Josephson Letter to Archer Parent Community re: Bruser Letter (6/28/14)

Letter to the Archer Parent Community

It pains our family greatly that we find ourselves in an acrimonious conflict with a school we have loved and supported since 2005. It is even more painful to realize, as a result of this controversy, many people we care deeply about may doubt our sincerity.

Once the battle lines of litigation are drawn it is inevitable that people affected by it take sides, usually without the benefit of sound knowledge of the underlying facts.

We just learned that, Barbara Bruser, chairwoman of the Archer Board of Trustees, sent every parent in the Archer community a letter seeking to discredit our claims and our characters.

The stated reason for drawing you all into the controversy (and implicitly invoking you to support Archer’s position in this lawsuit) was that you may have already received a letter from us and that the school felt a need to respond.

Whether that assumption was the result of carelessness or a clever pretext to rally the troops we do not know.

We do know that as far as the Archer Community is concerned we only sent a notice to faculty and staff and a few dozen parents in leadership positions (a fact we would have confirmed had anyone asked).

As you will see from the letter reproduced below, our purpose was to inform them that the suit was filed and call their attention to the website www.JosephsonVsArcher created to provide them with complete and accurate information.

In any event, Ms. Bruser’s letter enlarged enormously the scope of direct communications about the lawsuit and she made a number of substantive claims including the assertion that our lawsuit is false, and misleading and that “the Board of Trustees stands firmly and unequivocally behind Ms. English, who has our complete and unwavering support.”

Ms. Bruser describes our lawsuit as “nothing more than a malicious and unjustified attack against our community” all the while claiming Archer is “a values driven institution and we intend to adhere to our values of honesty, respect and responsibility in responding to this meritless lawsuit.”  For what it’s worth, we consider that description disrespectful and dishonest. To date, Archer has nowhere and at no time disputed the accuracy of our description of the fundamental facts (i.e., events) set forth in our complaint.

Ms. Bruser concludes by asking for your discretion and a plea for your support. We read this as “be on our side and don’t talk about this lawsuit to anyone.”

We do not think this is an appropriate forum to argue the merits of our claims or the purity of our motives. That is why we have compiled all the information you need including extensive documentation to make your own independent decision.

Our lawsuit concerns every parent and child at Archer and deserves your sincere attention.

If at the end you conclude that our claims were meritless and malicious we deserve condemnation. If, on the other hand, you conclude that what Ms. English and the Board of Trustees did to our family was cruel, callous and unnecessary we hope you will raise your voice to restore Archer’s culture to the child-centered, supportive, and collaborative philosophy on which it was founded.

Some of you may want to withhold judgment until the case has been decided by a court but you should know that if Archer’s lawyers have their way, this case will be transferred to an arbitration proceeding clothed in secrecy and we will not be allowed to report the outcome.

We contend that preventing parents from knowing whether or not our claims were found to be true or not and what, if any sanction was imposed on Ms. English and others, is fundamentally disrespectful and irresponsible.

We have already been contacted by parents, students and former teachers  with their own horror stories about how they were treated to support our contention that the conduct we cite in our complaint fit a pattern of decision making we believe is arbitrary and authoritarian.

We are sorting through these stories and will be posting the most pertinent and credible ones to assist you in making your own decision.

We have not seen the story yet, but you may also get some insight on Ms. Bruser’s claims that our lawsuit is malicious and meritless from an article to be published soon in the Los Angeles Times. It was the result of intensive research and interviews. We are anxious to discover which parts of our claims Ms. Bruser and Ms. English believe were false or misleading.

On the merits and our motives, we implore you to withhold judgment until you at least read the detailed and documented complaint (under the tab “Pleadings” at JosephsonVsArcher.com).

However, we know that many of you will not have the time or inclination to visit the website (in fact, reading this far into this letter may already have required a greater investment than you intended). Consequently, it is prudent to make one last point.

Ms. Bruser points out that Archer is a values driven institution, but there is abundant evidence that the values that currently drive their reaction to this lawsuit are the values of secrecy and deception through selective disclosure.

Just two days ago Archer dispatched two lawyers with about 50 pages of legal documents to court in an effort to compel us to take down our website and refrain from ALL communications about our grievances and lawsuit to ANYONE by ANY MEDIA. (The motion and supporting briefs are posted on the website).

In a special hearing that did not last more than 10 minutes, the judge (without even looking at Archer’s massive papers) summarily rejected the lawyers’ motion as it had no merit.

This effort had to cost many thousands of dollars and was a colossal waste of the school’s money.

As to deception by selective disclosure: while the lawyers claimed that distribution of any information about the lawsuit would cause Archer irreparable harm, they failed to tell the judge that Archer itself had already launched its own mass communication campaign to all parents. (We only found out about the letter when the reporter asked us about it after the hearing).

As you consider Ms. Bruser’s effort to call on your patriotism to support the school you may find it relevant that Ms. Bruser is a named defendant, not only because she is a member of the Board but because she was a direct participant in many of the actions we think were unprofessional, unnecessary and improper. (For example, two days before the decision was made to prevent one of our daughters from completing her education at Archer because Ms. English was offended by Michael Josephson’s opposition to her decision regarding the family’s other daughter, Ms. Bruser and co board member Cathy Helm met with Anne Josephson – then a member of the Board and assured her that this retaliatory action would not be taken).

Thus, her potential liability is far greater than less involved board members and her request for support has more personal significance.

If the entire Board “stands firmly and unequivocally behind Ms. English” and if Ms. English has their “complete and unwavering support” that means they endorse and approve of the way she handled this matter.

Whether it is in Archer’s best interests that the Board supports Ms. English’s actions, leadership style and continued tenure remains to be seen, but one thing for sure, be on notice that with the Board’s endorsement, you and your children may be subjected to the same kind of behavior our family experienced.

We do not anticipate further direct communications but if you want to be removed from our distribution list, please just respond to this note with the word remove.

The letter sent previously to the Archer parents in leadership positions is attached beneath the signature line.

Please keep an open mind.

Sincerely,

The Josephson Family

______

Previous letter (referred to above)

To the Archer Community

As an active parent in the Archer Community you may have heard that, after arduous and extensive attempts to resolve our grievances, Anne and Michael Josephson and two of our daughters recently filed a lawsuit against Elizabeth English, the Board of Trustees and Archer School for Girls.

We did so very reluctantly as we have been long-time patriots of the school since 2005 and Anne was until recently a member of the Board.

I will not encumber you with unwanted detail but our reputations and Archer relationships are very important to us and we know there already has been and will be more misinformation communicated about the suit and our motives.

I write to call your attention to a website www.JosephsonVsArcher.com we established to give folks who want to know the true story access to a summary of our efforts to resolve the matter without litigation, the conduct that gave rise to this action, the legal documents and supporting evidence.

We will update the site as needed to assure that you have access to information will allow you to form an independent opinion on the nature and propriety of our actions as well as the actions of Ms. English, the Board and Archer’s lawyers.

To assure fairness, we have pledged to post, unedited, comments or information that Ms. English, ARCHER, the Board and their lawyers wish to post if they think anything we posted is inaccurate or incomplete.

I don’t anticipate communicating in this manner often but if you would like to be removed from the distribution list please just respond to this email with the word remove.

Please read the basic facts posted on the website and keep an open mind.

Sincerely,

Michael Josephson

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