The presidents of two of the community’s most active education groups have independently called for San Marino School Board Member Chris Norgaard to drop his lawsuit against the school district, Superintendent Dr. Alex Cherniss and Assistant Superintendent Linda de la Torre.
Stephanie Duncan, president of PTAffiliates and John Simpson, president of the San Marino Schools Foundation, this week encouraged Norgaard to drop his suit and, in Simpson’s view, resign from the board altogether.
“As a public official who asked for the opportunity to serve our community, I am very disappointed that Mr. Norgaard chose to sue our district and that, thus far, he has refused to resign his position,” Simpson said in a personal email obtained by The Tribune that was sent to the San Marino Schools Foundation’s Trustees and others. “I ask that you join me in asking Mr. Norgaard to withdraw his lawsuit and resign from the Board of Education.”
Simpson included in his email a link to Norgaard’s contact information.
“It is my view that so long as Mr. Norgaard sits on the Board of Education he has an obligation to look out for the interests of the students in our schools. His lawsuit is to the direct detriment of the children; they are the big losers in this. This can’t be reconciled and he must resign,” Simpson told The Tribune.
Duncan had a similar message that she emailed to the executive board of the 200-member PTAffiliates, which, among other contributions, operates the summer school program throughout the San Marino Unified School District.
“It is very unfortunate that the District is having to spend an enormous amount of money on attorney fees,” Duncan told The Tribune. “This money is being taken away from our children and their needs. The lawsuit is also taking up too much time and resources from the District and its staff. Hopefully Mr. Norgaard will step away from the matter very soon.”
Duncan also encouraged community members to “figure it out for themselves.”
“I am not telling people what to do, but I am frequently asked about the matter,” Duncan said. “I am concerned that all this money is going out to a legal battle.”
Norgaard’s attorney, Guy Glazier, weighed in on the matter.
“Neither the leadership nor any individual member of the SMSF or the PTAffiliates has ever approached Mr. Norgaard of his counsel to encourage him to drop his lawsuit,” Glazier said. “On the contrary, members of both of those organizations and many members of the general public have voiced nothing but support, repeatedly and strongly, for Mr. Norgaard.”
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.