Friday, May 20, 2005

CRC President Sends Legal Threat

Yesterday Michelle Turner and her lawyer -- that is, CRC's lawyer, John Garza -- threatened to take legal actions against Kay Romero for comments posted on the MCPPTA (Montgomery County Council of Parent Teacher Associations) Yahoo group unless she and her attorney meet with them. Ms. Turner, as you are probably aware, is the lady who was glowingly written up on the front page of The Post yesterday. She is the president of the Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum, and a central figure in opposing Montgomery County's sex education curriculum. Ms. Romero is a member of the TeachTheFacts Yahoo group, among others.

Here is the text of the letter sent to Romero:
Garza Building
17 West Jefferson Street
Rockville, Maryland

May 18, 2005

Kay Romero

[address deleted]

Kensington, MD 20895

Dear Ms. Romero,

This law firm represents Michelle Turner in connection with issues raised by you in the MCCPTA Yahoo group links. In an effort to diffuse any further misstatements and mischaracterizations by you on the list serve, I would like to meet with you and your attorney at your earliest convenience. Ms. Turner is also available to meet. This meeting will be without prejudice and for purposes of settling any and all disputes between you and Ms. Turner.

Please have your attorney contact me upon receipt of this letter. If I do not hear from you within 14 days of the date of this letter, we
will take such other action deemed necessary.

Very truly yours,


cc. MichelleTurner

Romero had posted comments on the Yahoo group alleging that Turner lied about whether CRC was planning to sue. She had also made comments about the CRC's inappropriate use of pilot schools' student directories, after the CRC sent mass mailings to families at the pilot schools, using the directories which are supposed to be for families of the schools only.

On January 13 (Message #7121), on the Einstein High School Yahoo email group, Turner had written:
From: mnturner@...
Date: Thu Jan 13, 2005 9:34 am
Subject: Re: Cox avoids GCA meeting after threats posted on Web

There is nothing going on with the legal group. There purpose is to review MCPS documents to determine if the BoE is following its own regulations and policies. Wanna guess the outcome? Mr. Garza offered-that does not constitute a lawsuit. We have people from all walks of life that have offered their support-what does that mean?



Interestingly, on January 10th, several days before Turner's denial, we have been told that this email was sent to CRC members by John Garza:
We are working on the lawsuit. We parents who have children in the school system to come forward and become plaintiffs. Identity will be kept anonymous, (for many reasons, including the fact that children are involved, threats, and subject matter). We specifically need kids who attend the pilot schools and kids in 8th or 10th grade or who will be in 8th or 10th grade perhaps next year. Also, if a kid is struggling with his/her sexual identiy that would be perfect. (Although according to the school, all kids fall into that category). We cannot file the suit without plaintiffs. Ms. Rickman has already volunteered, however, the more plaintiffs we have the better. Please search out parents who can come on board with this. There is no obligation to stay on or anything like that and I am availble to answer any questions. As far as I can tell this will be the first case like this one in the country. We need to do this for the children. Please help!

Unless one of these messages is a forgery, it does appear that a lie was told on January 13th. "We are working on a lawsuit" does seem to contradict the statement "There is no CRC legal action taking place against anybody," unless one takes the very strictest interpretation that "legal action" only takes place once papers have been filed in court.

We must note CRC's eagerness to exploit the suffering of "a kid ... struggling with his/her sexual identiy [sic]." Their lawyer says, "That would be perfect." Editorializing is not required here.

The other "issue" that Garza may have been referring to in yesterday's letter was the inappropriate use of student directories by CRC, which Ms. Romero had criticized them for on the MCCPTA email group. For instance, the following letter was posted on the Tilden School email group, summarizing the situation:
From: [email address deleted]
Date: Sat, 7 May 2005 15:43:59 EDT
Subject: [tilden] CRC Mailing on the Health Curriculum

Last week, an organization calling itself the Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum (CRC), a group opposed to the new sex education curriculum, sent a mass mailing to our community attacking the curriculum and urging Tilden parents to opt out of the pilot program that was scheduled for later this month. Setting aside for a moment the substance of their letter and its inflammatory misrepresentations, there remains a serious issue with respect to how the group obtained the names and addresses of our children.

As noted earlier in this forum, Susan Wyderko sent an e-mail to the group's spokesman last Monday asking how the mailing list was obtained and with whom it has been shared. I sent the same person a note endorsing Susan's request and adding my own request for a response to Susan's questions. At this time, neither of us has received a reply.

Despite the group's insulting refusal to answer Susan's perfectly reasonable questions, we now know from separate sources how the list was obtained. Michelle Turner, the group's president, has admitted in an e-mail to MCCPTA President Cindy Kerr that the source of the list was our PTSA student directory.

Michelle and her organization, of course, have every right to express their views on the curriculum and to lobby for changes in the portions of it with which they may disagree. This does not, however, translate into a right to obtain surreptitiously a copy of our directory and use it for a purpose for which it was not intended.

For those of you who may not know her, Michelle Turner is an Einstein cluster parent who has held numerous senior PTSA positions over the years, including a one-year term as MCCPTA president. She is well acquainted with the accepted PTA practices regarding the proper use of student directories, and although she may prefer not to admit it, she knows full well that her group's use of our directory in this manner is totally inappropriate.

By common understanding, student directories are compiled and published by PTAs to facilitate communication within school communities. They are not intended to be used for solicitation, or to serve as a resource for groups like CRC that are in the business of peddling political positions.

At our PTSA meeting on Tuesday May 10, we will consider a resolution expressing our PTSA's vigorous objection to the abuse of our student directory by CRC and their refusal to answer Susan's questions.

While adopting such a resolution isn't likely to deter CRC from pursuing its agenda through future mailings to our community (either its own mailings or those of groups to which it may have transferred or sold our mailing list), it will send them the message that the Tilden community knows what they are doing and objects to their abuse of our community's directory.

Meanwhile, for those in the Tilden community who share the growing discomfort with this group's message and tactics, there is a simple solution we can all adopt in responding to their future mailings: discard them unopened.

[name deleted]

It is my understanding that MCCPTA officers agree that CRC misused the directories and intend to support Ms. Romero in this.

What to make of all this? Garza's letter is vaguely enough worded to render any interpretation a guess. Surely, a threat is implied in the request for a meeting -- "we will take such other action deemed necessary" probably doesn't mean hosting a party at Chuck E. Cheese. Are the CRC and their officers beyond reproach? Is there a legal problem with calling a lie a lie? As Ms. Turner is also a member of the MCCPTA Yahoo group, she could easily have corrected any misrepresentations of her position. As far as I know, that did not happen.

The MCCPTA_Delegates Yahoo group requires approval by a moderator. It has 272 members, presumably all approved and all involved in Montgomery County PTA activities. If this situation escalates into a lawsuit, it will open many questions regarding the privilege of such electronic communications; many discussion group messages are spontaneous, unedited, contain factual errors and personal opinions -- these are informal communications. We can foresee a future where no one will be able to comment online for fear of legal retaliation.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The ex-recall group is fighting against the inclusion of a few facts about sexual orientation in the MCPS health education curriculum, even though these facts are intended to decrease the bullying that non-heterosexuals experience in their lives. Recently an ex-recall member sent email in an attempt to blackmail Jim to shut down the weblog during business hours. And now a couple of ex-recall's officers have sent a letter to try to bully Kay to stop her from publishing facts on the MCCPTA listserv.

Thank you,, for standing up to the bullies!

Joyful Noise

May 21, 2005 10:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bunch of lying whiners at TTF!

May 21, 2005 2:04 PM  
Blogger Kay2898 said...

Well easy to call anyone anything being anonymous..right...????

Interesting part is nothing that you pointed out as the lie.

Kay R

May 21, 2005 6:39 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

Anonymous -- oh, never mind.

May 21, 2005 9:32 PM  

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