Norgaard Revising Lawsuit Against School District

In light of a judge’s decision denying a temporary restraining order application, Chris Norgaard and attorney Guy Glazier have amended their lawsuit against officials with the San Marino Unified School District.
Glazier, who spoke by phone Monday while preparing the filing, said the suit would be more concise than the initial filing, in part because U.S. District Judge Fernando Olguin recently denied Norgaard’s request to participate in an evaluation of Superintendent Alex Cherniss. Glazier and Norgaard claimed a First Amendment violation because Norgaard’s peers voted to exclude him from the process because of the legal complaint he’d filed against Cherniss.
“That’s for sure coming out. That’s all going to be deleted,” Glazier said. “We are streamlining the lawsuit and working on other substantive changes.”
The bulk of Norgaard’s lawsuit alleges defamation and the infliction of emotional distress by Cherniss and Assistant Superintendent Linda de la Torre because of a sexual harassment investigation they launched against Norgaard in January. The investigation was made public in a statement provided to news media. Norgaard denies the allegations made against him and also has claimed they were fabricated by Cherniss and de la Torre.
A recent filing by Cherniss included emails and letters from numerous district employees claiming Norgaard kissed them on one or more occasion or contacted them in ways they perceived as inappropriate.
The third-party investigative firm hired by SMUSD concluded in April that Norgaard had, on a few occasions, kissed district employees upon greeting them at school events, but that he was not sexually motivated in doing so. The investigation also concluded that Norgaard was likely to have blurred his personal and professional boundaries and noted that he acknowledged in an interview with investigators how the actions could be perceived by others.
One woman, however, disputed the firm’s conclusion and, in a letter to the district, asserted her belief that the second time Norgaard kissed her indicated the first was not merely an incidental greeting. In that letter, she said she is considering her legal options with an attorney.
An investigation by the San Marino Police Department was closed after a woman interviewed by detectives said she did not want to pursue criminal charges against Norgaard.
The district is currently conducting a second investigation into additional allegations against Norgaard that were reported after the first investigation concluded.
Norgaard first filed a legal complaint in April and upgraded it to a full-blown federal lawsuit in June. He applied for a temporary restraining order against the board’s decision to exclude him from evaluating Cherniss, but the judge ruled against it because of Norgaard having contributed to the beginning of the evaluation and also because the evaluation had been completed.
Cherniss declined comment prior to the amended lawsuit’s filing, which was formally made after press time this week.

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