HomeCity NewsNorgaard Files Brief Supporting Temporary  Restraining Order; Judge Will Rule Soon

Norgaard Files Brief Supporting Temporary  Restraining Order; Judge Will Rule Soon

Chris Norgaard, right, has filed for a temporary restraining order against his fellow school board members. Mitch Lehman Photo

The request for a temporary restraining order that has resulted in opposing arguments dealing with a San Marino School Board member facing allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior is now in the hands of a District Court judge.

San Marino School Board member Chris Norgaard is seeking a temporary restraining order, or TRO, against the San Marino Unified School District because, he claims, the district is preventing him from participating in the job performance evaluation of Superintendent Dr. Alex Cherniss. The four other members of the school board have excluded Norgaard from the evaluation because, they say, he is suing the district, Cherniss, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Linda de la Torre and each board member. The School Board members named are President Shelley Ryan, Vice-President Lisa Link, Board Member Nam Jack and Board Member Joseph Chang.
On Friday, the School District filed its written brief opposing the TRO. Monday, it was Norgaard’s turn to explain why the TRO should be enforced. Norgaard had until Monday by 5 p.m. to file his brief.
Norgaard’s attorneys, Guy P. Glazier and Deborah M. Parker of Glazier Yee, say in their 25-page brief that the district is “long on irrelevant (and further defamatory) allegations against the Plaintiff but fatally short on facts and law that even bear on Plaintiff’s limited and narrow request for relief at this juncture, let alone that merit denial of that relief,” according to the brief. The School District’s attorneys are Apalla U. Chopra, Dimitri Portnoi, Mathew T. Kline and Patrick S. McNally of O’Melveny & Myers.
Norgaard is suing the district in federal court for civil rights violations, including defamation of character, under the First and 14th Amendments of the Constitution. Norgaard is seeking unspecified compensatory, special and punitive damages as well as attorney fees. The longtime School Board member also is seeking a permanent injunction against the School District for what he claims is the violation of his constitutional rights as a member of the SMUSD Board of Education.
Norgaard claims that this entire issue is about allegations that he behaved in a sexually inappropriate manner with district employees. He has denied the allegations and even has gone so far as to say, “no person interviewed perceived it to be sexually motivated or offensive.” The School District disputes this.
Meanwhile, Norgaard asserts he did file his TRO application in a timely manner – one of the arguments against granting the TRO put forth by the district.
“Plaintiff filed his application four days after defendants held the first meeting of their superintendent evaluation committee,” the brief states. “In doing so, plaintiff was particularly careful to verify the information serving as the basis for his requested relief – the statements made publicly by his fellow board members that they acted as a result of plaintiff’s presentment of a California Government Claims Act.”
Norgaard also disputes the cases cited in the opposition brief, saying “defendants rely upon inapplicable authority.” Time and time again, Norgaard challenges the notion that he did not file the TRO in a timely manner. In fact, at one juncture, Norgaard’s attorneys severely criticize the district’s legal representation and two of the School Board members.
“It is simply misbehavior, the likes of which should not be expected or tolerated from a venerable law firm such as O’Melveny & Myers LLP or from its clients in this case, two of whom, defendants Link and Jack, are members of the bar.”
The accusations don’t stop there.
“Defendants apparently hope that neither plaintiff nor the court actually will look at the evidence,” according to the brief. “This hope is entirely in keeping with defendants’ course of conduct since the beginning of 2018.”
Norgaard attached a personal declaration in support of the TRO, in which, in part, he states: “The opposition papers only exacerbate the irreparable and hurtful damage to my family.”
He goes on to say, “I believe that they are contrary to not only the reputation, but the first-hand knowledge and experience that are the basis of the reputation I have in the San Marino community and particularly its school community. I stand ready in any setting for a full hearing or trail on the merits, including any appearance before the court on the instant application, to show the truth of the statements in this declaration and the detailed, documented factual allegations of my verified complaint herein.”
The TRO is now in the hands of District Court Judge Fernando M. Olguin. That ruling is expected sooner rather than later.

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