Louisiana Record

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Court dismisses federal discrimination claims in suit against Tangipahoa Parish School Board


By Chandra Lye | Jan 22, 2019

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NEW ORLEANS -- The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana has partially granted motions to dismiss an employment discrimination lawsuit against members of the Tangipahoa Parish School Board. 

In a Jan. 2 ruling, U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo dismissed federal conspiracy claims against the school board and board members Walter Daniels and Ossie Mark Kolwe in the suit filed by Kim Notariano. The judge also dismissed discrimination claims against Kolwe and Daniels.

Notariano filed the suit alleged employment discrimination and retaliation after the school board decided not to hire her as the board's director of transportation on two separate occasions. The suit alleges Notariano was discriminated against her in violation of state and federal law on the basis of race, age, and sex.   

“Plaintiff alleges that defendants Kolwe and Daniels conspired to violate her rights by intentionally discriminating against her and preventing her from being hired as the board’s director of transportation,” Milazzo saidf in the filing. “For the purposes of this suit, Kolwe and Daniels constituted a single legal entity and thus could not conspire as a matter of federal law.”

Kolwe and Daniels also filed a motion to dismiss on grounds of qualified immunity. 

“The court notes that nowhere in the five versions of plaintiff’s complaint nor in her briefs is it clear exactly what constitutional or statutory violations she alleges against Kolwe and Daniels individually,” Milazzo said. 

She added that Notariano failed to allege specific facts against Kolwe and Daniels to prove they discriminated against her, according to the court decision. 

“The mere fact that younger people were hired for the position she sought is not sufficient to overcome defendants’ qualified immunity defenses to these claims,” the court decision stated. 

However, the court noted that Notariano's alleged facts were sufficient to show that Kolwe and Daniels violated federal law. 

“She alleges that Kolwe said he would ‘never’ hire her and that he was ‘going to teach her a lesson’ because she filed this lawsuit against him,” Milazzo wrote. 

“Similarly, t alleges that Daniels said he would ‘never’ vote to approve Notariano for the director of transportation position because she filed this lawsuit against him,” the court document stated.

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