I have recently received a certified letter from the school district - on official school district letterhead - which claims that I may have said disparaging remarks about some of the staff of our school district. Further the letter went on to say that the school district has received advice of our counsel on this issue. The letter also stated that ... "The school district will disclaim any responsibility or liability for your remarks, and it will be your responsibility personally to pay for any damages incurred." The letter arises out of ridiculous claim made by Richard Sussman that I had made defamatory remarks of a racist nature about one particular employee. For the record, I deny these allegations in their entirety. I have no idea what Mr. Sussman is talking about. Nobody at the school district seems to know what Mr. Sussman is talking about, and when I asked Mr. Sussman to substantiate his defamatory accusations, he refused.
Upon receipt of this letter I immediately contacted Dr. Inserra for an explanation. The superintendent advised me that he believed that there was no basis to these allegations. Apparently Mr. Sussman has again acted without authorization from the school board. Further, by information and belief, I believe that Mr. Sussman is also lying when he says he contacted the school district's official legal counsel. Let's face it, Mr. Sussman has a tendency to be less than truthful with the facts. When I advised Trustees Cowles, Mogul, and Wezanaar, they were just as surprised as I was. Neither of them had any knowledge of the letter. Mrs. Meyer claims she knew nothing of the matter, while Mr. Ferro would only have his wife inform me that he would not return my call - (go figure that attitude from a public official). Mr. Sussman's wild accusations of racism not only expose the district to liability, but more importantly his comments are indicative of the failure of this board - and in particular its leadership including Mr. Ferro - for allowing this type of behavior to flourish.
I think the community is just sick and tired of the nonsense from Mr. Sussman with his tactics of asking questions like "When did you stop beating your wife?" Enough already. It is one thing to disagree with someone's point of view, or think that they are incompetent - it is another to make remarks about them (in the name of the school district) which are slanderous. It is just plain wrong to manipulate a position just because he treats it like his own bully pulpit. I have said this before, and I will say it again, I will not tolerate any remarks that slander my character, damage my reputation, nor affect my family's livelihood or my profession. Neither will I tolerate any similar remarks aimed at any of my fellow trustees. I urge my fellow board members - particularly Mrs. Meyer and Mr. Ferro - to finally stand up and act with the same set of values that they preached when they asked the community to elect them. Their tacit approval is shameful.
However, the most interesting comment of that certified letter was the sentence claiming that ... "it will be your responsibility personally to pay for any damages incurred". As many of you are aware, I have filed an appeal to the commissioner for the removal of Mr. Sussman because of similar acts of unauthorized official misconduct. To date, Mr. Sussman has accumulated almost $30,000 in legal fees in defense of these claims - both from our own school district attorney and his own private counsel. (Mr. Sussman has also indicated he will submit even more bills from his own private counsel.) In reading the above comments, one can only wonder how Mr. Sussman can have the audacity to ask the taxpayers to pay for his own legal fees because of his own big mouth and poor character. Does anybody in this community really think he is worth $30,000? Is slander a part of Mr. Sussman's job title? What is good for the goose should also be good for the gander. If Mr. Sussman can arbitrarily decree that I should pay for my own legal bills (which I have), shouldn't he also be asked to do the same? I wonder if Mrs. Meyer or Mr. Ferro would agree?
Board of Ed. Member