District Court Judge Fernando M. Olguin on Monday afternoon denied a request for a temporary restraining order that was filed by Board Member Chris Norgaard against the San Marino Unified School District.
Through his attorneys, Guy P. Glazier and Deborah M. Parker of Glazier Yee, Norgaard was arguing the district had prevented 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.
Olguin denied the TRO on several counts, saying that the plaintiff failed to prove that he was likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of a temporary restraining order, that Norgaard had not been allowed to participate in the evaluation of Cherniss and that there was little likelihood the TRO would be granted.
Olguin also ruled that Norgaard has a financial, monetary interest that “may conflict with his/her official duties.”
Attorney Matt Kline of O’Melveny & Myers, legal counsel for the San Marino Unified School District told The Tribune said “Our clients are very pleased with the Court’s careful, thorough ruling and they remain focused on their core mission: serving the children of the school district. Given the Court’s order, it is our hope that Mr. Norgaard will stop pursuing this costly, misguided case.”
Glazier minimized the importance of the court’s ruling, characterizing it as limited in its scope.
“We will not appeal the ruling,” Glazier said in an email to The Tribune late Monday afternoon. “This was a limited ruling affecting only the superintendent evaluation process. As the court mentioned, Mr. Norgaard did get to participate in that process through the submission of written comments, and the evaluation was basically complete by the time we were able to bring our application. However, as a result of today’s ruling, we will be streamlining our claims and filing an amended complaint early next week.”
Glazier declined to comment further as to the new streamlined, amended complaint.
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.
Assistant Editor Steve Whitmore contributed to this story