On May 30 a federal court denied attorney Arthur Schwartz’s request that the Rye City School District return his clients, suspended teachers Carin Mehler and Dana Coppola, to their classrooms.
By Sarah Varney
On May 30 a federal court denied attorney Arthur Schwartz’s request that the Rye City School District return his clients, suspended teachers Carin Mehler and Dana Coppola, to their classrooms. Then, at the end of June Mehler v. Rye City School District suffered another setback, when Schwartz’s request for an evidentiary hearing was also denied. The court ruled that since the suit specified violations of his clients’ civil rights, an evidentiary hearing was not required.
On June 21, an expanded version of the suit was filed with three new causes of action, including a charge that the District interfered with Mehler’s own parental rights and that the interference caused severe emotional distress.
Along with the new charges, the complaint boosts the request for damages from $1 million each to $4 million for Mehler and $3 million for Coppola.
In addition to the deprivation of parental liberty charge, the amended lawsuit charges the District with “Abuse of Government Process” and “Misfeasance of Office.” In a section of the complaint detailing abuse of government process, the plaintiffs allege that the District does not intend to bring formal charges against the teachers, intentionally leaving them in limbo.
In a June 23 letter to Judge Cathy Siebel, Schwartz alleges that the District denied Mehler’s request to attend an Osborn class trip for her fourth grader as part of a year-long strategy to deny her access to her child. Mehler was listed as a class parent in her child’s fourth-grade class this year.
The District is pursuing separate disciplinary action against Coppola in accordance with New York State Education Department rules. Schwartz has already complained to Judge Seibel that the District is using stalling tactics to delay the scheduling of a hearing.
Mehler v. Rye City School District et al names individual Board of Education members, Superintendent Dr. Frank Alvarez, Osborn Principal Angela Garcia, former interim superintendent for curriculum Mary Ann Evangelist, and the School District’s attorney, Gus Mountanos.
Board members Nancy Pasquale, Karen Belanger, Nicole Weber, Chris Repetto, Katy Keohane Glassberg, former Board member Kendall Egan and current board president Laura Slack are also named individually in the suit.