Notice Follows Disclosure
Of Many Emails Sought
In Requests And Complaints
Beginning Aug. 1, 2007
Former Region 10 Superintendent And Her Lawyer
Repeatedly Denied That The Emails Existed
By The Diabolical Douche Bag Gang
Come To Light With New Superintendent In Office
By ANDY THIBAULT
The Cool Justice Report
July 2, 2008
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story is available for reprint courtesy of The Cool Justice Report, http://cooljustice.blogspot.com
Hartford, CT - The Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission will consider a motion July 9 to fine former Region 10 School Superintendent Paula Schwartz and re-open cases in which many public records were suppressed.
The motion for case # 2007-418 has been placed on the commission's regular meeting agenda.
Attached to the notice is a June 18, 2008 letter from the new superintendent, Alan Beitman, citing several public records that were withheld by Schwartz and her lawyer, Christine Chinni. Since that time, hundreds of other public records have surfaced, many of them responsive to requests and complaints beginning on Aug. 1, 2007.
Schwartz and Chinni were cited on June 11, 2008 for breaking the Connecticut Freedom of Information Law several times in 2007. They censored public records and failed to produce public records in a timely manner. Those documents included legal bills, insurance company records and write-in ballots from a stolen election at Lewis Mills High School in Burlington. Schwartz and Chinni initially refused to produce the write-in ballots, saying copies of the ballots did not exist. The ruse was exposed, ultimately resulting in an admonishment for Chinni.
Schwartz and Lewis Mills Principal Kariss Niehoff are defendants in a civil rights lawsuit brought by recent graduate Avery Doninger and her mother, Lauren Doninger.
Niehoff was suspended for two days without pay last month after Beitman discovered she violated federal law and the Professional Code of Conduct of the State of Connecticut For School Administrators.
JUNE 25, 2008 COMPLAINT TO FOI COMMISSION
P.O. Box 1415
Litchfield, CT 06759
* Cellular 860-690-0211 * Fax- 860-567-9119
EDITOR & PUBLISHER
The Cool Justice Report
June 25, 2008
State Freedom of Information Commission
18-20 Trinity St.
Hartford, CT 06106
RE: New Evidence In
Case Nos. FIC 2007-418, 2007-421, and 2007-458
COMPLAINT TO IMPOSE FINES, RE-OPEN CASES
Dear Ms. or Sir:
Please note correspondence and emails faxed to you on Tuesday: Alan Beitman cover sheet and three emails responsive to Aug. 1, 2007 and related requests.
Existence of these emails and others has been denied repeatedly by the respondent Paula Schwartz and her attorney, Christine Chinni.
Please correct this fraud upon the Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission and the citizens of Connecticut. Re-open the cases, demand production of all emails and other documents requested since Aug. 1, 2007 via a legitimate authority such as the new superintendent, fine the guilty parties $1,000 in each case and take other corrective measures as appropriate. Also, please note the admonition by the FOI Chairman O'Keefe to Chinni during the June 11, 2008 meeting.
Copies to: Statewide Grievance Committee, Legislature's Judiciary Committee, Gov. Rell
In Stolen Election
Freedom Of Information Report.
Scales of Justice
By AVERY DONINGER
This year I have come to understand why liberty and justice are symbolized with scales. There is much to be balanced and decisions can weigh heavy. Since May 2007, a series of good and bad decisions, made not only by me, but also by others, has led me on a journey filled with risk and rich in learning opportunities.
The first decision that I made reflected positively on my character. I invested myself fully in student government and worked diligently in my elected positions. Frustrated over scheduling snags and short-notice cancellation of a school event (Jamfest), I went home and posted a blog on an obscure Live Journal page. In the blog I encouraged people to petition our administration -- a good decision; it was political speech. The bad decision was the opening line, "Jamfest is cancelled due to the douchebags in central office." Not my finest moment.
Along with other student leaders I rallied community support for Jamfest and the event was rescheduled. However, my decision to use an unsavory term was still sitting out there on the scales of justice, waiting to be weighed. A month after the scheduling was resolved, an administrator stumbled across my blog. Consequently, the principal punished me. She said I had to apologize to the superintendent, tell my mother, step down from all leadership positions, and withdraw my candidacy for secretary of the Class of 2008 (I had been secretary for three years). This was when the lessons from my civics class became increasingly relevant to my life. I agreed to the principal's first two requirements, but I refused the third.
The school administrator's had their own scales of justice -- my opinion did not tip the balance, and the punishment was final. Efforts to negotiate with the administrators were refused. A write-in campaign by my peers (I won a plurality of votes) was ignored; and "Team Avery, Support LSM Freedom of Speech" t-shirts were confiscated (illegal according to Tinker). As I researched civil rights and school law, my scale tipped, and I filed a lawsuit. This was a hard decision; I've never been in trouble: I am an engaged student, yet I did use an unsavory word. My mother also put my word choice on her scale of justice. She found my comment rude, sophomoric, and below the standards she has set. My mother's verdict, as one commentator put it, "Avery, you're grounded and we're going to the Supreme Court" (Colin McEnroe, October 2, 2007, WTIC am 1080).
At age 16 I became a citizen fully engaged in the democratic process. I filed for injunctive relief: not suing for money but for justice. I testified for four hours in federal court; I have done tons of print and broadcast interviews; I have spoken to large audiences about my story and the First Amendment rights; and I was the poster child for Poets and Writers for Free Speech. I have learned the big cases decided by the Supreme Court as well as how my case is distinguished. Most important, however, are the lessons that have become apart of me.
I believe in democracy. I believe in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. I believe that each citizen is responsible for participating in the maintenance of democracy by challenging government officials when they overreach. The principal accused me of a failing to be a good citizen. I disagree. Apathy and passivity are poor citizenship. Rallying students and the community to petition the government is good citizenship. I failed at vocabulary, not citizenship. However, the First Amendment does not limit protection to those with sophisticated vocabularies (though I will not make the error of rudeness again).
Democracy is a gift that Americans have inherited, but it requires maintenance and vigilance. Democracy needs to be retained at the lowest levels if we are to have a democracy at the highest levels. If as citizens we refuse to defend liberty in our own backyards, how do we expect to bring democracy to Iraq or Korea or any place suffering under tyranny? Civil liberties are eroded slowly when citizens don't bother to insist on challenging unconstitutional practices. Citizens, particularly students who are the next generation of leaders, must be willing to take on the responsibility of maintaining and protecting democracy while enjoying the rights democracy affords.
Eventually, the scales of justice will determine whether students have speech rights off campus in the age of the Internet and whether there is a difference between shouldn't have said and didn't have the right to say. No matter the outcome in court, I am proud that I was willing to engage in the democratic and judicial processes. I will continue to defend civil rights, to think critically, and to consider the ramifications of my word choices. While I don't plan to live my life according to bumper stickers, I am going to think globally and act locally.