United States District Court, D. New Jersey
July 29, 2004.
BARBARA ANN EMRI, Plaintiff,
EVESHAM TOWNSHIP BOARD OF EDUCATION, JOHN F. BIGLEY, JOHN G. DYER, III, FRANK B. SAMA, DEBORAH IEPSON, JAN RITTER, SHERRILL HUSTON, JOHN HAMPSHIRE, CAROL WAGNER, APRIL PEPPARD, DENISE JIAMPETTI, ROBIN JOHNSTON, LISA VENTURI, IRIS AUERBACH, ANGELA DENNISTON, IRENE ROMANELLI, and JOHN DOES 1-99, Defendants.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: JEROME SIMANDLE, District Judge
Plaintiff, Barbara Ann Emri, a tenured teacher in Evesham
Township, taught in Evesham Township's Demasi Middle School from
the fall of 1998 until March 17, 2000. During her time at the
Middle School, the administration received repeated complaints
from parents, students, and teachers that Ms. Emri was rude to
the students in her classes, including special needs students,
made racist remarks while teaching, was insensitive to parental
concerns, and sought to intimidate her colleagues from
complaining about her conduct. As a result, on March 17, 2000,
the Superintendent of Schools suspended Ms. Emri and notified her
that the Board of Education intended to initiate tenure dismissal
A tenure dismissal charge for "conduct unbecoming a teacher"
was filed against Ms. Emri on May 12, 2000, which included
fifty-six incidents for which the Board believed Ms. Emri had
conducted herself in a manner "unbecoming a teacher." The charge
has been litigated before the Board of Education, the
Commissioner of Education, the Office of Administrative Law, the
State Board of Education, and finally, before the Superior Court
of New Jersey, Appellate Division in an appeal filed on January
13, 2004. Presently, it is undisputed that Ms. Emri conducted
herself in a manner unbecoming a teacher during twenty-one of the
fifty-six initially alleged incidents, as the sole issue pending
on appeal relates to the appropriate penalty for her conduct on
Meanwhile, Ms. Emri filed the present suit on March 15, 2002,
in New Jersey Superior Court, Burlington County, alleging that
the defendants, all employees of the Evesham Township School
District,*fn1 violated her Fourteenth Amendment right to due
process, and her First Amendment right to free speech, in
violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, by pursuing the tenure charges,
and are also "liable to Plaintiff for Intentional Infliction of
Emotional Distress, Interference with Contract & Economic
Opportunity, Defamation and False Light, Invasion of Privacy,
Abuse of Process,*fn2 and for any other causes of action
allowed by law." (Complaint ¶ 73.)
The defendants removed the action to federal court on August
21, 2002, and filed the present motion for summary judgment on
June 18, 2004. [Docket Item 15-1.] The defendants seek summary
judgment in their favor on all charges; the plaintiff only
opposes summary judgment as to the due process and malicious
prosecution claims. The Court heard the arguments of counsel on
July 21, 2004, and, for the reasons stated herein, will grant
summary judgment in favor of the defendants and will dismiss
plaintiff's complaint with prejudice.
In 1994, plaintiff Barbara Ann Emri, then teaching a Fourth
Grade class at the Beeler Elementary School, achieved tenure
status in the Evesham Township School District. (Undisputed Facts
¶ 2.) She received positive evaluations, maintained a "good
rapport with her children, parents and colleagues," and "showed
concern for all students." (Pl. Exs. 2, 6, 7.) Ms. Emri was then
transferred to teach a Sixth Grade class the Demasi Middle School
for the 1998-1999 school year, (Undisputed Facts ¶ 3), where the
problems underlying this lawsuit began.
Almost immediately, administrators at the Demasi Middle School
had begun receiving complaints about Ms. Emri's treatment of her
students. On October 16, 1998, Defendants Frank Sama, School
Principal, and Deborah Iepson, School Vice-Principal, met with
Ms. Emri about an October 1st complaint that Ms. Emri had been
unresponsive and rude to a student's questions and about an
October 15th complaint that Ms. Emri had belittled a student's
spelling skills in front of her classmates, allegations that Ms.
Emri denied. (Undisputed Facts ¶¶ 5-7.) On November 18, 1998,
Vice-Principal Iepson met with Ms. Emri again about a complaint
that Ms. Emri had taken the coat of a special needs student who
had taken another student's pen, and "scream[ed] that [he] needs
to learn that he can't have the coat if he takes the pen." (Id.
¶¶ 8-12; Donio Cert., Ex. E.) Again, Ms. Emri denied the
allegations. (Pl. Facts ¶¶ 9, 11.)
The complaints about Ms. Emri continued and, on January 21,
1999, Principal Sama and Vice-Principal Iepson met with Ms. Emri
and a teachers' union representative about ten additional parent
complaints, involving allegations that she had an inappropriate
demeanor toward children, that she was abrupt, argumentative, and
unreceptive to parental concerns, and that she sought retribution
against any student who complained about her. (Pl. Ex. 11; Donio
Cert., Exs. F, G.) These four individuals met again in February,
March, and April 1999, to "discuss ways Ms. Emri might change
matters for the better." (Id., Exs. H, I.)
The administration continued to receive complaints about Ms.
Emri. Vice-Principal Iepson, on Ms. Emri's June 21, 1999
performance evaluation, wrote that Ms. Emri "has experienced
difficulty in attempting to maintain a positive and comfortable
classroom environment for some of her students," that "[t]here
are documented incidents when [Ms. Emri] has made parents and
students feel uncomfortable about their concerns," and that she
"tends to experience difficulty with the same students once a
concern has been raised." (Pl. Ex. 13.) Ms. Emri opposed the
review and stated that she had been "unfairly and incorrectly
accused" as the complaints about her conduct were "not true and
blown out of proportion by students and parents." (Id.)
The administration continued to document complaints about Ms.
Emri. During the spring of 1999, for example, Vice Principal
Iepson reported that when she asked Ms. Emri about a certain
student, she responded that "he is just your typical nigger."
(Donio Cert., Ex. L at 5.) Then, in the fall of 1999, students
complained that, when studying a book on racial tolerance
entitled The Cay, Ms. Emri told them that she once had taught
African American students who "seemed fascinated with the texture
of [her] hair" and acted like "little monkeys picking their
The complaints continued and, by early 2000, nine children had
been removed from her classes because they "become so intimidated
by [Ms. Emri] that they feared coming to school" and would
sometimes feign illness so that they would not need to attend her
class. (Donio Cert., Exs. L, O.)
As a result, on March 17, 2000, Superintendent Bigley met with
Ms. Emri and informed her that she was being suspended with pay
as he intended to file tenure dismissal charges against her.
(Id., Exs. J, K, L.) At the meeting Mr. Bigley read Ms. Emri
the following statement:
The purpose of this meeting is very serious.
Effective immediately you are suspended, with pay,
from your teaching duties. You have a letter that
details the reasons for this action. Many of your
colleagues have stepped forward to describe and
express concern regarding your treatment of students.
More than 30 students/parents have also expressed
I intend to file tenure dismissal charges with the
Board Secretary by next Friday, March 24, 2000.
Between now and then you will be given the
opportunity to resign your position. It is my hope
that this will occur.
You will be escorted back to your classroom to remove
your personal items from the room. You are to return
your keys and roll book. You are to have no contact
with any of the involved students, staff, parents or
administrators of the district. You are not permitted
in or around any of the district facilities.
I regret having to take this action, but the facts
made it necessary for the best interest of the
children, staff and school district.
(Id., Ex. K.) Mr. Bigley provided Ms. Emri with a fifteen-page
single-spaced letter detailing the complaints received about her
between November 1998 and March 14, 2000, which caused the
administration to believe that she had "consistently and
repeatedly mistreated children" and should be removed from her
position. (Id., Ex. L.) Ms. Emri was then escorted to her
classroom and from the school premises. (Undisputed Facts ¶ 29.)
She continued to receive full pay and benefits during this
initial period of suspension. (Donio Cert., Ex. K.)
Ms. Emri did not file a letter of resignation, so the Board of
Education filed tenure dismissal charges against her on May 12,
2000 which detailed fifty-six counts of "conduct unbecoming a
teacher." (Id., Ex. M.) The charges were separated into
categories of "inappropriate behavior towards students,"
"inappropriate treatment of colleagues," and "insubordination to
administrators." (Id.) Ms. Emri was served a notice of the
tenure charges, a written statement of the charges, and a copy of
the verified statements of evidence on which the charges were
based. (Id.) The verified statements of evidence were provided
by Principal Sama, Vice-Principal Iepson, Superintendent Bigley,
and teachers Iris Auerbach, Irene Romanelli, Lisa Venturi, Robin
Johnston, and Denise Jiampetti, all defendants in this action.
(Id.) Ms. Emri was provided fifteen days to file a written
statement of her position and evidence in her defense, and was
informed that the matter would be considered at a special meeting
convened on May 30, 2000. (Id.)
In response to the charges, Ms. Emri sent a letter to the Board
on May 22, 2000 stating that:
Needless to say, Ms. Emri denies each and every one
of the charges set forth in the "complaint" prepared
by the Board's lawyer. There appears to be no purpose
in laying out Ms. Emri's defense in detail at this
juncture since it is painfully obvious that the Board
and its administration have already determined to
certify charges against her. . . .
Fortunately, Ms. Emri's fate will not lie in the
hands of this Board. . . . The case will be heard by
an administrative law judge and any determination
reviewed by the Commissioner of Education. Each and
every one of Ms. Emri's accusers will be required to
testify in the tenure proceeding and Ms. Emri will
have the opportunity to confront and cross-examine
them. Ms. Emri looks forward to this
opportunity. . . .
Know this Ms. Emri intends to vigorously defend
herself against these unfounded charges and, in the
process, will hold each and every one of her accusers
accountable for their statements and actions.
(Donio Cert., Ex. N.)
The special Board meeting was held on May 30, 2000, and the
Board of Education found probable cause that Ms. Emri had
conducted herself in a manner unbecoming a public school teacher
during all fifty-six incidents charged. (Undisputed Facts ¶ 37;
Donio Cert., Ex. P at 1.) The Board forwarded the charges to the
Commissioner of Education, and then, pursuant to N.J.S.A.
18A:6-14 suspended Ms. Emri without pay for 120 calendar days.
(Undisputed Facts ¶¶ 38-39.) When the administrative proceeding
was not completed within 120 calendar days of the Board's
certification, the Board of Education, pursuant to N.J.S.A.
18A:6-14, continued Ms. Emri's suspension, but reinstated her
full pay and benefits on the 121st day until the completion of
the administrative appeal process. (Id. ¶ 39.)
Upon receipt and review of the matter, the Commissioner of
Education forwarded the case on June 19, 2000 to the Office of
Administrative Law for a hearing before an Administrative Law
Judge (ALJ); the case was assigned to ALJ Beatrice S. Tylutki.
(Id. ¶ 40.) The hearing began on October 11, 2000. (Donio
Cert., Ex. P at 3.) The Board's presentation lasted for twelve
scheduled hearing days over the course of several months; during
this presentation, the Board withdrew twenty-two of the fifty-six
charges. (Id. at 2.) Then, after the Board's presentation, Ms.
Emri filed a motion to dismiss the remaining counts, arguing that
the Board had not established that each established conduct
unbecoming a teacher. (Id.) On September 28, 2001, ALJ Tylutki
issued an order dismissing thirteen additional counts for not
rising to the level of conduct unbecoming a teacher. (Id.) The
hearing resumed on October 24, 2001 for plaintiff's presentation
and continued for an additional seven hearing days until the
record was closed on January 25, 2002. (Id. at 2-3.)
ALJ Tylutki then issued a comprehensive seventy-page decision
on August 30, 2002, finding that the Board had established that
Ms. Emri conducted herself in a manner unbecoming of a public
school teacher on all twenty-one of the remaining counts.
Specifically, she found that the Board had met is burden on ten
counts "show[ing] a pattern of inappropriate behavior during a
three-school-year period . . . toward students who questioned her
authority, were disruptive or did not follow the rules," six
counts "show[ing] a pattern of insensitivity to the special needs
of special education students or other students in the inclusion
classes," three counts "show[ing] that Emri attempted to
discourage students from complaining about her," two counts
"show[ing] that Emri used the word `nigger'" and one count
"show[ing] that Emri compared African American girls to monkeys."
(Donio Cert., Ex. P at 66.) ALJ Tylutki recommended as discipline
forfeiture of the 120 days' salary that was withheld during her
suspension, a suspension without pay for the 2002-2003 school
year, a two-step lowering of salary upon her return the following
school year, and mandatory attendance of classes regarding anger
management, handling of disruptive students, and techniques for
teaching special education students in inclusion classes. (Id.
The Commissioner of Education issued his final decision on
October 21, 2002, finding that the Board had sustained its burden
for the 21 counts, but modifying the penalty to require a
permanent one-step reduction in salary and forfeiture of the 120
days' salary previously withheld and forfeiture of an additional
six months' salary. (Donio Cert., Ex. Q.)
The parties cross-appealed to the State Board of Education,
with the Board arguing that Ms. Emri's dismissal would be the
appropriate remedy, and with Ms. Emri arguing that the charges
should be dismissed. (Id., Ex. R.) In a December 3, 2003
Opinion, the State Board of Education affirmed the decision of
the Commissioner, adding only a requirement that Ms. Emri attend
the mandatory classes initially recommended. (Id.) Ms. Emri
filed a notice of appeal of the State Board's decision to the
Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, on January 13,
2004, arguing only that the penalty should not include
withholding of salary increments during the period of suspension.
(Donio Cert., Ex. S.) This entire administrative procedure
received attention from the press. (Pl. Ex. 15.)
The present suit was initiated on March 15, 2002, after the
administrative record had been closed, but before ALJ Tylutki
issued his initial August 30, 2002 decision. (Id., Ex. A.) Ms.
Emri filed the suit in New Jersey Superior Court, Burlington
County, alleging that the defendants violated her Fourteenth
Amendment right to due process, and her First Amendment right to
free speech, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, by pursuing the
tenure charges, and that the defendants are also "liable to
Plaintiff for Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress,
Interference with Contract & Economic Opportunity, Defamation and
False Light, Invasion of Privacy, Abuse of Process, and for any
other causes of action allowed by law." (Complaint ¶ 73.) The
defendants removed the action to federal court on August 21,
2002, and filed the present motion for summary judgment on June
18, 2004. (Donio Cert., Ex. T.)
The Court heard the arguments of counsel on July 21, 2004, at
which time plaintiff's counsel stated that plaintiff does not
oppose summary judgment as to the First Amendment,*fn3
intentional infliction of emotional distress,*fn4 tortious
interference with contract and economic opportunity,*fn5
defamation,*fn6 and false light invasion of privacy*fn7
claims. Summary judgment for defendants upon these claims is
appropriate, and will be granted in the accompanying order.
Plaintiff filed opposition to summary judgment on the due process
and malicious prosecution claims, which the Court has considered.
For the reasons stated herein, the Court will grant summary
judgment in favor of the defendants on both claims and will
dismiss this suit with prejudice.
A. Standard of Review
Summary judgment is appropriate when the record shows that
"there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the
moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). A dispute is "genuine" if "the evidence is such
that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving
party." See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242,
248 (1986). A fact is "material" only if it might affect the
outcome of the suit under the applicable rule of law. Id. In
deciding whether there is a disputed issue of material fact, the
court must view the evidence in favor of the non-moving party by
extending any reasonable favorable inference to that party. Hunt
v. Cromartie, 526 U.S. 541, 552 (1999).*fn8
1. Procedural Due Process Claim
Defendants argue that there is no reasonable factfinder could
conclude that they violated her procedural due process rights
when they brought the tenure charges against her.*fn9
Plaintiff, though, asserts that she was deprived of her property
interest in continued pay and benefits as a tenured teacher
because (1) her suspension on March 17, 2000 was without prior
notice or an opportunity to be heard, and (2) the administrative
proceeding lasted 880 days before the Commissioner of Education
issued his decision. (Pl. Br. at 10, 12.)*fn10
42 U.S.C. § 1983 provides a remedy for individuals whose
Constitutional rights have been violated by persons acting under
color of state law. See, e.g., McCullough v. City of Atlantic
City, 137 F. Supp.2d 557, 564 (D.N.J. 2001) (citing
42 U.S.C. § 1983). To establish a cause of action under § 1983, a plaintiff
must show (1) there was a violation of a right secured by the
Constitution and laws of the United States, and (2) the alleged
violation was committed by a person acting under color of state
law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988) (citations
omitted). For purposes of this motion, the defendants have not
disputed their status as persons acting under color of state law.
They have, though, argued that there is no question that they did
not deprive plaintiff of her Fourteenth Amendment right to due
The Fourteenth Amendment requires procedural due process prior
to the deprivation of a property interest, such as plaintiff's
interest in her tenure status. See Nicholas v. Pennsylvania
State University, 227 F.3d 133, 142 (3d Cir. 2000). Procedural
due process requires notice and an opportunity to be heard "at a
meaningful time and in a meaningful manner" that is "appropriate
to the nature of the case." Armstrong v. Manzo, 380 U.S. 545,
552 (1985); Mullane v. Central Hanover Trust Co., 339 U.S. 306,
Plaintiff asserts that she was not provided procedural due
process because she was not provided notice and an opportunity to
be heard prior to her initial suspension with pay on March 17,
2000. (Pl. Br. at 10.) In support of her argument, she cites
Jefferson v. Jefferson County Public School System, where the
Sixth Circuit "assume[d] for purposes of this appeal that the
five-day suspension without pay and coerced retirement constitute
the deprivation of a property interest requiring a pre-loss
hearing, which requires an opportunity to respond before any
deprivation, as well as post-deprivation process where
necessary." Jefferson, 360 F.3d 583, 587 (6th Cir. 2004).
Plaintiff's reliance on Jefferson is misplaced. First, the
Jefferson court confronted a situation where the teacher was
immediately suspended without pay. Here, in contrast, plaintiff
was suspended with pay and was provided notice that dismissal
charges would be brought against her. Ms. Emri was not deprived
of any pay or benefits associated with her tenured position until
after the May 30, 2000 meeting of the Board of Education, for
which she had been provided notice of the fifty-six charges, a
copy of the evidence supporting them, and time to present her own
position in writing and orally, and to provide evidence. It was
only after consideration of the positions of the parties and the
evidence, of which plaintiff provided nothing but her statement
that she would litigate the issue and hold her accusers
accountable, that the Board of Education suspended plaintiff for
120 days without pay. Prior to that date, she was not deprived of
any property interest for purposes of the due process clause.
See Edwards v. California University of Pennsylvania,
156 F.3d 488, 492 (3d Cir. 1998) (holding that "temporary removal
from class duties . . . does not constitute a deprivation of
employment" for purposes of procedural due process).
Plaintiff, therefore, was provided sufficient pre-deprivation
process. Indeed, the Third Circuit has held that where there are
substantial post-deprivation remedies, pre-termination due
process only requires notice, explanation of the charges, and an
opportunity to respond, all of which this plaintiff was provided.
See McDaniels v. Flick, 59 F.3d 446, 456 (3d Cir. 1995); see
also Jefferson, 360 F.3d at 587. Here, the post-deprivation
procedures afforded by New Jersey law are meaningful and
substantial, and plaintiff has made use of them.
The Evesham Township Board of Education complied with New
Jersey's Tenure Employee Hearing Law when it provided plaintiff,
in writing, charges of her "unbecoming conduct," and underlying
statements signed by interested parties, prior to a hearing by
the Commissioner of Education. See N.J.S.A. 18A:6-10.*fn11
Indeed, the Board of Education was required by statute to conduct
the initial Board hearing, where Ms. Emri declined the
opportunity to submit evidence, prior to submitting the charge to
the Commissioner for a hearing. See N.J.S.A.
18A:6-11.*fn12 The Evesham Township Board of Education
followed the statutory scheme by providing Ms. Emri with "a copy
of the charge, a copy of the statement of the evidence, and an
opportunity to submit a written statement of position and a
written statement of evidence under oath with respect thereto,"
prior to considering the matter at a special meeting, and voting
whether there was "probable cause to credit the evidence in
support of the charge and whether such charge, if credited, is
sufficient to warrant a dismissal or reduction of salary." See
N.J.S.A. 18A:6-11. Then, the Board was to forward its "written
charge to the commissioner for a hearing pursuant to N.J.S.A.
18A:6-16," which it did. Indeed, plaintiff does not dispute that
each of these requirements was met.
Plaintiff argues, though, that defendants violated N.J.S.A.
18A:6-16 by suspending her prior to forwarding the charges to the
Commissioner. (Pl. Br. at 11.) It is clear that the Evesham Board
of Education had authority, upon its certification of the charge
to the Commissioner, to suspend plaintiff without pay for 120
days. See N.J.S.A. 18A:6-14.*fn13 Prior to that date,
plaintiff's suspension was with pay and does not provide the
basis for a procedural due process claim. See Edwards, 156
F.3d at 492. Regardless, the suspension was lawful pursuant to
N.J.S.A. 18A:25-6, which provides a school superintendent with
authority to suspend teachers under his supervision with the
approval of the President of the Board of Education. N.J.S.A.
18A:25-6;*fn14 see also Pl. Ex. 5.*fn15
Plaintiff also argues that she was denied procedural due
process because the administrative proceeding was not completed
within the 120 days of her suspension. She does not dispute that
she was returned to full-pay status on the 121st day, in
accordance with N.J.S.A. 18A:6-14. There is, however, no
requirement that the administrative process be completed within
120 days, and this forms no basis for a procedural due process
claim against the defendants. There is no evidence that the
defendants sought to lengthen, delay, or obstruct the process in
any way. Indeed, the defendants did not conduct the hearings,
which were promptly referred to the Office of Administrative Law
and convened before an administrative law judge.*fn16
Instead, the proceeding was completed in a timely manner, with
charges forwarded to the Commissioner of Education after the May
30, 2000 meeting, a decision by the Commissioner to refer the
matter to the Office of Administrative Law pursuant to N.J.S.A.
18A:6-16*fn17 on June 19, 2000, a nineteen-day hearing
before A.L.J. Tylutki beginning on October 11, 2000 and ending on
October 24, 2001, a decision by A.L.J. Tylutki on August 30,
2002, a decision by the Commissioner on October 21, 2002, and a
decision by the State Board of Education on December 2, 2003.
There is no question that plaintiff did not suffer any due
process violation caused by any defendant based on the length of
this administrative process.
The Court, therefore, finds that plaintiff has failed to point
to any evidence from which a reasonable factfinder could conclude
that she was deprived of procedural due process in the tenure
dismissal proceedings. The Court will grant summary judgment in
favor of the defendants on this claim.
2. Malicious Prosecution Claim
Defendants assert that summary judgment must also be granted on
plaintiff's malicious prosecution claim because there is no
possibility that the elements for such a claim have been met.
This Court agrees.
To establish a cause of action for malicious prosecution where
the underlying "prosecution" involved civil charges, a plaintiff
(1) the action was instituted by the defendant
against the plaintiff with malice and without
(2) the action terminated favorably to plaintiff, and
(3) the plaintiff suffered a "special grievance."
Kelsh v. Coddington, 295 N.J. Super. 51
, 58 (Law Div.), aff'd
295 N.J. Super. 1
(App. Div. 1996). The "law does not look with
favor upon actions for malicious prosecution" because "people
should not be inhibited in seeking redress in the courts."
Penwag Property Co., Inc. v. Landau, 76 N.J. 595
, 597 (1978)
(quoting Lind v. Schmid, 67 N.J. 255
, 262 (1975)).
Plaintiff asserts that she has a claim for malicious
prosecution here because, of the fifty-six counts that were
certified for the Commissioner, twenty-two were withdrawn by
defendants and thirteen were dismissed by the ALJ. Therefore, she
asserts that this matter "terminated favorably" to her on
thirty-five of the fifty-six counts. (Pl. Br. at 14.)
The action instituted against the plaintiff, though, was an
action for "conduct unbecoming a teacher," supported by fifty-six
incidents during which the defendants believed she had acted
inappropriately. In the end, the defendants established, with
finality, that she had conducted herself in a manner that was
inappropriate for a public school teacher during twenty-one of
those incidents. In this way, the action was not "terminated
favorably" to the plaintiff; instead, she was found to have
conducted herself in a manner unbecoming a teacher. Whether she
did so on fifty-six occasions, or twenty-one, is not critical to
the end result Ms. Emri is responsible for conduct that was
unbecoming a teacher and deserving of discipline. This finding
has been affirmed by the Commissioner of Education and by the
State Board of Education, and has not been appealed to the
Appellate Division of the Superior Court.*fn18
Thus, there is no question that the underlying charge that Ms.
Emri conducted herself in a manner unbecoming a teacher did not
"terminate favorably" to the plaintiff. Instead, she was found
responsible for the most grievous of the charges brought against
her, those relating to humiliating and berating students, who
often were special needs students, (Counts 1, 3, 5, 8, 22, 23,
25, 31, 34, 35), to making derogatory racial remarks, (Counts 2,
11, 12), and to intimidating students so that they would not
complain about her, (Counts 9, 13, 24). Under these
circumstances, where plaintiff's conduct on multiple occasions
has been found with finality to have been improper, there is
simply no evidence that she was maliciously prosecuted for
conduct unbecoming a teacher.*fn19 Therefore, this Court
will grant summary judgment in favor of the defendants on the
malicious prosecution claim.
For the foregoing reasons, this Court will grant summary
judgment in favor of the defendants on all counts and will
dismiss plaintiff's complaint with prejudice. The accompanying
order is entered.
This matter having come before the Court upon the motion of the
defendants for summary judgment on all claims contained in the
complaint filed by plaintiff Barbara Ann Emri, [Docket Item
15-1]; the Court having considered the parties' written
submissions as well as oral arguments made on July 21, 2004; for
the reasons expressed in Opinion of today's date;
IT IS this 29th day of July, 2004, hereby
ORDERED that the motion of defendants for summary judgment on
all claims in plaintiff's complaint, [Docket Item 15-1] be, and
hereby is, GRANTED; and
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff's complaint be, and
hereby is, DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.