It shows, in my opinion, that the administration of HCC is just flat-out evil. The ROSSAC inmates are like fiends who cut off a victim from the herd and torture it for their sadistic amusement. I think the whole gang is crazy, and I mean crazy in the psychotic sense.
It is shameful that such behavior takes place in the public schools at the highest levels and that people never learn about it unless some poor soul like this files a law suit. I asked Ms. Satchel since the case was filed and was public if I could copy it to the blog. So here it is. Kipley and Lennard act as awful as I believe them to be. I don't know the other names, but people in the school system will recognize them.
I will send this as an addendum to the Florida bar ethics people and ask Linda Kipley to make sure Tom Gonzalez gets a copy since his email system locks me out he says. Gonzalez is mentioned as not producing a tape this woman said the administration had. Otherwise, this phenomenon appeared to occur at the end of Crosby Few's tenure.
Goader is helping me to mount my interim report on my complaint about Gonzalez to the Florida Bar's ethics division. I hope to complete this project before my body is washed ashore outside my condo balcony, heavily nibbled by crabs. The ROSSAC thugs will have probably done me in, taken me out to sea, dumped me, and left me to the mercy of the crabs and the tides.
I want the women to wear their goofiest hats to my funeral and the men to wear those terrific mile-high turbans that the Sicks (Sics?) wear whom I saw and admired when my husband and I went to India.
IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE THIRTEENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
IN AND FOR HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FLORIDA
GENERAL CIVIL DIVISION
Case No. ____________________________
SCHOOL BOARD OF HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY,
EARL LENNARD in his official and individual capacities, and
LINDA KIPLEY in her official and individual capacities,
COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES
Satchel, Debra Satchel (“Satchel”), pro se sues Defendants Earl Lennard (“Lennard”), Linda Kipley (“Kipley”), and the School Board of Hillsborough County (“School Board”) alleges as follows:
1. Satchel is a citizen and resident of Hillsborough County, Florida.
2. From 1983 to 2004, Satchel and the School Board maintained a valid contractual relationship. The School Board was Satchel’s employer.
3. Venue is proper in that the School Board is located in Hillsborough County and the alleged wrongful acts were committed in Hillsborough County.
4. Satchel has complied with all conditions precedent to the maintenance of these actions, and brings these actions for escalating tort violations from about April 2001to about October 2004, and continuing in March 2007 to October 2007.
5. This is an action for damages within the jurisdiction of this court.
6. All events pertinent to this action occurred as a result of Satchel’s employment relationship with Defendant School Board.
7. Satchel was a qualified teacher holding a professional service contract pursuant to Florida Statutes §1012.33(e).
8. Pursuant to Florida Statutes §1012.34, at all times Satchel’s performance was rated satisfactory.
9. The School Board is a local government agency of the State of Florida Board of Education and the Department of Education, established pursuant to the authority of the State Constitution, and governed by the Laws of Florida, doing business in Hillsborough County, and is the governing body for the School District of Hillsborough County.
10. Except for the disclosures occurring in 2007, the violations herein took place when Lennard was Superintendent of the School District of Hillsborough County, Executive Secretary to the School Board of Hillsborough County and an officer of the state system of public education.
11. The termination proceedings against Satchel took place with the full knowledge, consent and participation of Walter Crosby Few (“Few”), local government attorney to Defendant.
12. Members of the School Board and Lennard are public officials who pledged to support, protect and defend the Constitution and Government of the United States and of the State of Florida, and to well and faithfully perform the duties of office.
13. Satchel and Defendants shared a relationship whereby Satchel reposed trust and confidence in Defendant School Board and its representatives.
14. Defendants undertook such trust and assumed a duty to advise, counsel and/or protect Satchel.
15. By virtue of their relationship, Lennard had fiduciary duties of care, loyalty and good faith to Satchel, a teacher.
16. Kipley was at all times relevant an employee of the School Board serving as General Manager of Professional Standards and Building Principal of the Velasco Student Service Center (“Velasco Center”).
17. Defendants owed Satchel a duty to protect her from particular injury or damage. Defendants breached this duty.
18. Defendants owed Satchel a legal duty to protect her from an unreasonable risk of harm. Defendants breached this duty.
19. Defendants’ breaches were the proximate causes of injury or damage to Satchel.
CAUSES OF ACTION:
COUNT 1: CONSPIRACY
20. The behavior of Defendant School Board’s representatives presented herein reflects a decades-long pattern or practice within the School District of Hillsborough County, of illegal subjugation of employees through intimidation, retaliation and threat of public humiliation. Consequently, Lennard and Kipley corruptly exercised their authority through Defendant’s employees: coworkers and administrators of Satchel’s.
21. Satchel first learned of Defendant’s practices during the period 1993 to 1996 when she was selected as a teacher on special assignment as a Personnel Specialist in the Human Resources Department at the Raymond O. Shelton School Administrative Center.
22. Satchel was privy to weekly staff meetings of the Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources.
23. By virtue of their association and by the power of coercion that they did not possess individually, for personal reasons, Lennard and Kipley conspired to destroy Satchel’s credibility and to drive her out of the employ of Defendant School Board.
24. From about 2001 to 2004, through acts of harassment and intimidation, through attempts to provoke fear or anger, and through rumor and innuendo, Defendant’s employees attempted to dismiss Satchel constructively, or in the alternative, to provoke Satchel in order to find cause for termination of her employment.
25. Unsuccessful in their efforts to cause constructive dismissal, and unsuccessful in their efforts to provoke Satchel, Lennard and Kipley committed fraud in order to terminate Satchel’s employment.
26. Following a grievance filed by Satchel against William Orr, Satchel received, at her request, an administrative transfer away from Armwood High School; from an out-of-field teaching assignment back into her field of certification. This was the only administrative transfer Satchel received during her employment with Defendant.
27. After many requests for a copy of the taped recording of the Satchel-Orr Grievance Hearing of June 2001, Satchel received a blank tape from Defendant after the termination hearing on October 13, 2004. To deflect scrutiny from Kipley, Defendant directed Michael Saia to attest to having duplicated the tape.
28. Via other employees, Kipley and Lennard subjected Satchel to excessive scrutiny in an effort to develop cause to terminate her employment.
29. Lennard’s and Kipley’s actions reflect intentional misconduct or gross negligence, or both.
COUNT 2: BREACH OF FIDUCIARY DUTY
30. Satchel adopts by reference and realleges each and every allegation of this complaint the same as though specifically set out herein again and sues all Defendants for Breach of Fiduciary Duty.
31. Defendants have a duty to know all pertinent law, and to apply the law properly and consistently in their actions.
32. Through actions and at times, inaction, Lennard and the School Board breached the duty of care, loyalty and good faith owed Satchel by failing to perform as would reasonable persons in similar positions.
33. Prior to her 2004 dismissal, on her own initiative Satchel disclosed in written and signed complaints violations or suspected violations of federal, state, or local law, rule or regulation committed by employees which create and present a substantial and specific danger to the public's health, safety, or welfare pursuant to Florida Statutes §112.3187.
34. Lennard breached his fiduciary duties by delegating overly-broad discretion to Kipley in the performance of her duties.
35. After Doug Erwin blew the whistle on Defendant’s wrongdoing in December 2001, Defendant adopted its own misprision policy. Accordingly, Satchel reported individuals for violations or suspected violations of state and federal laws regarding harassment toward her and mismanagement, malfeasance, misfeasance or gross neglect of duty.
36. Satchel reported or questioned individuals regarding violations or suspected violations of School Board Policy or the Teachers’ Negotiated Contract.
37. From 2002 to as recently as 2007, Defendant violated its own misprision policy.
38. Defendants failed to protect Satchel after she made such disclosures, and Satchel became subject to excessive scrutiny outside of any lawful investigation concerning her.
39. Lennard was derelict in his duty to protect Satchel from a hostile work environment created partly by the excessive scrutiny.
40. On October 13, 2004 Lennard gave silent assent as Defendant School Board terminated Satchel’s employment based on his recommendation.
41. Defendants’ breach of their fiduciary duties subjected Satchel to foreseeable harm.
42. Satchel has sustained injury as the direct and proximate result of the Defendants’ breach of the fiduciary duties required, accepted and breached by them.
COUNT 3: BREACH OF COVENANT OF GOOD FAITH AND FAIR DEALING
43. Satchel adopts by reference and realleges each and every allegation of this complaint the same as though specifically set out herein again and sues Defendants for Breach of Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing.
44. From at least October 2001, Lennard participated in violating Satchel's rights, or directed others to violate them, or had knowledge of and acquiesced to subordinates’ violations by ignoring Satchel’s plight and suddenly apprising her of his intention to terminate her employment.
45. Despite Satchel’s troubles, at no time did Lennard speak with, meet with or otherwise communicate with her; and despite Satchel’s pleas for help, at no time did Lennard act to mitigate her difficulties.
46. Defendant scheduled the termination hearing on October 13, 2004 despite a schedule conflict and the specific request of Satchel’s counsel.
47. Lennard breached the covenant of good faith and fair dealing in the events leading to the termination of Satchel’s employment, and on October 13, 2004 at his request the School Board terminated Satchel’s employment by means known by him to be unlawful and by accusations known by him to be untruthful.
48. Lennard’s actions toward Satchel were motivated by ill will toward Satchel.
COUNT 4: INVASION OF PRIVACY
49. Satchel adopts by reference and realleges each and every allegation of this complaint the same as though specifically set out herein again and sues Defendants for Invasion of Privacy.
50. In a telephone conversation in about August 2002 Satchel declined Richard M. Martinez’ request to speak directly with her psychiatrist. Martinez spoke with Satchel’s psychiatrist anyway.
51. From May 2004, Defendants subjected Satchel to defamation per se, (1) through false accusations and misstatements in Defendant’s notice of serious discipline, (2) through the publication of Defendant’s intent to suspend or terminate Satchel’s employment in at least one local newspaper, (3) through the false and exaggerated testimony of its employees, (4) through false and defamatory findings of fact and conclusions of law, (5) by the public nature of government administrative proceedings, (6) by forcing Satchel to defame herself when applying for employment, and (7) by other documents, such as the transcript of hearing testimony. Defendants knew that Satchel would feel compelled to repeat or explain the defamatory comments made against her, leading to self-defamation.
52. Defendants intended or had reason to suppose that the statements would be disclosed to a third party, and knew that the charges, the Findings of Fact and the Conclusions of Law would expose Satchel to contempt within her profession.
53. Defendants knew that the charges, the Findings of Fact and the Conclusions of Law would become public record, and knew that Satchel would suffer actual damage to her reputation.
54. These documents injured Satchel, a person in the profession of teaching in that they attribute to her conduct, characteristics or conditions incompatible with the proper exercise of the teaching profession. Further, these documents subjected Satchel to hatred, distrust, ridicule, contempt or disgrace within her profession and also within the community.
55. Defendants’ actions included abuse of authority in persuading employees to make false or exaggerated statements and to give disparaging testimony against Satchel. Defendants’ employees did so at the termination hearing for which Satchel had been provided no explanation of the evidentiary basis for the charges against her.
56. Kipley was aware that Satchel had Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”). Yet, in January 2004 Defendant coerced Satchel to take a fitness-for-duty evaluation with the School Board’s hired consultant, Dr. James Edgar (“Edgar”), violating the Teachers’ Negotiated Contract and Satchel’s right to privacy.
57. Defendants subsequently disclosed the results of the fitness-for-duty evaluation in the termination hearing where Defendant’s consultant discussed and disputed Satchel’s having PTSD.
58. During the same proceeding Defendant’s consultant disclosed (1) that Satchel was on medication for the mental disorder, and (2) identified both the name and dosage of Satchel’s medication.
59. Kipley’s hired consultant buttressed Lennard’s charges against Satchel by giving testimony that contradicted the diagnoses of Satchel’s mental health professionals.
60. Defendants acted without the express or implied consent of Satchel to have such private information disclosed.
61. In so doing, Defendant made public private facts that are of no legitimate public concern.
62. The disclosure of these private facts is to Satchel, and would be to a reasonable person, highly offensive.
63. The discussion of Satchel’s medical condition, and Edgar’s opinion of her medical condition, placed Satchel in a false light before the public.
64. Lennard and Kipley acted with knowledge that the statements of their consultant contradicted prior, legitimate diagnoses.
65. Lennard and Kipley acted with reckless disregard for whether the statements made by the consultant were true or false, or the effect on Satchel.
COUNT 5: NEGLIGENCE PER SE
66. Satchel adopts by reference and realleges each and every allegation of this complaint the same as though specifically set out herein again and sues Defendants for Negligence Per Se.
67. Satchel is a member of that class of persons for which protection was intended, namely, a public employee.
68. Satchel suffered injuries that Florida Statutes were designed to prevent.
69. Defendants’ violation of Florida Statutes proximately caused injury to Satchel, that is, the wrongful termination of her employment by capricious means.
70. Defendants’ termination of Satchel’s employment violates public policy delineated in both constitutional and statutory provisions which were well established at the time of her discharge.
71. Defendants breached Florida Statutes §1012.31 by filing documents in Satchel’s personnel file and not conforming to the express provisions of that statute.
72. For personal reasons, Defendants violated statutory requirements for dismissal of teachers, namely Florida Statutes §1012.22 which describes the powers and duties of the district school board as pertains to the appointment, compensation, promotion, suspension, and dismissal of employees. Section (1)(f) mandates that “no administrative assistant, supervisor, principal, teacher, or other member of the instructional staff may be discharged, removed, or returned to annual contract except as provided in this chapter.”
73. For personal reasons, Defendants charged Satchel with (1) “insubordination, (2) persistent violation of or willful refusal to obey laws or policies relating to the public schools; and (3) failure to demonstrate competency to perform the duties of employment in instruction, evaluation, and management of students in accordance with generally accepted standards of the profession.” Defendants did so by a process not authorized by Florida Statutes.
74. Defendants violated statutory requirements for dismissal of teachers, namely Florida Statutes §1012.33 (1)(a) which mandates “dismissal during the term of the contract only for just cause . . . Just cause includes, but is not limited to . . . misconduct in office, incompetency, gross insubordination, willful neglect of duty, or conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude.” Defendants made accusations, but did not support a just cause dismissal against Satchel for any of the reasons stated.
75. Satchel held a professional service contract on July 1, 1997.
76. For personal reasons, Lennard violated Section (3)(f) of Florida Statutes §1012.33, which states, “The district superintendent shall notify an employee who holds a professional service contract on July 1, 1997, in writing, no later than 6 weeks prior to the end of the post-school conference period, of performance deficiencies which may result in termination of employment, if not corrected during the subsequent year of employment (which shall be granted for an additional year in accordance with the provisions in subsection (1))…” and outlines procedures to be applied.
77. Section (3)(a) of Florida Statutes §1012.33 states “Each district school board shall provide a professional service contract as prescribed herein . . . ” Defendant School Board issued the 2003-2004 professional services contract to Satchel in February 2004.
78. Section (3)(b) of Florida Statutes §1012.33 states “The professional service contract shall be effective at the beginning of the school year following the completion of all requirements therefor.” Satchel possessed a professional service contract in May 2004 when Defendant gave her notice “that the Administration has become or is aware of facts that, if proven to be true, could result in a recommendation of serious discipline up to and including suspension or dismissal.”
79. For personal reasons, Defendants violated statutory requirements for dismissal of teachers, namely Section (3)(e) of Florida Statutes §1012.33 which states “A professional service contract shall be renewed each year unless the district school superintendent, after receiving the recommendations required by s. 1012.34, charges the employee with unsatisfactory performance and notifies the employee of performance deficiencies as required by s. 1012.34.”
80. Defendants violated Satchel’s right to privacy by reporting to the Department of Education under Florida Statutes §1012.21 the name of Satchel as a “person terminated under s. 1012.33(1)(a) or (4)(c).”
COUNT 6: GROSS NEGLIGENCE
81. Satchel adopts by reference and realleges each and every allegation of this complaint the same as though specifically set out herein again and sues Defendants for Gross Negligence.
82. From as early as October 2001, Satchel notified Defendant School Board of a general pattern or practice of intimidation among some of its administrators toward teachers.
83. From as early as October 2001, all members of the School Board were aware of Satchel’s complaint that she was an individual who was being harassed by an administrator.
84. Defendant School Board gave insufficient attention to Satchel’s concerns, and in all events showed willful disregard and lack of care for Satchel, a teacher whom Defendant knew had been harassed or berated by at least two administrators as of October 16, 2001.
85. In about December 2002 Satchel reported to Elizabeth Stelter, principal of Bloomingdale High School, harassment from Clara Gene Odell, and sent copies of the complaint to Daniel Valdez, Chief Officer of Human Resources, and Lennard. Satchel received no reply.
86. In December 2002, Sara Davis Brewster unlawfully conducted official observations of Satchel’s classroom teaching.
87. In January 2003 Elizabeth Stelter ridiculed Satchel, saying, “I heard you ‘lost it’ over at Jefferson” and “I hear you’re on medication” with a chuckle.
88. During a similar meeting, Elizabeth Stelter dismissed Satchel’s complaint that Clara Gene Odell walked into the copy room where Satchel was standing and screamed for no apparent reason, saying, “That’s just Gene.”
89. In February 2003, following a pre-grievance conference, Satchel requested, but did not receive, a grievance form from Elizabeth Stelter.
90. On March 3, 2003 Satchel reported to Daniel Valdez that she received no reply to her email of December 13, 2002 and requested, but did not receive, forms for filing complaints and grievances. Patti McBride, secretary to Valdez, hedged on Satchel’s request.
91. On March 3, 2003 Satchel requested, but did not receive, forms for filing complaint and grievances from Lennard, who did not reply.
92. On March 4, 2003 Satchel requested, but did not receive, forms for filing complaint and grievances from Belinda Nessmith, secretary to Elizabeth Stelter, who hedged on Satchel’s request.
93. On March 7, 2003 Satchel filed a grievance against Jeffrey Pelzer using a form from the Orr Grievance of 2001.
94. On about March 7, 2003 Clara Gene Odell failed to provide class coverage during Satchel’s approved absence. Defendant used this information against Satchel at its termination proceedings.
95. In April 2003, after Satchel filed a grievance against Jeffrey Pelzer, Curtis Todd Bowden retaliated by assigning her to share a room with Jeffrey Pelzer the following school year.
96. On about May 28, 2003 Satchel received a note from Belinda Nessmith to schedule a meeting with Elizabeth Stelter.
97. On about May 28, 2003 Satchel reported to Kipley, Lennard and Valdez that she felt she was being put on the ‘hot seat’ by Elizabeth Stelter, who withheld Satchel’s performance assessment until the last day of school.
98. On about May 29, 2003 Elizabeth Stelter fraudulently conducted a performance assessment of Satchel. At no time between 2002 and 2004 did Stelter (1) observe Satchel’s classroom teaching or classroom management; at no time did Stelter (2) observe Satchel interacting with co-workers inappropriately and advise Satchel concerning her behavior; at no time did Stelter (3) advise Satchel of departures from state, district and school policies and procedures.
99. Stelter provided no anecdotal evidence for the three areas marked ‘NI’ on the performance assessment of Satchel.
100. On about May 29, 2003 Stelter urged Satchel to leave her school, and ‘promised’ Satchel that her work environment “won’t get any easier.”
101. On July 31, 2003 Satchel responded to the performance assessment by hand-delivery to Belinda Nessmith.
102. On about August 20, 2003 Satchel’s teaching schedule was changed abruptly, and she was assigned to teach In-School Suspension (ISS).
103. After Satchel filed a pre-grievance request, Bowden removed Satchel from the ISS teaching assignment.
104. On or about August 20, 2003 Curtis Todd Bowden ignored Satchel’s request to remove a disruptive student that Odell transferred to Satchel.
105. On about August 24, 2003 Satchel filed with Lennard a complaint against Clara Gene Odell.
106. On about September 1, 2003 Satchel filed with Lennard a complaint against Jeffrey Pelzer.
107. On September 3, 2003 Bowden required Satchel meet with him on the pretext of answering a parental complaint.
108. In September 2003, in response to Satchel’s complaints to Lennard (#103 and #104 above) regarding Clara Gene Odell and Jeffrey Pelzer, Kipley sent a certified letter to Satchel’s post office box.
109. The certified letter was returned to Kipley by the U.S. Postal Service.
110. Satchel learned of the existence of this letter in February 2004.
111. In October 2003, Stelter observed Satchel in the main office and called her into an impromptu meeting, during which Stelter made false claims against Satchel concerning tardiness.
112. Following this harassment by Stelter, in October 2003 Satchel emailed Lennard requesting a meeting. Satchel received no response from Lennard.
113. In November 2003, Clara Gene Odell made false claims against Satchel concerning sending students to the Media Center.
114. Satchel received no response after reporting the incident to Daniel Valdez, Richard Martinez, Linda Kipley and Earl Lennard.
115. On about January 7, 2004 Satchel was intimidated and assaulted by Curtis Todd Bowden.
116. Defendants failed to protect Satchel from Bowden’s actions, and failed to take appropriate actions following the intimidation and assault. Rather, at Kipley’s direction Satchel was spirited away from the work site without explanation.
117. On about January 12, 2004 Kipley required Satchel to clear out all of her belongings from Bloomingdale High School.
118. On about January 14, 2004 Satchel provided names to a district investigator of persons witnessing parts of the interaction between her and Bowden.
119. In its investigation, Defendant utilized a faulty investigatory instrument, asking standard and sometimes irrelevant questions of each witness, inhibiting spontaneous input and limiting witnesses to Likert-scale-type responses.
120. In February 2004, without just cause, Kipley required Satchel to undergo a fitness-for-duty evaluation, ignored Satchel’s questions concerning the reason for the action, and violated, at the least, the teacher’s negotiated contract.
121. In March 2004, in a meeting with Daniel Valdez, Kipley disclosed to Satchel the results of the fitness-for-duty evaluation and then required Satchel to report to the Velasco Center where, daily, she faced excessive scrutiny, disdain, and confusion.
122. Satchel had no clear protocol during her assignment at the Velasco Center.
123. On about June 2, 2004 Lennard suspended Satchel without pay, despite not having met with her.
124. On October 13, 2004 Defendants held a hearing with the express purpose of terminating Satchel’s employment. During that hearing, Defendants failed to ask questions that reasonable persons would ask, failed to make inferences that reasonable persons would make, and failed to apply the standards required to establish just cause to terminate Satchel’s employment.
125. Despite their knowledge of Satchel’s emotional state, and having no basis to attack Satchel and her attorney personally, Defendant Board members were impolite and made scathing remarks in shrieking tones toward them.
126. Defendants rejected the proposal for mitigation made by Satchel’s attorney, namely, the assignment of Satchel to the Recovery Network Program, confusing the Recovery Network Program with general employer assistance programs.
127. In April 2007, pursuant to Florida Statutes §1012.795, §1012.796 and Rule 6B-1.006 of the Florida Administrative Code, Satchel disclosed to Superintendent Mary Ellen Elia (“Elia”) information of a continuous pattern of managerial abuses, wrongful or arbitrary and capricious actions, or fraudulent or criminal conduct by Kipley.
128. The information Satchel disclosed in April 2007 included violations or suspected violations of federal, state, or local law, rule, or regulation committed by Kipley which create and present a substantial and specific danger to the public's health, safety, or welfare.
129. The information Satchel disclosed attested to acts or suspected acts of gross mismanagement, malfeasance, misfeasance and gross neglect of duty committed by an employee or agent of the School Board.
130. Defendant School Board, through current superintendent Mary Ellen Elia and its current local government attorney, Thomas M. Gonzalez, declined to act on such disclosures.
131. Defendant's conduct, from 2001 to 2007, has been so reckless or wanting in care that it constitutes a conscious disregard or indifference to the life, safety or rights of Satchel, a person exposed to such conduct.
132. Defendant acted with conscious indifference to the consequences of its actions.
COUNT 7: FRAUDULENT MISREPRESENTATION
133. Satchel adopts by reference and realleges each and every allegation of this complaint the same as though specifically set out herein again and sues Defendants for Fraudulent Misrepresentation.
134. Pursuant to the termination of Satchel’s employment, Defendants fraudulently represented to Satchel that she was being terminated for the reasons set out in its Notice Letter.
135. Pursuant to the termination of Satchel’s employment, Defendants stated false reasons, knew the statements were false and had, or should have had serious doubts about the truth of statements.
136. Satchel relied on the misrepresentations made to her in order to defend herself with counsel, and prepared for a hearing that complied with Florida Statutes.
137. Subsequently, Satchel requested from Thomas Gonzalez a certified copy of the tape recording of the hearing on October, 2004.Gonzalez falsely stated that there was no tape made of the hearing.
138. Satchel was damaged as a result of Defendants’ fraudulent misrepresentations.
COUNT 8: FRAUD BY ARTIFICE, CONCEALMENT, FORGERY,
INSINCERE PROMISE, NON-DISCLOSURE OR PARTIAL DISCLOSURE
139. Satchel adopts by reference and realleges each and every allegation of this complaint the same as though specifically set out herein again and sues Lennard and Kipley for Fraud by Artifice, Concealment, Forgery, Insincere Promise, Non-Disclosure or Partial Disclosure.
140. From at least September 2001 to May 2004, Lennard and Kipley maintained a fraudulent relationship with Satchel.
141. As Lennard’s representative, Kipley was duty bound to disclose to Satchel all material facts concerning her to Satchel.
142. Both Kipley and Lennard failed to make the requisite disclosures of material facts concerning her to Satchel.
143. From about September 2001, Kipley maintained a ‘working file’ on Satchel in order to develop cause to terminate Satchel’s employment. Satchel learned of the existence of this file in January 2004.
144. In Satchel’s working file was at least one materially false statement regarding Satchel from Ronald Cugno. Satchel learned of the existence of this information in about February 2004.
145. In Satchel’s working file was at least one materially false statement regarding Satchel from Gwendolyn Henderson. Satchel learned of the existence of this information in about February 2004.
146. On September 20, 2001, at Kipley’s direction Satchel was removed from her work site and subsequently required to undergo anger management through Defendant School Board’s employer assistance program.
147. From September 20, 2001 to May 2002 Satchel was forced to remain at home with no job duties.
148. By letter of October 16, 2001 to School Board members, Satchel sought information concerning her removal from Jefferson High School, the status of her employment, and the status of any investigation into the events of September 20, 2001.
149. Kipley’s memo of October 17, 2001 provided information for Janice Velez’ email to Satchel of October 17, 2001.
150. By email Velez stated that there was no investigation into the Jefferson incident. Satchel learned in about February 2004 that in fact, there had been an investigation.
151. Defendant’s investigation of September 2001 included materially false information of which Satchel was unaware, and which became part of Satchel’s working file.
152. Satchel’s working file contained witness statements that she was provided no opportunity to rebut, nor was she given the opportunity to support her own position with witness statements, or to seek other remedies. Satchel learned of the existence of this information in about February 2004.
153. Although Satchel had been unaware of the 2001 investigation of the Jefferson incident and was not disciplined or charged in any way, Defendants reached back to this incident to support Satchel’s dismissal in 2004.
154. In October 2001 Kipley fraudulently completed, signed and presented to Satchel’s mental health professional a medical disclosure form intended for Satchel’s signature. Satchel learned of the existence of this form in about February 2004.
155. From October 2001, Kipley concealed a diagnosis by Satchel’s mental health professional, a diagnosis paralleling that of Satchel’s psychiatrist’s. Satchel learned of the existence of this information in March 2007.
156. In November 2001 Kipley sent a letter concerning the incident at Jefferson High School to Satchel at a non-working address. Satchel learned of the existence of this letter in about February 2004.
157. Kipley’s letter of November 2001 was returned to Kipley by the U.S. Postal Service and not received by Satchel. Even so, in 2004 Defendant used this letter to support its termination of Satchel’s employment.
158. In about April 2002 Satchel met with Kipley and Valdez, who advised Satchel to “look over the vacancies” so she could “select a placement” for the 2002-2003 school year. Subsequently, the decision for Satchel “to select a placement” evolved into a decision for Valdez “to place” Satchel.
159. On about May 10, 2002 Kipley directed Satchel to report to Susan Miller who was “prepared for [Satchel] to report to her site.”
160. Upon Satchel’s arrival, Susan Miller had no assignment for Satchel. There was no curriculum-writing project, and no one knew what Satchel’s duties were. Finally, Michelle Grinstead gave Satchel a data-entry project and took her to a musty, dark and dirty condemned portable with a poorly-functioning computer and visible mold on ceiling tiles and air conditioning vents. Reporting daily, Satchel interacted with no person in authority, completing a data entry project that no one ever requested.
161. Meanwhile, the positions mentioned by Kipley earlier were filled by other teachers. Ultimately, Satchel requested to be assigned to the pool. The school Satchel chose was removed from the list. Satchel settled for Bloomingdale High School.
162. Throughout the 2002-2003 school year, Kipley secretly maintained a working file on Satchel in order to find cause to terminate her employment.
163. Kipley continued to maintain the working file on Satchel in the 2003-2004 school year without Satchel’s knowledge.
164. To advance their sinister objectives, Lennard and Kipley exploited the incident of January 7, 2004 in order to terminate Satchel’s employment.
165. In March 2004 Satchel foiled an apparent ploy to find cause to terminate Satchel’s employment based on insubordination for not attending a meeting. On Friday, March 12, 2004, while Satchel was sequestered at home, Kipley sent email to Satchel’s work email address requiring her presence at a meeting on Monday, March 15, 2004 at 8:30 a.m. Satchel received the email after midnight on March 15, 2004 and replied. At approximately 8:20 a.m. on Monday, March 15, 2004, as Satchel approached the Velasco Building she encountered Valdez on the way out of the Velasco Building. Kipley ran out of her office suite into the reception hall and yelled to Valdez, “She’s coming!”
166. In March 2004 at the Velasco Center, initially Satchel was assigned to work under the direction of Marian Lauria-Davis, but Kipley regularly met with Satchel for unexplained reasons, often rehearsing previously-discussed matters.
167. At no time did Kipley disclose to Satchel that her employment was in jeopardy. Rather, through chicanery and doublespeak, Kipley avoided Satchel’s questions.
168. From March 28, 2004 to May 7, 2004 Kipley ignored Satchel’s letter seeking clarification of the procedures being used concerning her.
169. On May 7, 2004 Kipley handed Satchel a one-page letter dated April 27, 2004 in answer to Satchel’s March 28, 2004 Due Process letter.
170. Kipley complied with Satchel’s requests to record the meetings from January to May 2004; yet, the copies of the recordings Satchel received were altered.
171. In May 2004, upon Satchel’s renewed request to Martinez for a copy of the tape of the Satchel-Orr Grievance Hearing, Judith Edwards fraudulently provided Satchel a blank tape.
172. Later in May 2004 Satchel again requested a copy of a certified copy of the tape.
173. In May 2004 Kipley intervened on Satchel’s request to Martinez for a copy of the Satchel-Orr grievance hearing of June 2001, and falsely represented a blank tape as a certified copy of the taped grievance meeting.
174. As recently as December 2007 Satchel requested, but has not received from Defendant, a certified copy of the grievance tape.
175. On about April 16, 2004, two ministerial employees provoked an incident in the break room (the ‘break room incident’) for which Satchel was blamed. One employee reports directly to, and reported the incident to, Kipley.
176. Kipley solicited written complaints from the employees involved in the break room incident. Satchel learned of their complaints in July 2004.
177. At no time before or after the break room incident of April 16, 2004 was Satchel given the letter informing her of “one last opportunity to move to another work site.”
178. At no time after the break room incident of April 16, 2004 was Satchel informed that the break room incident formed the basis of a just cause termination of her employment.
179. Three weeks after the break room incident, on May 7, 2004, Kipley surprised Satchel with a letter of serious discipline.
180. For personal reasons, Defendants fraudulently undertook to dismiss Satchel from employment under Section (6)(a) of Florida Statutes §1012.33, which states “Any member of the instructional staff …may be suspended or dismissed at any time during the term of the contract for just cause as provided in paragraph (1)(a).”
181. For personal reasons, Defendants used the break room incident to feign just cause to terminate Satchel’s employment, pursuant to Section (6)(a) of Florida Statutes §1012.33.
182. Satchel learned the significance of the break room incident only after Defendants challenged Satchel’s award of unemployment compensation on the basis that she was dismissed for misconduct and cited the break room incident.
183. On or about October 11, 2004 Satchel discovered in her personnel file a second letter, dated April 27, 2004 which is two pages.
184. Kipley testified falsely that she delivered this letter to Satchel.
185. Defendant ignored Satchel’s requests for proof that she received the ‘one last opportunity’ letter. In October and November 2004 Satchel requested from Kipley and from Gonzalez a copy of the return receipt for the letter dubbed ‘one last opportunity.’
186. In about November 2004 Satchel requested, by email from her personal email account, a copy of the signed receipt and delivery date of the ‘one last opportunity letter’ of April 27, 2004. Kipley responded to Satchel’s district email account.
187. On about November 10, 2004 Satchel disclosed to retiring Board attorney Few that Kipley had offered false evidence against Satchel. Few indicated that, in order for her to appeal the Board’s decision, he would provide her a sample of the petition for writ of certiorari, that she could include the fact that Kipley offered false evidence in the petition, and that Defendant would give Satchel an extension of time to file the petition. None of what Few promised occurred.
188. Kipley violated Florida Statutes §831.01, which states “Whoever falsely makes, alters, forges or counterfeits a public record, . . . with intent to injure or defraud any person, shall be guilty of a felony of the third degree . . .” and also Florida Statutes §831.02, “Whoever utters and publishes as true a false, forged or altered record, deed, instrument or other writing mentioned in s. 831.01 knowing the same to be false, altered, forged or counterfeited, with intent to injure or defraud any person, shall be guilty of a felony of the third degree . . .”
189. In October 2004 the Unemployment Compensation (“UC”) benefit adjuster determined that Defendant’s information did not substantiate that Satchel was suspended for misconduct.
190. In November 2004 Defendant appealed to UC for a Redetermination/Rehearing, citing ‘the break room’ incident as the ultimate basis for termination of Satchel’s employment.
191. In January 2005 Defendant appealed the decision of the UC Appeals Referee and made materially false statements to support its opposition to Satchel’s receiving unemployment compensation.
192. In March 2005 the Unemployment Appeals Commission (UAC) vacated the Appeals Referee’s decision and remanded the cause for development of the record and to address procedural errors.
193. Defendant falsified and placed evidence in Satchel’s file, namely, the ‘one last opportunity’ letter, to support a claim of discharge due to misconduct, in order to deprive Satchel of an award of unemployment compensation.
194. After termination of Satchel’s employment, Defendants sought sanctions against Satchel’s teaching certificate by the Department of Education.
195. In February 2007, based on information submitted by Defendant in Case No.045-1448-D, Commissioner John L. Winn found probable cause to justify sanctions against Satchel’s teaching certificate as provided in §1012.796(6) and §1012.795(1) of the Florida Statutes.
196. From 2004 to date, at Defendant’s request, the Florida Department of Education has investigated Satchel, and her credentials are subject to sanctions. Satchel has denied all allegations.
197. From 2001 to 2007, Kipley concealed that she was aware of Satchel’s medical condition. Kipley’s affidavit of 2007 attests that she required the fitness-for-duty evaluation, and also attests to her fraudulent behavior.
COUNT 9: TORTIOUS INTERFERENCE
WITH A CONTRACTUAL RELATIONSHIP
198. Satchel adopts by reference and realleges each and every allegation of this complaint the same as though specifically set out herein again and sues Lennard and Kipley for Tortious Interference with a Contractual Relationship.
199. Satchel and Defendant School Board had a contractual relationship.
200. For personal reasons, Lennard and Kipley were aware that Satchel possessed a continuing contract with the School Board.
201. Lennard and Kipley intentionally sought to breach the contract, absent justification or privilege.
202. The actions of Lennard and Kipley occurred outside of any judicial proceeding.
203. As a result of Kipley and Lennard’s actions, Satchel suffered foreseeable damages resulting from the breach.
COUNT 10: ABUSE OF PROCESS
204. Satchel adopts by reference and realleges each and every allegation of this complaint the same as though specifically set out herein again and sues Defendants for Abuse of Process.
205. In about late 2002, Defendant unilaterally changed the grievance procedure by requiring a pre-grievance conference before a grievance could be filed.
206. From January to May 2004, Lennard and Kipley suppressed proper process of Satchel’s complaint against Bowden and her request for a pre-grievance conference so she could file a grievance against Bowden.
207. For personal reasons, Defendants made illegal, improper or perverted use of the statutory process for just cause dismissal of teachers, applying the obsolete and unconstitutional Hillsborough County Teacher Tenure Act (“Tenure Act”) to bring about Satchel’s dismissal.
208. Defendants had an ulterior motive or purpose in abusing the process; specifically, the dismissal of Satchel from its employ by any means necessary.
209. Defendants failed to use lawful methods for dismissing Satchel, supposedly “a teacher with observable and ongoing unsatisfactory conduct or performance.”
210. Defendants gave procedurally insufficient notice to Satchel regarding all aspects of the termination procedure and hearing, in that she expected a hearing that complied with Florida Statutes, and was not aware of the methods, standard of proof, or evidence admissible, under the Tenure Act; and Defendant was aware of this fact.
211. Defendant’s Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law are not supported by competent, substantial evidence and do not comport with the essential requirements of law.
212. Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on Cleveland Board of Education v. Loudermill, 470 U.S. 532 (1985) (“Loudermill”), Defendants have occasionally utilized the Tenure Act to dismiss employees.
213. Under Loudermill, “all the process that is due is provided by a pre-termination opportunity to respond, coupled with post-termination administrative procedures . . .;” however, in order to comply with the due process requirements of Loudermill, employees (1) must be advised of the evidence to be used against them and (2) must be provided a post-termination administrative hearing. Defendants provided neither to Satchel.
214. Defendants did not provide Satchel the process due her pursuant to Florida Statutes §1012.33(6)(a), which provides for a post-termination administrative hearing.
215. Defendants knew or should have known that the Tenure Act was not a valid instrument by which to terminate Satchel’s employment, and that its use would cause Satchel harm.
216. During the ten-day appeal period and beyond, Defendants ignored Satchel’s requests for information on how to appeal the School board’s decision.
COUNT 11: BREACH OF CONTRACT WITH MALICE
217. Satchel adopts by reference and realleges each and every allegation of this complaint the same as though specifically set out herein again and sues Defendants for Breach of Contract with Malice.
218. In November 1983 Satchel and the School Board entered a valid contract of employment, which was renewed annually.
219. Pursuant to Florida Statutes §1012.33(3) (a), annually Defendant School Board publishes a boilerplate addendum to the contract and distributes the same to teachers in the second semester of the school year.
220. On or about February 24, 2004 Satchel received the usual addendum to the professional service contract for school year 2003-2004. From September 19, 2001 to October 13, 2004 Defendants breached the terms of the negotiated contract with Satchel repeatedly.
221. On October 13, 2004, Defendant terminated Satchel’s employment in an ultimate breach of the express terms of its contract with Satchel, and violated Florida Statutes §1012.33(3) (b), (e) and (f).
222. Satchel suffered injury caused by Defendant’s malicious breach of the contract between them.
COUNT 12: VIOLATION OF FLORIDA’S PUBLIC RECORDS LAW
223. Satchel adopts by reference and realleges each and every allegation of this complaint the same as though specifically set out herein again and sues Defendants for violating Florida’s Public Records Law, Florida Statutes §119.
224. Defendants breached Florida Statutes §119.01, which states “Providing access to public records is a duty of each agency.” Pursuant to Florida Statutes §119.07(1) (a), in January 2004 Satchel requested from Kipley to inspect and copy her working personnel file.
225. Kipley denied Satchel’s request to inspect and copy her working file, copying it for Satchel instead.
226. On about January 30, 2004 Kipley provided a copy of a portion, but not all of Satchel’s working file.
227. In March 2007 Satchel received certain documents that were not included in the copies of the working file Kipley provided in January 2004.
228. The documents that were missing from the January 2004 copies were not exempt or information confidential from Satchel.
229. From about November 2003 to October 2004, Defendants stonewalled Satchel’s request for a copy of the Satchel-Orr Grievance Hearing, finally providing blank tapes under the guise of having provided the certified copy Satchel requested.
230. Defendants’ breach of the duty required by Florida Statutes §119.071 subjects them to the provisions of Florida Statutes §119.10.
COUNT 13: NEGLIGENT RETENTION
231. Satchel adopts by reference and realleges each and every allegation of this complaint the same as though specifically set out herein again and sues Defendant School Board for Negligent Retention.
232. In September 2001 Satchel reported to Defendant’s representative, Daniel Riveiro that she was being harassed by Ronald Cugno.
233. Defendant failed to take appropriate actions to protect Satchel after she reported that she was being harassed by Cugno.
234. On September 20, 2001 Cugno and Kerry Bender incited an incident by playing a cruel prank on Satchel to harass her, and then lurked nearby to observe her reaction.
235. In about December 2001, a local news station aired a segment on Cugno as ‘a Bay Area connection’ to the ‘Black Hawk Down’ catastrophe in Mogadishu.
236. In about January 2002 a local newspaper ran an article about Cugno’s ‘Black Hawk’ experience.
237. Defendant knew or should have known that Cugno is a person affected by the ‘Black Hawk Down’ catastrophe, with a penchant toward aggression.
238. On 9-ll-2001, Defendant knew or should have known that Cugno was a former special operations soldier.
239. Defendants knew or should have known that Cugno is a person who had harassed persons other than Satchel before and after the Jefferson incident of September 2001.
240. Without due care and attention, Defendant hired and retained Cugno in its employ, and also promoted him repeatedly.
241. On October 13, 2004 Defendants knew or should have known that Cugno incited and aggravated the incident with Satchel at Jefferson High School in September 2001.
242. At Satchel’s termination hearing on October 13, 2004, given the additional weight of his promoted status, Cugno again harmed Satchel by giving outrageously false testimony in support of Defendants’ termination of Satchel’s employment.
243. Defendants failed to take appropriate actions to prevent a recurrence of harm to Satchel from Cugno.
COUNT 14: INTENTIONAL INFLICTION OF
SEVERE EMOTIONAL DISTRESS
244. Satchel adopts by reference and realleges each and every allegation of this complaint the same as though specifically set out herein again and sues Defendants for Intentional Infliction of Severe Emotional Distress.
245. Defendants were aware that Satchel suffered from depression.
246. For personal reasons, Defendants Lennard and Kipley willfully and wantonly, without legal excuse or justification, subjected Satchel to excessive scrutiny, despair, derision and scorn and the loss of ability to earn a living.
247. The actions of the Defendants were intentionally, deliberately and maliciously committed for the purpose of causing plaintiff to suffer great emotional and mental distress.
248. To accomplish their aims, Defendants hired Dr. James Edgar (“Edgar”) for the purposes of repudiating the diagnosis of Satchel’s psychiatrist, revealing intimate medical details that Defendant was unable to disclose legally, to cast skepticism on the diagnosis rendered by Dr. Feldman, and to cast aspersion on Satchel’s veracity.
249. To accomplish their aims, Defendants had Edgar disclose information pertaining to Satchel’s medical condition purposely to cause Satchel emotional distress.
250. For personal reasons, from about October 13, 2004 to the present, Lennard and Kipley sought further to destroy Satchel’s ability to make a living; by seeking to deprive Satchel of the property of her teaching certificate, Defendants submitted to the Florida Department of Education documents designed to bring sanctions against Satchel’s teaching certificate.
251. To accomplish their aims, Kipley made false statements and solicited false statements from Odell and Stelter, and possibly others.
252. Since her dismissal, Satchel has been unable to find employment in her profession, partly due to the specter of impropriety that haunts her as a teacher dismissed for just cause.
253. Since her dismissal, Satchel has been unable to find employment in her profession, partly due to the ongoing investigation of her certificate.
254. Since her dismissal, Satchel has been unable to find employment in her profession, partly due to the stigma that exists among the general public concerning persons with emotional or mental illness.
255. Since her dismissal, Satchel has been unable to find employment in any profession, partly due to the stigma that exists toward an employee dismissed for misconduct.
256. Since her dismissal, Satchel has been unable to find employment in any profession, partly due to the stigma that exists among the general public concerning persons with emotional or mental illness.
257. The Defendants have deprived Satchel of her employment, professional reputation and career, and have negatively affected the substantial interest she had in her formal education, her reputation and her ability to earn a living now and in the future.
258. Satchel has been denied access to benefits to which she was entitled as an employee of the School Board of Hillsborough County and as an employee of a state agency.
259. Lennard and Kipley acted with malicious purpose or in a manner exhibiting wanton and willful disregard of human rights, safety, or property, exhibiting outrageous conduct, ill will, malice, improper motive, and indifference to Satchel’s basic and civil rights by destroying her livelihood and by forcing her to be without employment, without pay and without benefits.
260. As a result, Satchel has suffered severe emotional distress.
Employees who have been dismissed for misconduct are subject to negative background reports without their knowledge, and which they are unable to dispute as a result of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 (“FACTA”). Teachers who have been dismissed for just cause are subject to being reported to the Florida Department of Education’s database of terminated teachers, and also are subject to negative background reports through organizations like the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (“NASDTEC”). It is well-established that experienced teachers without professional references are generally unemployable. Since August 2004 to date, Satchel has been unable to secure employment in her profession. Since October 2004 to date, Satchel has been unable to secure gainful employment in any profession.
For personal reasons, Defendants committed the above-stated wrongful actions which carried with them foreseeable injury. Lennard’s and Kipley’s actions were intentional, reckless, and outrageous, and caused Satchel severe emotional distress. As a direct and proximate cause of the combined Defendants’ actions, Satchel was injured. She has suffered injury through loss of wages and benefits, loss of esteem and reputation, loss of enjoyment of life, pain and suffering, despair, mental anxiety, and loss of ability to obtain employment despite the formal education and credentials which she possesses. The losses have occurred in the past and will continue into the future. The losses are permanent.
Wherefore, Satchel respectfully requests the following relief against Defendants: compensatory damages, back pay, front pay, reasonable pro se legal fees and all costs of this court; and other general and special relief as are just and equitable, to the fullest extent of the law for the violations declared herein.
Debra Satchel, Pro Se
P. O. Box 2204
Brandon, FL 33509-2204
Telephone: (813) 230-0780
Plaintiff requests a jury for all claims so triable.
Debra Satchel, Pro Se
The undersigned, for herself, declares: I am the pro se Plaintiff in the above-captioned action. I prepared the foregoing complaint. Regarding the causes of action alleged by me, the same are true by my own knowledge.
I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States of America that the foregoing is true and correct.
Debra Satchel, Pro Se
CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE
I HEREBY CERTIFY that on March 6, 2008 I provided a copy of the foregoing document to the following through the Clerk of Courts:
School Board of Hillsborough County
c/o Thompson, Sizemore & Gonzalez
P.O. Box 639
Tampa, FL 33602-0639
Linda A. Kipley
6106 Audubon Manor Blvd.
Lithia, FL 33547-5031
Earl J. Lennard
P.O. Box 1731
Riverview, FL 33568-1731
Florida Department of Financial Services
ATTN: Alex Sink
200 East Gaines Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0338