The wheels of justice continue to roll in the matter of Mehler v. Rye City School District et al, and if the case schedule stays on course, it will be over by mid-August.
By Sarah Varney
The wheels of justice continue to roll in the matter of Mehler v. Rye City School District et al, and if the case schedule stays on course, it will be over by mid-August. On May 30, Judge Seibel denied the plaintiff’s request for a preliminary injunction that would have allowed Osborn teacher Carin Mehler to return to her classroom for the last few weeks of school.
Fellow plaintiff Milton teacher Dana Coppola dropped out of the injunction request after she was formally charged with coaching violations in May. She is now suspended and at home awaiting a 3020a disciplinary hearing.
Originally filed on March 26, the lawsuit names individual Board of Education members, Superintendent Dr. Frank Alvarez, Osborn School 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 named individually in the suit. Outgoing board member Ed Fox is not named.
The suit charges the defendants with depriving Mehler and Coppola of the right to teach in order to coerce a waiver of due process rights, and “deprivation of liberty interest without due process.”
The federal lawsuit asks for an apology, an admission from the District that it has no evidence against the two elementary school teachers and $1 million for each of them in damages.
Arthur Schwartz, the attorney for both teachers, is seeking an evidentiary hearing that would start the ball rolling to either prove or disprove the students’ improper coaching accusations. “We have a due process right to know all about these kids, records, test scores, everything,” said Schwartz.
The District has refused to turn over any information concerning the students involved in the suit, according to Schwartz. “We’ve asked for the names and they won’t give them to us.”
The ball is back in the plaintiffs’ court as of last week when Rutherford & Christie attorney Lewis Silverman petitioned Judge Seibel to move to dismiss the case. According to the documents, Silverman is arguing that Mehler and Coppola are claiming that the District’s reassignment out of the classroom has impinged upon their civil rights. Whether or not the students’ claims are valid has no bearing on the lawsuit and so the release of information is not necessary.
A timetable set by the court calls for a response from the plaintiffs within two weeks or a move to dismiss the case will be considered in July. The current docket schedule shows August 8 as a possible ending date for the suit.