United States District Court, D. Colorado
Kristen L. Mix United States Magistrate Judge
matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion
to Dismiss Plaintiff's First, Second, and Seventh
Claims [#14] (the “Motion”). Plaintiff
filed a Response [#20] in opposition to the Motion, and
Defendants filed a Reply [#24]. The Court has reviewed the
Motion, the Response, the Reply, the entire case file, and
the applicable law, and is sufficiently advised in the
premises. Based on the following, the Motion [#14] is
Peter Terrence Montoya (“Plaintiff”), brings this
suit against Defendants D.J. Latino (“Latino”),
in his individual capacity, Kathy DeNiro
(“DeNiro”), Phyllis Sanchez
(“Sanchez”) and Patty Milner
(“Milner”), in their individual and their
official capacities as members of the Pueblo City School
District No. 60 Board (the “Board”), and
Defendant the Pueblo City School District No. 60 (the
“Defendants”). Compl. [#1] at 1.
Plaintiff raises claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and
Colorado state law. Compl. [#1] ¶ 6.
alleges the following facts as the basis for his
claims. Plaintiff was employed as a teacher at
East High School (“Pueblo East”) in Pueblo,
Colorado, from August 2007 through June 2016. Id.
¶ 1. In 2007 and 2008, Plaintiff was on the Pueblo East
baseball coaching staff. Id. ¶ 1. Plaintiff
served as assistant baseball coach and JV head coach.
Id. ¶ 18. Plaintiff worked under the head
baseball coach at Pueblo East, Defendant Latino. Id.
During that time, some parents of Pueblo East students
expressed dissatisfaction with Defendant Latino as head coach
and that they desired Plaintiff to become head coach.
Id. Defendant Latino then made defamatory statements
about Plaintiff to administrators at Pueblo East, including
accusations that Plaintiff committed crimes and engaged in
unethical behavior. Id. ¶ 2. Defendant Latino
also requested that Plaintiff be banned from coaching
baseball at Pueblo East. Id.
a certain period of Plaintiff's employment as a teacher
at Pueblo East, an agreement between the District and the
Pueblo Education Association Inc. (the
“Agreement”) was in effect. Id. ¶
47. The Agreement, effective September 1, 2014, through
August 31, 2016, includes sections providing guidance on
“Teacher Rights” as well as “Athletic
Coaching Vacancies.” Id. ¶¶ 47-48.
The Teacher's Rights section provides that: (1) “A
teacher shall not be disciplined, reduced in compensation,
transferred, adversely evaluated, or otherwise inequitably
treated with regard to this agreement without just
cause;” (2) “A teacher shall be given prior
notice and afforded the opportunity of having representation
when she is to receive any formal written discipline by the
Board . . .” and (3) “Once Administration has
determined that an investigation shall take place as the
result of a complaint . . . the teacher shall be notified
promptly . . .” Id.
15, 2015, Defendant Latino resigned from the position of head
baseball coach. Id. ¶ 3. In his letter of
resignation, which Defendant Latino forwarded by email to
Defendant DeNiro, Defendant Latino made additional defamatory
statements about Plaintiff and reiterated his desire that
Plaintiff be banned from coaching baseball at Pueblo East.
Id. Defendant DeNiro then forwarded Defendant
Latino's resignation letter to Defendants Sanchez and
the position for head baseball coach was posted, Plaintiff
applied and interviewed for the position. Id. ¶
4. He thereafter received the Selection Committee's
recommendation and the endorsement of the Pueblo East
Superintendent. Id. Based on Plaintiff's
allegations, it appears that the hiring process involved
placing applicants' names on the Board meeting agenda in
order for the Board to vote on the applicants'
appointments. Id. ¶¶ 27-32.
Plaintiff's name, however, was not placed on the
Board's agenda for the July 2015 Board meeting, was
removed from the August 2015 agenda, and the Board voted to
remove Plaintiffs name from the agenda in the September 2015
Board meeting. Id. ¶¶ 27-32. The Board
nonetheless held a vote in the September 2015 Board meeting
regarding Plaintiffs appointment. Id. ¶ 33. Two
Board members voted in favor of Plaintiffs appointment as
head baseball coach, and three Board members, Defendants
DeNiro, Sanchez, and Milner, voted against Plainitffs
appointment. Id. Based on Plaintiffs allegations,
the Board members' decision to deny Plaintiff the
position was based on a “personnel issue.”
Id. Plaintiff did not receive notice regarding the
nature of the personnel issue and did not receive a hearing
to address it. Id.
requested and received copies of his building, personnel, and
athletic files, and none showed any negative personnel issues
or adverse actions against Plaintiff. Id. ¶ 35.
In October 2015, Plaintiff made a request for records under
the Colorado Open Records Act (“CORA”) and
discovered Defendant Latino's resignation letter that
included the defamatory statements about Plaintiff.
Id. ¶ 5.
Claims One and Two, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants DeNiro,
Sanchez, and Milner conspired to deprive him of his
procedural due process rights and that he was actually
deprived of procedural due process. Id. ¶¶
71-73, 79-82. In Claim Seven, Plaintiff also alleges that the
District violated Colorado's Open Meetings Law because
Defendants DeNiro, Sanchez, and Milner communicated by email,
a forum not open to the public, regarding their decisions
about hiring Plaintiff as head baseball coach. Id.
¶¶ 115-123. Additionally, Plaintiff brings several
state law claims, the substance of which are not at issue
currently, solely against Defendant Latino.
Motion [#14] seeks partial dism issal of Plaintiff's
Complaint [#1] pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P 12(b)(6).
Defendants move to dismiss Plaintiff's first, second, and
seventh claims, which arise under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and
C.R.S. § 24-6-402(2)(b). Compl. [#1] at 14-15,
20. Defendants contend that dismissal of these claims is
appropriate for the following reasons: (1) Plaintiff does not
have a property right in the position of Pueblo East's
baseball coach; (2) Defendants named in their individual
capacities are entitled to qualified immunity; and (3)
Plaintiff does not allege sufficient facts to support a claim
that the Board violated the Colorado Open Meetings Law.
Motion [#14] at 4-7. Because of the Court's
conclusions regarding Plaintiff's lack of a protected
property interest in the head coaching position, the Court
does not address Defendants' qualified immunity argument.
Standard of Review
purpose of a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) is
to test “the sufficiency of the allegations within the
four corners of the complaint after taking those allegations
as true.” Mobley v. McCormick, 40 F.3d 337,
340 (10th Cir. 1994); Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) (stating that a
complaint may be dismissed for “failure to state a
claim upon which relief can be granted”). “The
court's function on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is not to
weigh potential evidence that the parties might present at
trial, but to assess whether the plaintiff's complaint
alone is legally sufficient to state a claim for which relief
may be granted.” Sutton v. Utah State Sch. for the
Deaf & Blind, 173 F.3d 1226, 1236 (10th Cir. 1999)
(citation omitted). To withstand a motion to dismiss pursuant
to Rule 12(b)(6), “a complaint must contain enough
allegations of fact to state a claim for relief that is
plausible on its face.” Robbins v. Oklahoma,
519 F.3d 1242, 1247 (10th Cir. 2008) (quoting Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007));
see also Shero v. City of Grove, Okla., 510 F.3d
1196, 1200 (10th Cir. 2007) (“The complaint must plead
sufficient facts, taken as true, to provide ‘plausible
grounds' that discovery will reveal evidence to support
the plaintiff's allegations.” (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570)).
claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads
factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009). “A pleading that offers labels and conclusions
or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of
action will not do. Nor does a complaint suffice if it
tenders naked ...