As promised, San Marino School Board Member Chris Norgaard filed an amended complaint to his federal lawsuit Monday evening in District Court that appears to have dropped his request to evaluate the job performance of Superintendent Dr. Alex Cherniss.
The elimination of Norgaard’s demand to evaluate Cherniss comes on the heels of the court denying the temporary restraining order that would’ve allowed that review to go forward. On Monday, June 25, District Court Judge Fernando M. Olguin denied a request for a temporary restraining order that was filed by Norgaard.
Through his attorneys, Guy P. Glazier and Deborah M. Parker of Glazier Yee, Norgaard argued the district had prevented him from participating in Cherniss’s job performance evaluation as a School Board member.
The four other members of the School Board 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, individually. The School Board members named in the lawsuit 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 in response to the amended complaint: “Mr. Norgaard’s latest complaint is no less frivolous than the last one. No amount of repackaging his claims will alter the basic facts that the District received, and took seriously, credible allegations of inappropriate behavior, and launched an investigation. Mr. Norgaard is a public official, and the District had an obligation to be transparent. Mr. Norgaard’s arguments have been repeatedly rejected by the Court and otherwise, and it would be best for all involved if he ends this meritless litigation. Continuing it only hurts the District and its students and teachers. In the meantime, the District remains focused on serving its community.”
Glazier declined to comment further about the 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.
The amended complaint also adds some additional background information and context that breaks out the lawsuit into three specific claims for relief.