Critical Background to Josephson vs. Archer Lawsuit – Effort to Avoid Litigation (4/1/14)

The Josephson vs. Archer lawsuit was precipitated by several specific actions taken by Head of School, Elizabeth English, in January and February of 2014 resulting in the forced separation of two of the Josephsons’ daughters. Child 1, a second semester senior, was prohibited from all senior activities, graduation ceremonies and told she would not receive an Archer diploma. Child 2, was told that she could not return to Archer because of the undesirable conduct of her father in advocating for Child 1.

Archer - accountabilityAfter informing Ms. English  of the traumatic impact of those decisions (including a written report of a licensed therapist regarding Child 1) and making exhaustive unsuccessful attempts to find alternatives, the Josephsons consulted with an attorney to see if there was any way to protect their daughters from the long term emotional injuries and  mitigate the harm by at least allowing Child 1 to participate in graduation ceremonies with her classmates.

It was decided that the only chance was to appeal to the Board of Trustees asking them to review Ms. English’s decisions (and conduct an independent investigation, if necessary) and mitigate the emotional harm already caused and repudiate those actions that were unprofessional, inconsistent with Archer’s own policies and,unlawful.

As graduation ceremonies were to occur the last week of May, time was of the essence. Because the matter was complicated and board action would occur only if board members realized the seriousness of the consequences and the compelling nature of the evidence of misconduct. Anne Josephson had been a member of the Board and knew that the tendency of the Board was to uncritically support and endorse the actions and recommendations of Ms. English and that, given their limited and controlled interactions, they would find it hard to believe that she would use her authority irrationally and vindictively. Thus, to assure that the Board would take the matter seriously enough, it was decided to present the Board with an offer to Settle and Compromise Claims and avoid further controversy and litigation. The offer was intended to stimulate immediate and serious negotiations that could result in a mutually satisfactory result and therefore, it was accompanied by a very extensive memo including the Jsephsons’ side of the story and all pertinent communications and documents to permit the board to made an informed judgment.

On May 1, 2014, a letter was sent to each Board member including an official offer to settle and the supporting memo. The offer was set to expire on May 15 so there was sufficient time to allow Child 1 to avoid the trauma of missing her graduation. The Board waited until the day before the expiration and suggested to the Josephsons’ attorney that the matter be subjected to binding mediation, a process they were told, could not be accomplished in time to avoid or mitigate the impending harm to their daughters and would confine the Josephsons’ claims to a process that would not result in either public accountability or law reform if Archer continued to support Ms. English’s decisions, the almost certain result. The Archer lawyer demonstrated no concern for the well-being of the Josephson children nor the “threatened law suit” since Ms. English had sole discretion.

This reaction was interpreted by the Josephsons as a clear indication that the Board had no intent to intervene and that they would rely totally on the claim that Ms. English had a legal right to do whatever she wanted to do and that her actions were essentially beyond review. It turns out they were exactly right as throughout the litigation, Archer’s attorney refused to have any direct discussions with the Josephson’s choosing instead to assert the legal right to prevent the Josephsons from pursuing their grievances.

The MEMORANDUM OF FACTS AND ALLEGATIONS IN SUPPORT OF JOSEPHSONS’ OFFER TO SETTLE THEIR CLAIMS AGAINST THE ARCHER SCHOOL FOR GIRLS AND THE ARCHER BOARD OF TRUSTEES is extensive and completely documented. It contains all essential facts and evidence supporting those facts and we urge you to read it in full. To simplify review we have broken up the memo in 13 separate segments in posts under this tab.

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Excerpts from Memo

This memorandum of facts and allegations is presented to provide detailed facts and contentions pertinent to the Archer Board of Trustees’ (“BOT”) determination as to how it will respond to the attached offer to settle and compromise the various causes of action possessed by my clients Michael and Anne Josephson (“Josephsons”), and two of their daughters, “C1”, a senior forced to withdraw from The Archer School for Girls (“Archer”) and “C2”, a 10th grade student who was also forced to withdraw from the school mid semester and permanently banned from enrollment at Archer by Elizabeth English, Head of School. (See tabs inder this post).

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