Thursday, August 25, 2016

Deception?

"Dysfunctional" Amherst Pelham Regional School Committee

So when a lawyer uses the term "deception" in writing we should all sit up and take notice.


 Click to enlarge/read

Especially when she is talking about something not related to ensuring a paying client gets a good legal outcome.

Although in this case her client is really the entire town of Leverett  and they will end up being the saps who have to help cover the $309,000 payout over this regrettable matter.  Along with Amherst, Pelham, and Shutesbury.

When I first heard a few days ago that she had resigned my initial response was hardly one of surprise.  In fact I'm a little surprised a few more have not resigned.  Because obviously some of them are in w-a-y over their heads.

The official minutes of the exceedingly long four executive sessions were supposed to be released a week ago.

And if rookie Chair Laura Kent is withholding them even after her committee voted to release them and after publication by the Daily Hampshire Gazette of the "draft" minutes,  the chances are astronomically good that she will also refuse to release the original five page email from Maria Geryk to her buddy, attorney Giny Tate, outlining her initial demands for a $600K payout.

Apparently in that deleterious document, which attorney Tom Columb -- an associate of Giny Tate -- repossessed, Geryk trashed the reputations of RSC members Baptiste, Cage and Robb.

Coincidentally enough the same three members who were critical of her stewardship as Superintendent in the annual evaluations that have yet to be officially released by the Regional School Committee.

Which seems to indicate someone gave those evaluations to Maria Geryk in advance.  Probably the same ones who happily voted for her $309K payout.

Deception indeed!




71 comments:

Anonymous said...

It would be nice to depose all of the actors UNDER OATH!

Anonymous said...

What the HELL! These people should be burn at the stake.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Ed.

Anonymous said...

I despise ed but I don't think he said anything here yet. But yeah....BURN THEM !

Anonymous said...

Reading the individual school evaluations is fascinating. It appears that there are outliers and the typical rule of thumb is to throw out the highest (KF) and the lowest (VDC). Taking that approach into consideration, it does not appear that SC had an overall unfavorable evaluation of the superintendent; in fact it appears to be proficient. Based upon the all of the drama and positioning, the reality didn't shake out that way.

I personally got a kick out of TB's when he said, "I expect you to do better by not using the court of public opinion to cause spectacle." Coming from him and the fact that the superintendent was chastised for not sharing information, confidential or not, makes TB look particularly unreliable. He has made himself, by his own actions, appear as person who seeks out what he criticizes the superintendent for.

VDC's evaluation is laughable at best, and certainly holds no credibility or evidence for the extremely negative ratings.

I do not know this DR person or when he or RH left school committee; why do they even get to complete an evaluation? And, besides it looks like these two cancel each other out; again back to proficient overall.

Anonymous said...

I thought that the School Committee members' individual evaluations of the superintendent had been released. Didn't the Gazette publish them already & say they were given them by Laura Kent?

It is interesting too that the not yet released letter with Geryk's demands allegedly criticizes Dan Robb & not just the regular suspects Douangmany Cage & Baptiste. I thought people have said that since he played by the rules & submitted a compliant evaluation, he would be exempt from criticism. I guess the superitendent & her peeps didn't see it that way. I am not surprised. Robb was quite critical in his eval.

Larry Kelley said...

Yes they were published.

No they were not given to the Gazette by Laura Kent.

Anonymous said...

does the Amherst (elementary) evaluate the SI separately? when will those be released?

Anonymous said...

To Anon 4:48

I am with you. This is what should have happened from the beginning. (But, people in government apparently tell lies! So oaths must not matter to them.)

Anonymous said...

Whoa. Amherst is getting out of hand

Anonymous said...

Geryk trashed the reputations? Really? Seems like this blog is just filled with people trashing Ms Geryk's reputation. And the reputations of others. Some SC members seem to specialize in reputation trashing as well. And then there is the never - ending snide remarks by the owner of this blog. And no I am not Kurt.

Larry Kelley said...

I knew that.

But you're still a CAN.

Anonymous said...

What is most troubling is that SIs can limit teachers formal appeals to the SCs. I'm sure teachers approach committee members all the time, but there is no formal process.

And bullying and trashing reputations by Five Points Gang Boss style SIs and Principals does happen. http://neatoday.org/2012/05/16/bullying-of-teachers-pervasive-in-many-schools-2/

Good for Sarah Dolven ... it was probably the vomit- in -my- mouth -a -little experience after reading Kip Fonsh's fawning letter that did it for her.

Anonymous said...

Now that Dolven is leaving the Regional SC, does that mean that Fonsh will be joining it again? Who are Leverett's other SC members?

Anonymous said...

So long as everyone realizes that Larrys blog is basically "Gerry Springer " entertainment nothing really matters…
This blog doesn't change town government, never will, its just entertainment , Maria will get her money, Ed will make his nutty comments, etc etc … its just a blog with a goofy guy " larry" who can't won't find a real job…
enjoy the laughs !!

Anonymous said...

Leverett and Shutesbury should bail and join other districts. I can't imagine anyone wanting to join the RSC now unless they wore a paper bag over their head. unknown committee comic.

Dr. Ed said...

"What is most troubling is that SIs can limit teachers formal appeals to the SCs. I'm sure teachers approach committee members all the time, but there is no formal process."

Where the $#%% was/is the union on this?

There should be grieving this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
They have a fiduciary duty to their mrmbers....

Anonymous said...

Larry Kelly is a jerk....and this is not Kurt!

Larry Kelley said...

If you can't spell my name correctly, what else did you screw up?

RKA45 said...

ANON 642 All committee members that serve out a certain amount of time can fill out an eval. DR is from Pelham SC. He served until June. The newbies Kent and Ordoneas sp?? and Cranston didn't they were all new. (less than 10 weeks.) Dr had just as much right to fill out an eval as Kip Fonsh. Yes a few school committee member seemed to have miss the evals Sullivan from Shutesbury. He was having trouble with his internet and mentioned it to the people that needed to know but was unable to resolve the issue in time. DSL in Shutesbury does not work well enough to support Survey Monkey. It see,s there were a few others that missed evals as well. My question is why Tara Luce filled out an eval. I think it she should have had to recuse herself. IT must be odd with a boss like Maria to fill out an eval for her. How can she not be biased to protect herself. I am very disappointed in the evals from Pelham. At least most agree trouble with conflict resolution issues. Appy and Fonsh do not count for me much as Baptiste and Vera don't count for other people.
Anyway. I don;t think she should have seen them before hand but it makes perfect sense that she did how else did she know who to threaten to sue. He is some info Baptiste tried to set up a subcommittee to review the policy that didn't allow teachers and principals to talk to Sc members. Appy opposed looking at such a policy. Maria removed it from the agenda. However all of the sc members agreed it needed to be looked at. These policies are strong arm tactics and are disgusting.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1101 you have your facts wrong.
Trevor evaluated the SI outside the evaluation process several times over the last two years. He was warned several times that he was breaking the SI's contract every time he did it as and such behavior could result in a lawsuit. Hence the threatened law suit.
Trevor did not have to set up a subcommittee to look at the policy governing when and how teachers and principals talk to the SC. All that needed to happen was for the SC to vote to refer the question to the already existing Policy Subcommittee, which I believe happened. Maria does not make the SC agenda. The chair makes the agenda. There were no strong arm tactics. There may have been differences of opinion on what the policy should be, just as there are on any civic board. But there were no strong arm tactics.
Your post, like so many others on this blog, are filled with inaccuracies, untruths and in some cases outright lies.

Anonymous said...

With a family member serving as a longtime chair of the Leverett Board of Selectmen, we had long time issues of breaking the " Conflict of Interest" laws with the teachers union school nutz booster cheerleaders, who are just attempting to raise property taxes to support the salarys of those employed in "Education"..it has NOTHING to do with the oft heard battle cry " This is for the kids" ..more like-financial enrichment for those with shallow-fly by night ties to the community-no tenure-the Umass School of Education cliques bad..anyway-Kip Fonsh -who gave Maria Geryk glowing reviews upon his hiring her a few back-was in real violation of "Conflict of Interest" laws for many decades-as BOTH a regional teacher-teachers union boss- and Leverett AND regional school committee representative-this is just taxation without representation for the community's-real fraud-he was working as his own BOSS-approving and providing disipline for his own union ilk-this Maria Geryk debacle is the fruit of this evil tree of prolonged lawlessness-maybe the school nutz-need an education..in DEMOCRACY-now THEY PLAY-WE PAY-say it isn't soooo !!!

Dr. Ed said...

"Sullivan from Shutesbury. He was having trouble with his internet and mentioned it to the people that needed to know but was unable to resolve the issue in time. DSL in Shutesbury does not work well enough to support Survey Monkey."

This keeps getting better & better. In addition to all the legal issues involved in using Survey Monkey, let alone an elected public body doing an evaluation this way, but "DSL does not work well enough in Shutesbury to support Survey Monkey"?!?!?

I'm not surprised that it doesn't -- the Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) technology was never intended to work more than 1000 cable-feet from a TELC O switch, I suspect that mast of Shutesbury is further from a switch tan this.

Hence the citizens of Shutesbury were subjected to "taxation without representation", I seem to remember we fought a war over that...

The Shutesbury Selectmen should be pissed -- they should demand Kent appear before them and explain why an alternative means of evaluation wasn't given to their member who was unable to represent them because of where he lives...

Dr. Ed said...

"Good for Sarah Dolven ... it was probably the vomit- in -my- mouth -a -little experience after reading Kip Fonsh's fawning letter that did it for her."

If she's an attorney, it well might be more of not wanting to get dragged into this mess any further than she already is. She may have made her own call to the AGO -- or they may have called her, she may now be a "cooperating witness."

Or it might have been Kent's refusal to obey the law (i.e. release the minutes) until after she can meet with the AGO. To an attorney, that has DANGER! written all over it.

Dr. Ed said...

,"Reading the individual school evaluations is fascinating. It appears that there are outliers and the typical rule of thumb is to throw out the highest (KF) and the lowest (VDC)."

Bullshite!

n=10 10-2=8 -- You ate throwing out 20% of your data, and there is no way that 20% if your data constitutes measuring error.

Above and beyond this,the only justification for discarding outliers is measuring error. So think logically here, do you honestly think Vera intended to give Maria a rating different from what the data indicates?

Taking that approach into consideration, it does not appear that SC had an overall unfavorable evaluation of the superintendent; in fact it appears to be proficient.

n=10, you lack validity to reach any conclusions on a quantitative basis. You have even less after discarding 29% of the data.

Based upon the all of the drama and positioning, the reality didn't shake out that way.

in addition to everything else, statistical data should not constitute a political decision. These are elected officials, the body as a whole has to reach a secision on Geryk, and that isn't statistical.

"VDC's evaluation is laughable at best, and certainly holds no credibility or evidence for the extremely negative ratings."

Vera's evaluation is valid because she represents thousands of people who, in theory, would say the same things. Her "credible evidence" is the fact that she won the election. That alone is enough to justify her evaluation.

Unless, of course, you wish to see Supts facing an annual plebiscite at the polls -- something which would, well, make things interesting....

Anonymous said...

Which deception are we talking about: 1) Geryk's, atty Tate's and Long's and Colombo's and Appy's and Kent's and Modestow's deceptive lie pretending "union 26" is a legal entity? 2) the deceptive lie to conceal the fact that, because the signature of a "union 26" representative is on Geryk's contract, Geryk's contract is null and void? 3) the deceptive lie to conceal the fact that the SC intentionally violates the Open Meeting Law and the MA Judicial Supreme Court rulings about evaluating the superintendent on a routine basis? 4) the deceptive lie that Geryk was forced out of the district because of those real mean black school committee people who dare to do their jobs in a competent manner? 5) the deceptive lie that Geryk's frivolous out-of-her-mind bullshit lawsuit threats have any merit? 6) the deceptive lie that Gery's lawsuit threats weren't designed ONLY to intimidate the SC into coughing up a half million dollars from our schools while school services get cut to the bone? 7) the deceptive lie that , Geryk, Tate and Columbo havn't been running our schools like the Mafia for over 5 years? or 8) any of the above named folks give a damn about our children or the schools they continue to bleed dry?

Anonymous said...

to the anons who relentlessly attack larry because you have nothing real or honest to say, you deserve to live in the totalitarian amherst regime you're helping to build. no single individual in our community has done more to defend our civil liberties, especially our 1st amendment right to free speech, than larry. we thank and honor you larry.

Anonymous said...

anon@1142:
there is no way that Trevor violated her contract by criticizing her in SC mtgs, despite Ms Geryk telling him that he couldn't (she lied). Why are you perpetrating a lie?

from her contract: clause 5
The committees, individually and collectively, shall, in their discretion, refer all criticisms, complaints and suggestions called to their attention to the superintendent for study and recommendation. If the Committees do not bring such a criticism, complaint or suggestion to the Superintendent, then that criticism, complaint or suggestion may not be included in or referred to in the evaluation of the Superintendent.

Anonymous said...

SC members have a legal duty to first evaluate the superintendent (before negotiating a contract dispute) in open session according to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court's ruling in District Attorney V. School Committee Of Wayland, 455 Mass. 561 (2009):

"While professional competence must first be discussed in open session, how that evaluation will factor into a contract or salary negotiation strategy may be suitable discussion for an executive session."

I wasn't a conspiracy theorist until now when I learned that Ms. Geryk's attorneys Tate and Long were the losing attorneys in the above 2009 case.

The evidence proves that Geryk, Tate and Long conspired to violate the most important Open Meeting Law decision by the highest court in the state, to extort over $300,000 from the Amherst Schools! WTF!!!!

Anonymous said...

I have a very real question:

Why is Maria Geryk completely leaving the school system?

Why doesn't she return to teaching? Or why doesn't she become principal of ARMS?

Its very typical for former university chancellors to return to teaching -or- became department chairs.

I do resent her taking 300,000 in return for nothing.

Anonymous said...

Douagmany is the only reason Geryk is leaving with $309,000. Douagmany can't seem to learn the rules for being a school committee member in the state of Massachusetts. Douagmany is also now trying to learn the laws regarding character defamation. Douagmany is the cause of Geryk's lawsuit. Douagmany broke a list of laws in her unprofessional, amateurish behavior. “Bring it on,” she says. Who does she think she is, Donald Trump? Since she represented the school communities and the superintendent had finally worn down from the unending abuse, Geryk threatened a suit against the school communities. It's a very simple cause effect situation.

Douagmany has no place on the school committee or any other public office. She could have used the lawful process and evaluated Geryk, like vast majority of other school committee members have always done. She didn't and that's the tip of the iceberg of problems Douagmany caused.

Also note that Douagmany is among the very newly elected members of the school committee. She is new, inexperienced and yet wants to brutishly take over the situation. How effective is that behavior when trying to move forward?

If Douagmany had not attempted character assassination of Geryk, and followed state law in superintendent evaluations, the school community would not be out $309, 000. If one bothers to actually read the evaluation data, one learns that 7 of 10 school committee members gave Geryk satisfactory marks, and that is in line with her history as Superintendent.

Anonymous said...

Ed, would you kindly spell Vira's first name correctly? Thanks

Anonymous said...

While no fan of many of the policies and programs from Ms Geryk, Vira has been a TERRIBLE SC member. One just needs to watch the most recent regional SC mtg after the ex session. It was clear she just asked questions for more air play (WTH!). I can imagine she has been dysfunctional as a SC member and her evaluation was a joke. As anyone knows from evaluations, someone that pretty much across the board is on an extreme end of the scale (negative in this case) they have a stick up their ass!

Larry Kelley said...

And you are?

Larry Kelley said...

And what do you have up your ass?

Anonymous said...

poop

Larry Kelley said...

Yeah, and plenty of it.

Anonymous said...

It appears that the Long, Appy and Kent block could care less about MA Open Meeting Laws, especially when it comes to protecting their friends and providing big payouts to the former SI. Given their behavior my guess is that they're willing to take the OML hit and pay the fine, the school district, state law and process be damned.

Lots of interesting references to Northern District v. School Committee of Wayland, 455 Mass. 561, 570-571 on Google. That's the case that Long and Tate lost back in 2009. Yes, they've been at this game for a while now.

https://www.socialaw.com/services/slip-opinions/slip-opinion-details/mary-alice-boelter-et-al-v.-wayland-board-of-selectmen

“...It is mind-boggling that certain small town officials decided, on the heels of a Supreme Judicial Court decision — to engage in almost precisely the same conduct disapproved by the highest court of Massachusetts - just two years earlier. The consequences of undercutting the public confidence in its public officials is obvious; deliberations were conducted in private, and any public debate is clearly devalued, if not mocked by decisions made before a public meeting has even begun. This is not just inconsistent with the democratic spirit; it is cavalier; and it is just plain wrong.

As the Supreme Judicial Court has declared:
"Open meetings provide an opportunity for each member of the governmental body to debate the issues and disclose their personal viewpoints before the governmental body reaches its decision on a matter of public policy. They also provide an opportunity for members of the public to hear the opinions of the members of the governmental body." School Committee at 570...”

Also more case details at: http://masscases.com/cases/sjc/455/455mass561.html

Thanks Larry for this blog and open comments section. I often don't agreed with you but this is a much needed forum for Amherst.

Michael H said...

I came across a Dr. Seuss quote that makes me think about Vira, Trevor and Steve, and the thankless but courageous school committee work they do for our children and schools:

"UNLESS SOMEONE LIKE YOU CARES A WHOLE AWFUL LOT, NOTHING IS GOING TO GET BETTER. IT'S NOT."

Katrina van Pelt said...

1:07 It's all Vira's fault? the venom with which you are going after her proves that she is not to blame.....you see, every once in a while, someone has the guts to stand up for what is right. I see that as courageous, and interestingly, the one's standing and speaking truth to power are the minorities, at least in relation to the hiss affair. If I remember correctly, it was Vira who noted that there didn't seem to be a printed policy surrounding stay away orders, in relation to the process by which a parent is afforded due process. no one else on the school committee asked why there wasn't one. It is the duty of the school committees to know which committee will communicate protocol to the community in a clear and open way. The SC failed to oversee the SI in this regard is my opinion. All this whining about Mrs Geryk's civil rights being violated is questionable....so much so, that the minorities on the SC, decided to become the voice for a member of our school community, who was being silenced and defamed. I have yet to see facts that counter what I have witnessed unfold. If Geryk was so concerned about her contract being violated, is there record of her bringing this matter to the SC before the Hiza affair happened? It appears to me that Geryk is accusing the SC of violating her contract and rights precisely the way she has violated a parents rights.....someone who was not elected to office, and has a way more legitimate claim to civil rights violations and defamation. To me it seems like she threatened suit and settled quickly before the truth of her actions come out. All signs in the evals. point to her handling of Ms. Hiza was in line with how she dealt with confrontation, namely, shutting down and cutting off all access, unless she controlled the access. It also seems she had help.

Anonymous said...

It is too bad neither Sullivsn nor former SC member Traphagen submitted evals for the superintendent. I would have liked to seen what they had to say. additionally, if Sullivsn's main reason for not submitting an eval is the bad internet service in Shutesbury, he should have been given other options.....& if he was not, it shows one more way in which the process of evaluating the superintendent is flawed.

Anonymous said...

Geryk has often seemed to be pretty unreceptive & defensive in the face of criticism, from SC members or from the public. I recall a public forum where following one parent's remarks, she stood up & chatised that parent for what they said. Geryk could have just let it go, as a Bette leader would have, but she did not. & that has happened with school committee members too, where even probing questions are defensively viewed as criticisms.

Anonymous said...

Ms Traphagen has not been on the SC since March 2015. Her evaluation last year was excellent and very thoughtful.

Anonymous said...

I agree. It is not all Vira's fault. I'd say it's 60% Trevor and 40% Vira's fault.

Rick Hood said...

"Ms Traphagen has not been on the SC since March 2015. Her evaluation last year was excellent and very thoughtful.'
No, March 2016, same as me. She chose not to do an eval this year. But yes her evals in the past have been very thoughtful, very well done. I thought Kathleen was a great SC member.

Rick Hood said...

I have to say it is starting to be ridiculous that we have not yet seen what the legal claims were that the SC thought was worth settling for $309K. Where is that letter that was given out and taken back at the July 20 exec session? There was also mention of an email with preliminary claims, which seems to have been used when the SC voted - unanimously, by the way - to allow the lawyer to negotiate up to 1.5 years of salary as severance (the July 13 meeting). At the July 20 meeting he said he had offered 1 year by that point in time.

It is certainly worth paying a lot to avoid a lawsuit on credible (e.g. likely to win) legal claims, which could cost the district a lot more. But what were those claims? Even if we get that info, I suppose there could well be disagreement on whether claims were “credible”, but at least let’s have a look. There is really nothing in the (draft) minutes that is any kind of analysis of the claims their legal strength.

I do feel bad for Kent. Chairing this group is VERY difficult. Yeah, she accepted the job, and so is supposed to take the “heat” but….

We are now 7 work days since the last SC meeting. Hopefully we will see something soon.

Larry Kelley said...

So they have three more work days to respond to my Public Documents request for both the "amended" minutes of the four executive sessions AND the letter given out and taken back by attorney Columb an associate of attorney Tate at that first session.

And if they refuse to give me that letter/email I will instantly appeal it to Public Documents Division at the Secretary of State's office.

Anonymous said...

Rick you know she has 10 business days to respond. She is using the amount allocated to her. Give it a rest Rick.

Anonymous said...

isn't there also a 30 day deadline to release minutes? So minutes for the July 20th meeting is about a week past due?

Anonymous said...

Katrina your last post was very insincere. We have to keep going over this same Ground? The schools can't release the particulars of the Hina case without her permission. Geryk was not elected. Geryk was within her job description to ban Hiza without due PROCESS. AND Vira proved her immaturity and lack of insight with her "bring it on" comment. Vira is slash and burn and not brave but calculated and cannot deal in nuance. She doesn't care about lawsuits or our school system. It's ALL about identity politics not truth.

Anonymous said...

Again…
Vira has long dashed any hope of being elected to town field driver at this point.
She is toxic , period

Anonymous said...

Just went to look at minutes in the archive, while Pelham and Amherst minutes are up to date, no minutes have been posted there for ARPS since June 23, 2015. Are the missing year of minutes somewhere else?

Dr. Ed said...

"Rick you know she has 10 business days to respond. She is using the amount allocated to her. Give it a rest Rick."

No, Rick is right here.

Do not confuse the duty to provide a copy (within 10 days) with the duty to release the originals to the public.-- these are two separate duties.

Exec session minutes are "within 30 days" or "by the next meeting"-- whichever occurs first. July 20th was more than 30 days ago, hence the demand letter should already have been released.

In other words, while Kent will be in violation of the sunshine Ace (FIOA) if she fails to release the lawyerletter by next Wednesday, she's already in violation of the Open Meeting Law for not ALREADY having released it.

It's like a drunk driver who's also speeding -- two separate offenses. Or better, the obligation to have your car both registered AND inspected.

Dr. Ed said...

No, Vira has shown herself to be a woman of principle and courage.

And if "town field driver" is what I think it was, that's more than slightly racist!

The colors in Cap'n Hood's head said...

"Rick you know she has 10 business days to respond. She is using the amount allocated to her. Give it a rest Rick."



"Create the problem, solve the problem", as they say in the mob.



-Squeaky Squeaks


p.s. Hey ask Hood where they're making his father's schooners these days.

Go ahead, ask him.


p.p.s. He had nothing to do with that cluster fuck either.

Laura Quilter said...

I agree that we really should see the demand letter.

People keep bandying about defamation as a possible claim. Defamation against a public figure is an extremely hard claim to make out, since NYT v. Sullivan (1964). For those of you who have never read a case before, give it a shot: Cases are by far the most accessible, and most entertaining, part of the law. Much better than statutes and contracts. You can read about NYT v. Sullivan in Wikipedia, and the full text of the case is here: https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/376/254 . It's a particularly good case to read here.

The short version is that the First Amendment protects speech -- even rough speech -- that targets public officials. The statement has to be made with "actual malice", which doesn't just mean harsh feelings; it means that the statement has to be a provably false statement of fact, and you have to know that it's false. Provably false statements of fact include things like, "Person X embezzled Y." Opinions, such as "this person is racist," or "this person is incompetent," aren't going to cut it.

Anonymous said...

Oh please. Are you kidding me? Woman of principal and courage? She's a bully and an embarrassment.

Anonymous said...

Rick, Vira and Ed are blowhards...especially Rick! How did you avoid lawsuits Ricky?

Anonymous said...

You can certainly tax people without reprentation, battle cry and unresolved issue.

Anonymous said...

Hi Laura Quilter:

...except the landscape changes when an employer makes public "defamatory" comments about an employee.




Anonymous said...

"...except the landscape changes when an employer makes public "defamatory" comments about an employee."

8:03, name one defamatory comment a member of the SC has made publicly about employee Geryk. Just one.

Anonymous said...

as long as a school committee member is evaluating the professional competence of the superintentdent, he/she is free to publicly state his/her negative opinion of the superintendent's professional competence and give her a big F if that is what she earned. in a school where we hold our children accountable for the grades they earn, why would you not hold our superintendent accountable for the grades she earns?

Dr. Ed said...

As to Laura's point, there is what Maine Governor LePage said last week.

http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/26/prove-im-a-racist-lepage-challenges-westbrook-legislator-in-obscenity-laced-voice-mail/

Laura Quilter said...

Anon 8:03 pm, NYT v. Sullivan is the rule for defamation of a public figure. Imagine if Barack Obama, for instance, spoke ill of Kathleen Sebelius -- employer / employee. He could do it, and she could sue for defamation, but the defamation standard is still set by NYT v. Sullivan. In other words, did the statement meet the "actual malice" standard -- a factual statement, knowingly false, etc.

The employment context that you may be thinking of comes up often around references for private individuals who are not public officials or public figures. Private figures are not subject to the NYT v. Sullivan standard. Geryk is not a private figure; she's not even a hard-to-guess situational public figure. She's a public official, at the heart of what NYT v. Sullivan.

NYT v. Sullivan is First Amendment law, so has been applied broadly to a variety of other speech-related torts, including intentional infliction of emotional distress (Hustler v. Falwell) and false light invasion of privacy torts (Time v. Hill). Public figures are out of luck. (Hustler v. Falwell is a fun one to read, btw.)

Milkovich v. Lorain Journal (1990) is the most recent Supreme Court case on defamation. The Court held that it did not need to establish a separate defense for opinion because NYT v. Sullivan is enough.

If you or anyone else has some adverse case law showing liability for defamation of a public figure in an employment context please share. But the US Supreme Court's First Amendment analysis on defamation is going to trump.

So -- a lawyer could say "defamation!" in a demand letter, but that doesn't mean you have to take it seriously, when there's bedrock US Supreme Court law on your side. If your bridges are already burned, then lawyering up to get money via a demand letter may be worth it. Filing a lawsuit is a whole different kettle of fish -- much more expensive, and much riskier if there are penalties for the losing party. (Milkovich is instructive: A public figure in 1974 claimed defamation. The US Supreme Court decision was in 1990. Not too many people are willing to take that on.)

Anonymous said...

Damn but Laura Quilter just dropped the mic on a bunch of peeps 'round here.

Anonymous said...

I do think the demand letter should and will be released. Even though it is rmuored to have very negative accusations of the three SC members who were brave enough to criticize our former SI. The demand letter proves our former SI had access to the evals before she was supposed to. Which meAns one of the chairs needs to go. Which one?? Is the question.

Anonymous said...

That's a Little strong...

Anonymous said...

She may not set the agenda but she takes things off and that I know for a fact

Anonymous said...

I despise hillary clinton. But there she is. Gotta deal.

Anonymous said...

Ladies! Gentlemen! Decorum!

Anonymous said...

My invite has not arrived. Maybe my mail person intercepted it and is attending on my behalf.