Court Dismisses Jilted Coach’s Claims

Jul 31, 2009

A federal judge from the Western District of Washington has granted a defendant school district’s motion for summary judgment against a coach, who alleged that the school discriminated against her when it did not renew her coaching contract.
The court found specifically that the plaintiff, Terra Solkey, failed to present enough evidence in support of her claim that the school discriminated against her on the basis of her gender.
Solkey was the coach of the girl’s basketball team at Sequoyah Middle School when the principal decided to reopen the hiring for all basketball coaching positions “to pursue applications from a larger pool of potential coaches.”
After another coach was selected, the plaintiff appealed, filing a written complaint with the superintendent of schools, who determined that the decision was not gender based. She next filed a Title VII complaint with the EEOC. That claim was also dismissed.
This ultimately led to the federal claim, which effectively included among other things, that her Constitutional rights were violated and that she was retaliated against in violation of Title IX.
The defendant moved for summary judgment.
Looking first at the due process claim, the court found that the defendant successfully argued that there was no property interest to the renewal of a one-year coaching contract under Washington law.
As for the retaliation claim, the court noted that several coaches did not have their contracts renewed, and that the plaintiff failed to demonstrate that the defendant’s proffered non-discriminatory reasons were pretext for a more discriminatory reason.
Solkey v. Federal Way School Dist.; W.D. Washington; No. C08-0438 MJP, 2009 WL 1458927; 5/26/09


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