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United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division
January 18, 2018, Decided; January 18, 2018, Filed
OPINION AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on Magistrate Judge Alan J. Baverman's Non-Final Report and Recommendation  ("Non-Final R&R"). The Non-Final R&R recommends that the Court grant in part and deny in part Defendants Cobb County School District and Chris Ragsdale's (collectively, "Defendants") Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint  ("Motion to Dismiss"). Also before the Court are Defendant Cobb County School District's Objections to the Magistrate's Non-Final R&R  ("Objections").
In 1998, Plaintiff began working for Cobb County School District ("CCSD") as a teacher at Vaughan Elementary School. (First Amended Complaint  ¶ 11). In 2004, [*2] Plaintiff became Assistant Administrator of Bullard Elementary School ("Bullard"). (Id. ¶ 12). Two years later, in 2006, Plaintiff became Assistant Principal of Bullard. (Id. ¶ 13). During the 2014-15 school year, Plaintiff and several other teachers implemented in the classrooms breathing and stretching exercises based on yoga2 and meditation3 in an effort to reduce stress and encourage relaxation among Bullard's teachers and students. (Id. ¶ 16). Plaintiff did not consider the techniques to be religious or based in religion. (Id. ¶ 17). Plaintiff is a practicing Christian. (Id. ¶ 15).
The mindfulness practices consisted of techniques used to promote general well-being, facilitate education, and reduce disruptive behaviors. (Id. ¶ 18). With teacher input, Plaintiff and others also decorated a faculty room with soft lighting, fountains, and peaceful music, and designated it a place where faculty could relax in a quiet environment: where they could "take a few deep breaths, color mandalas,4 or play with kinetic sand." (Id. ¶ 20). In July 2015, Plaintiff became a licensed reiki practitioner5 and opened a side business offering reiki [*3] services to the public. (Id. ¶¶ 25-26). She alleges she did not perform reiki or promote her practice at the school. (Id. ¶¶ 25-26). The mindfulness program was similar to programs introduced elsewhere in CCSD, including the Department of Physical Education and the county counseling department. (Id. ¶ 22).
In February 2016, Bullard sent a newsletter to parents stating that mindfulness practices included "piping music through the hallways," "decorating and painting," "yoga sequences," and "mindful quiet time." (Id. ¶ 19). After implementing the mindfulness practices, Bullard documented a thirty-three-percent decrease in disruptive behaviors and policy violations for the period spanning November 2, 2015, through March 4, 2016. (Id. ¶¶ 23-24). During the 2015-16 school year, some parents who attended church with Defendant Ragsdale and the Chair of CCSD's board, Randy Scamihorn, made religion-based complaints to Ragsdale about Plaintiff's use of mindfulness practices at Bullard. (Id. ¶ 27). Ragsdale expressed his support for the complaints and advised the parents that such information "helps tremendously." (Id. ¶ [*4] 28).
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7923 *; 2018 WL 460127
BONNIE COLE, Plaintiff, v. COBB COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT and CHRIS RAGSDALE, Individually and in his capacity as Superintendent of COBB COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT, Defendants.
religion, allegations, practices, recommendation, religious, motion to dismiss, religious discrimination, plaintiff's claim, religious belief, complaints, unlawful employment practice, retaliation, Defendants', fails, retaliation claim, municipal, conform, yoga, municipal liability, qualified immunity, argues, adverse employment action, official capacity, discriminate, voted, pled, report and recommendation, national origin, protected class, alleged facts