California School Fiscal Services
|Posted on January 20, 2015 at 6:00 AM|
We've all had our share of difficult board members. This article should make your bad experiences seem like a cake-walk! If not, time to dust off that resume!
By Sharon [email protected]
POSTED: 01/05/2015 12:23:40 PM PST3 COMMENTS| UPDATED: 13 DAYS AGO
SAN JOSE -- Schools trustee Chris Stampolis' alleged threat to inflict as much pain as possible on the Santa Clara Unified schools superintendent and his family did not pose enough of a menace to merit a restraining order against him, a judge ruled Monday.
Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Derek Woodhouse ruled that Stampolis' statements to Superintendent Stan Rose failed to amount to "clear and convincing evidence" of a physical threat against him.
"Superintendents throughout the county from time to time encounter trustees that can really be a challenge to deal with," Woodhouse said. "I believe that Mr. Stampolis falls into that category."
Monday's ruling was the latest in a legal saga that began last fall, when Peterson Middle School Principal Susan Harris charged Stampolis with harassment and took him to court. Her case prompted others to come forward complaining Stampolis bullied them, and her success in winning court protection from Stampolis led to a school board censure, a limit on his activities and Rose's suit -- as well as pushback from Stampolis.
Stampolis has denied threatening Rose and said afterward, "I am glad the issue has been resolved."
Rose, however, said he felt sad and still feared Stampolis. "I don't want to have anything to do with him," Rose said, adding that he would continue to request Santa Clara Police officers at every school board meeting.
In October, Rose filed for a restraining order to keep Stampolis away from him and his wife. He sought the order the same day Harris won an order for Stampolis to stay away from her, her husband, her father and Peterson Middle School. She said Stampolis acted threateningly, and a school video camera showed him pointing his hands in the shape of a gun.
Rose's request was based on a Sept. 15 meeting with Stampolis and then-trustee Ina Bendis, during a discussion of Stampolis' threat to sue Rose for defamation. Stampolis' attorney Tomas Margain argued that the Stampolis' comments referred to when to serve Rose with legal papers.
Stampolis asked Rose when his wife would be home. Rose asked why, because his wife had nothing to do with his work as a superintendent. Stampolis, Rose said, responded that "it would be 'fun' in inflict as much pain on my family and me as possible."
But Stampolis' friend and political ally Bendis testified Monday that she was shaken by his comments to Rose. "I felt his words were horribly inappropriate. They were embarrassing," she said. However, she contended that his words referenced emotional and financial pain, not physical pain.
She said she attended the meeting as a conciliator, although she admitted she did not intervene after Stampolis' outburst.
Annette Morse, Rose's executive assistant, told the court that she could hear the raised voices of Stampolis and Bendis outside the closed door of Rose's office.
Once the two trustees left, Morse went in to check on Rose.
"I went in to ask if he was OK and he didn't respond at first. Then he said 'no,'" Morse testified. "He was as white as a sheet," and as he reached for the phone, his arm was shaking.
Since then, he has suffered emotional stress and abdominal pain, according to a note from his doctor, who wrote that a restraining order would help his physical and mental health.
Stampolis said that he has attempted to apologize in person to Rose, and that the court hearing has distracted from the issues of helping Latino students and providing equitable educational services.
However, the district still faces a small-claims case filed by Stampolis' 12-year-old son, with Stampolis acting as his guardian, stemming from an incident at Peterson when administrators asked his seventh-grader to wait while they spoke to Stampolis in the school office. Afterward, Stampolis drove to the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety and inquired about his son filing a complaint of being kept against his will.
The Santa Clara Unified school board has given permission to district employees not to speak with Stampolis, and banned him from campuses in his official capacity -- in addition to his one-year legal ban from Peterson.
However, Stampolis has filed a notice of appeal in that case. He also has not paid Harris the $19,000 in attorney's fees and costs, as ordered by the court in November.
Contact Sharon Noguchi at 408-271-3775. Follow her at Twitter.com/noguchionk12.