Yesterday, Saranac Spencer with the News Journal posted an article about the ongoing litigation against the Brandywine School District. Patrick Wahl, the father of a son in the district, filed a lawsuit against the district earlier this year based on due process issues arising from a school suspension and what Wahl believes was a violation of due process rights regarding a search and seizure. This is the first time, to my knowledge, Brandywine Superintendent Dr. Mark Holodick has publicly commented on the matter. Today, Patrick Wahl issued a response to Holodick’s challenge to Wahl.
The News Journal reported this exchange at the end of their article:
So far, Wahl has spent nearly $50,000 on attorney fees, he said, and he is seeking to recover that money through the lawsuit. He is also seeking damages.
“The district questions Mr. Wahl’s motives as he continues to pursue this issue,” Holodick said in his statement. “He has stated in social media venues that he is concerned for the taxpayer as this lawsuit could result in the district spending money on attorneys, a possible settlement or damages. If that is indeed the case, the district hopes that Mr. Wahl will sign a binding agreement to donate any monetary rewards gained from this lawsuit to a local, deserving non-profit organization, such as the Brandywine Education Foundation, which provides students scholarships and teacher grants.”
Wahl responded that he is eager to talk to the district about what he is looking for – ultimately, he said, he wants to see changes in policy regarding reasonable searches of students.
“They could have ended this a year ago,” Wahl said. “They could end it today.”
Wahl’s rebuttal to Holodick’s challenge appeared on his Facebook account today. I did ask Mr. Wahl if it was okay to publish this along with the personal information included. He said it was all public.
AN OPEN LETTER TO BRANDYWINE SCHOOL DISTRICT SUPERINTENDENT DR. MARK HOLODICK
Please LIKE and SHARE so this message FINDS ITS WAY to Dr. Holodick!!!
Dear Dr. Holodick,
I read with interest your confusing comments to the News Journal, linked below.
You say, on the one hand, that you are “confident that upon the examination of the accurate record through the litigation, Mr. Wahl’s claims will be disproven.”
But on the other hand, you hope that I will sign “a binding agreement to donate any monetary rewards gained from this lawsuit to a local, deserving non-profit organization, such as the Brandywine Education Foundation, which provides students scholarships and teacher grants.”
Which is it? You’re confident that my claims will be disproven? Or you fear I’ll be awarded monetary damages? Make up your mind.
This confidence that you have — it’s the same confidence you had before the State Board hearing, right?
Dr. Holodick, you lost at the State Board. Do you remember why?
The State Board decided against you because, despite their repeated requests, you produced NO RECORDS.
Now, you say you in fact have an “accurate record” that you’ve been saving, apparently, for the courts.
Your assertion begs the question:
IF YOU HAVE THESE RECORDS, WHY DID YOU NOT PRODUCE THEM FOR THE STATE BOARD?
Did you not have a fiduciary duty to the taxpayer to produce them then upon the repeated requests of the State Board? And if you did not have them then, why did you instead use district funds to pay district counsel to argue the case you knew you would lose? Why did you not simply expunge the record, which is all we were asking for at that time? Were you just trying to exhaust and bankrupt me, hoping I would go away? Did you think the State Board was in the tank for you? Why does a parent have to go to court to see these records?
Do you understand that when the State Board said that the Brandywine School Board violated the law, they mean that YOU violated the law, Dr. Holodick? Aren’t you the Brandywine School Board’s EXECUTIVE SECRETARY? What’s going on with your board, Dr. Holodick?
Taxpayers deserve your explanation TODAY. What kind of records have you suddenly come up with, and why did you withhold them from the State Board? Are you really going to make me produce witnesses who you already know will disprove your claims? As you wish.
You made me prove that you broke the law at the State Board hearing, forcing me to hire a lawyer to get the due process to which I was entitled. So I did. I was right. You violated the law. So now the question is, how do I get those attorney fees covered which I should never have had to pay in the first place? Dr. Holodick? Hello? Are you still there?
I am EAGER to meet with you, WITH OR WITHOUT OUR LAWYERS, to discuss this BINDING AGREEMENT you suggest. My email address is email@example.com and my cell phone is (302) 229-9520. I’m waiting to hear from you for this meeting that so far, you’ve refused me — in violation of your own Code of Conduct.
You circumvented the “Grievance Procedures When a Suspension Has Occurred” on page 65 when you sicced your lawyer on me instead. See that part where you were supposed to schedule a conference with me? You know, right before the “stay-put” provision stuff which allowed Joseph to stay in school, but which you also ignored? Oddly, hearing from district counsel Mr. McMackin as I did is never mentioned in these grievance procedures.
I am happy to discuss this binding agreement in which monetary awards will go to charity, but perhaps to the Rutherford Institute, a nonprofit which provides legal services at no charge to students whose constitutional rights have been violated. I’m sure you understand that while I indeed have donated to the Brandywine Education Foundation in the past, I will never, ever do so again. I noticed that Mr. John Skrobot, President of the Brandywine School Board, is on the Board of Directors of the Brandywine Education Foundation. So you are asking that the money I’m awarded be donated to the very lawbreakers I’m suing. I’m going to pass.
But you know what else, Dr. Holodick? I’ve already thought about the taxpayer. That’s why I’m suing you personally, and not just in your official capacity. Did you notice that part of the complaint? I agree with you — damages should be paid by you, Mr. Rolph, and Mr. Simmons, and not by the taxpayer. After all, as Delaware’s #1 highest paid state employee, you take home a quarter million dollars a year. Will you sign a binding agreement that any damages I’m awarded will be paid by you personally and not by the taxpayer? Hey, no worries, right? After all, you are “confident that upon the examination of the accurate record through the litigation, Mr. Wahl’s claims will be disproven.”
Now, I do want to be accurate. Your actual pay is just under a quarter million a year — $246,071.52, to be exact. Mr. Rolph and Mr. Simmons make six figures as well, just like EVERY OTHER administrator in the entire Brandywine School District. I understand there are nearly 100 such six-figure administrators in the Brandywine School District.
Are you a good risk manager? Are you aware of the district’s exposure in this case? Was it a good use of taxpayer money when you fought all the way through the State Board? Did you receive competent counsel advising you simply to expunge the record instead as I had requested and as they eventually ordered anyway? Did you reject and overrule that counsel?
You’ve already wasted a great deal of taxpayer money fighting your losing case at the State Board, and you’re going to spend exponentially more taxpayer money fighting in court. That’s what’s costing the taxpayers, not the damages you’ll pay personally.
You also know this case has little or nothing to do with your zero tolerance policy for “knives of any sort,” and everything to do with the court’s zero tolerance policy, as each and every American should have, for violations of the Constitution and of due process.
You say you want to keep the school safe. The school was not made any safer when my son was banned from its premises for a full week. If you want to keep the school safe, as we all do, I have an idea. How about the administrators know the students? Why did Mr. Rolph not know the student he was looking for? Why did Mr. Rolph not know the student he found? Does that trouble you? What are you doing about it?
I look forward to hearing from you. Let’s both put our personal differences aside and do what’s best to fix what’s wrong in the school district and resolve this case. If you will treat me with respect rather than with the contempt you’ve shown me, I will reciprocate. Again, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org and my cell phone is (302) 229-9520. I will be letting everyone know whether your suggestion of a binding agreement between us was sincere or was merely empty posturing in which you “question the motives” of a parent of a student whose civil rights you violated, and whose right to due process you systematically suppressed.
All I can say is “Wow!” I can’t wait to see Dr. Holodick’s response. I would just like to extend an invitation that if Dr. Holodick wants to channel a response through this blog, I would be more than happy to give him the chance to air his side of the story.