 8; Doc. 12-6, pp. 11-12). The
superintendent then recommends the candidate to the Board.
When the superintendent recommends a candidate for a 12
month-position, the Board members do not receive information
about unsuccessful applicants for the available position.
(Doc. 12-5, ¶ 9). The Board members vote on the
candidate who the superintendent recommends. (Doc. 12-5,
¶ 9). The Board rarely declines the candidate who the
superintendent recommends. (Doc. 12-6, p. 13). Under state
law, the Shelby County school system officially hires a
candidate only after the Board votes. (Doc. 12-5, ¶ 9).
April 25, 2014, the Board posted a vacancy for the
registrar/data manager at Vincent Middle High School. (Doc.
12-2, p. 5; Doc. 12-5, ¶ 10). According to the job
description, applicants had to have at least a high school
diploma, working knowledge of basic office procedures and
business machines, 30 words per minute typing proficiency,
computer experience in data entry, proficiency with Microsoft
Excel and Word, proficiency with email and Windows XP, good
organizational skills, good phone and public relations
skills, and visual acuity. (Doc. 19-4, p. 1). The
registrar/data manager job description is a universal
document that applies to the registrar/data manager position
at each school in the Shelby County school system. (Doc.
12-6, p. 6).
description states that the responsibilities of a
registrar/data manager are as follows:
1. Be familiar with and follow the Shelby County Board of
Education and local school policies.
2. Be responsible for maintaining data management program(s)
for the local school.
3. Enter data on student, staff, scheduling and other
information, as assigned.
4. Process enrollment and withdrawal of students including
processing of associated paperwork, records, transcripts,
5. Assist parent/guardians in completing and submitting all
required registration materials.
6. Perform daily, monthly, and routine tasks as required for
the efficient operation of data management program(s) such
• Maintaining accurate enrollment, attendance with
withdrawal information on all students.
• Maintaining accurate personnel information.
• Maintaining accurate course, class, and scheduling
• Entering other data as assigned.
• Resolving and correcting data conflicts.
7. Attend training as required.
8. Adhere to all directives regarding proper data codes and
9. Assist in preparing, printing and distributing reports
• Student progress reports and ...