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Lawsuit Against Former Clarkstown School Board Member Dismissed

Teacher Cathy Malgieri’s lawsuit against former Clarkstown school board member Donna Ehrenberg dismissed by federal court.

 

A federal court in White Plains has dismissed a lawsuit originally filed on March 20, 2012 by Clarkstown Teacher Cathleen (Cathy) Malgieri against then-Clarkstown Board of Education member Donna Ehrenberg. The U.S. District Court’s action took place about two weeks ago. Malgieri’s lawsuitalleged intentional infliction of emotional distress, violation of her right of free speech, interference with her employment contract and violation of civil service law. 

The lawsuit filed in New York State Supreme Court charged Ehrenberg with violations of school board policy and sought monetary damages.

Ehrenberg’s attorney Brian S. Sokoloff of Westbury said, “The judge found legally the plaintiff did not have a right to sue my client.”

Sokoloff said the judge found Malgieri’s claims were not the basis for a lawsuit and he was “gratified” by the determination. Ehrenberg’s legal representation had been provided by the school district. A majority of school board members approved her request for counsel in April 2012. The board attorney told them the district’s insurance carrier would cover the legal costs.

Malgieri released a statement through her attorney Stephen L. Barry of Hawthorne.

"While we are disappointed with the judge’s decision, the central issue was always what was best for the Clarkstown Schools. We wanted to make sure the teachers could work in a supportive environment and not have to worry about pressure from School Board members.”

The original lawsuit was filed March 20 and on April 5, Ehrenberg’s attorney filed a Notice of Removal to have the complaint heard in federal court. Malgieri’s amended complaint was filed on May 24. 

Malgieri’s statement pointed out the federal judge did not rule on all aspects of her claim, leaving open the possibility of an appeal or a re-filing in state court.

 “After a long wait the judge rendered a decision that held that our sole Federal claim could not be maintained but she refused to rule on the State claims by dismissing those causes of action "without prejudice" which means they can be renewed should we choose to re-file in State Court. Therefore, there has been no determination on the merits regarding the tortious interference with contract, or intentional infliction of emotional distress claims.”

Malgieri ended her written remarks saying her intention was to do “what is in our long term best interest and the best interest of the Clarkstown School District.” She expressed appreciation for people who had supported her.

 

Tony T January 14, 2013 at 12:43 PM
Robin, I would check into that "no money would have been diverted from other district uses." Usually there is some sort of retainer clause and once that amount is exceeded there is a charge and also claims against a policy will increase future rates. I must also assume that teachers, administrator etc were interviewed, questioned, EBT's during the litigation and call to court costing the District both time and money.So no matter how you cut it Clarkstown Teacher Cathleen (Cathy) Malgieri is costing the School District money for a personnel vendetta.
Sigmund Freud January 14, 2013 at 01:04 PM
These are the official vote numbers for each candidate and the percentage of the overall vote they received: Mike Aglialoro - 3,299 votes for 26.84 percent Chris Conte - 2,673 votes for 21.75 percent Wendy Adolff - 2,296 for 18.68 percent Phil DeGaetano - 1,541 for 12.54 percent Leo Macias - 1,518 for 12.35 percent Donna Ehrenberg - 963 for 7.84 percent
May 15h - D-Day January 14, 2013 at 02:03 PM
Paulette, this was never considered nor was the word 'frivolous' ever uttered. It is a state issue, not a federal one. The difference is very clear by law. No matter how this ends I think we can all rest assured CCSD BOE Members will no longer interfere with teachers again for fear of being embarrassed into a lawsuit like Donna was. If Mrs Malgieri decides to proceed from here that is up to her and her lawyer. Regardless, I am certain BOE will no longer discuss teachers with principals any longer. That is probably a good thing!!
Sigmund Freud January 14, 2013 at 06:39 PM
Two very important facts that are not mentioned in the article are that Mrs. Maglieri paid out of her own pocket for her attorney and that Mrs. Ehrenberg voted to lawyer herself up which is a clear conflict of interest. What was gained here? We have 3 new board members and a new teacher's union president so this lawsuit was a win win for Clarkstown. Not even 1000 people voted to re-elect Mrs. Ehrenberg. That says it all how the public felt about her.
Jimmy January 14, 2013 at 10:03 PM
and a new superintendent. Tom, you're awesome.

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