September 16, 2004
Judge hears arguments in Poway free speech case


A North County school district attorney told a federal judge Thursday that school officials were
encouraging tolerance and not endorsing homosexuality when they suspended a student who wore
an anti-gay message on his T-shirt.

But attorneys for the teen argued Poway High School's response to the shirt was "completely
irrational" and that officials squashed the boy's free speech rights.

The arguments came as both sides squared off in court over a federal lawsuit the student, Tyler
Chase Harper, filed in the wake of the suspension.

The teenager, who goes by Chase, wore an anti-gay message taped to his clothing on two occasions
last April. The message included the phrase "Homosexuality is shameful" and a reference to a Bible
verse that addresses the topic.

Chase, 16, and now a junior at the school, is asking the court to make the district stop "selectively
banning religious freedom" and grant at least $25,000 in damages, according to his lawsuit.

The district wants the judge to dismiss the suit and argued in court that the state mandates the
schools to teach tolerance.

Jack M. Sleeth, the attorney for Poway Unified School District, argued in court Thursday that the school
should have the right to remove a message that has a "negative impact."

Sleeth said the teenager could have just as easily gotten his point across with a positive message.
Sleeth offered up "love the sinner, hate the sin" as an example.

"If he'd said something positive ... he would not have offended anybody," Sleeth said.

The school district, he said, is under a "great deal of pressure" from the state to promote tolerance.

"I think Chase was putting his finger in somebody's face when he wore that T-shirt," Sleeth said.

Robert Tyler, an attorney for Chase, centered much of his argument on what he labeled as "viewpoint

"It's a sad day if we find ourselves saying a passage out of the Bible is hate speech," Tyler told the

The school, Tyler argued, took sides when it allowed the Gay Straight Alliance to promote a day
dedicated to toleration of homosexuality, but suspended Chase for taking a stand at odds with the

Tyler argued that Chase was following the tenets of his religion by spreading the word of the Bible.

Tyler said his client's message was "not out of hate, but out of compassion and love for his

"There's all sorts of speech that can be deemed hurtful," Tyler said outside of court. "The mere fact
that it may be offensive to others doesn't cause it to lose its protection."

U.S. District Judge John A. Houston raised a number of questions during the hearing, including
whether the school's mandate to teach tolerance should be trumped simply because the quote
comes from a religious source.

Chase sat in the back of the courtroom during the arguments, flanked by his father and his
grandfather. The freckle-faced, hazel-eyed blond teenager in jeans and tennis shoes cupped his
hands and leaned forward, listening intently to the arguments.

The boy's legal battle began after he was suspended for wearing a shirt that read "Be ashamed" and
"Our school embraced what God has condemned" on the front. The back of the shirt read:
"Homosexuality is shameful" and "Romans 1:27." Romans 1:27 is a reference to a Biblical passage
in the New Testament that addresses homosexuality.

Chase wore a shirt bearing a similar saying ---- the back was the same, the front said "I will not
accept what God has condemned" ---- the previous day, during a school-club sponsored "Day of
Silence" to show tolerance for homosexuality. That shirt drew no comments from teachers or
administrators, according to his lawsuit.

At the end of the Thursday's hearing, Houston said he'd rule "in due course."
Judge reverses
decision on
attorneys in
MiraCosta case

San Diego Union Tribune
By Lola Sherman
September 6, 2007

OCEANSIDE – A Superior Court judge
has reversed his tentative decision
disqualifying MiraCosta College's
attorneys in a case brought by former
administrator Julie Hatoff.

Judge Michael Anello issued a new
ruling last Thursday, saying that the
San Diego firm Stutz Artiano Shinoff &
Holtz can continue to represent the
college as a defendant in a lawsuit
filed by Hatoff.

A week earlier, Anello had tentatively
disqualified the firm...
In her request to disqualify the
lawyers, Hatoff said she had
disclosed confidential information to
attorney Daniel Shinoff, who was
conducting a probe into the
Horticulture Department on behalf of
the college. She was told her
conversations were covered by
attorney-client privilege.

In his ruling last
week, [Judge] Anello
Shinoff might
have violated the
Rules of Professional
Conduct in not failing
to explain to Hatoff
that he represented
the community

But, the judge said, the issue
is “whether such a violation
should serve as the grounds
for disqualification.”

He ruled that it doesn't.
Jack Sleeth urges his
partner Daniel Shinoff to
stay away from courtroom

"to avoid becoming upset"

By Lola Sherman
August 25, 2007

A Superior Court judge said he will
reconsider his tentative ruling
disqualifying MiraCosta College's
lawyers in a lawsuit brought by Julie
Hatoff, the college's former vice
president of instructional services.

Hatoff contends the college's
lawyers misled her into thinking they
represented her when in fact they
have used information she provided
against her.

Hatoff was put on paid leave a year
ago. In June, her contract as vice
president, a job she had held since
1983, was not renewed. She has
been allowed to return to teaching
this fall semester.

Hatoff has sued the college for a
number of issues including breach of
contract, age discrimination and
intentional infliction of emotional

She also asked that the college's
lawyers be disqualified from
representing MiraCosta in the lawsuit.

On Thursday, Judge Michael
Anello issued a tentative
ruling agreeing with Hatoff's
position and saying that “it
appears to the court that
disqualification is appropriate
to preserve public trust in
the scrupulous administration
of justice and the integrity of
the bar.”

But yesterday, after listening
to an hour's worth of
argument between opposing
attorneys, Anello said he is
taking the case “under

He did not indicate when he might
render a decision.
The case involves a yearlong
investigation into the illegal sale of
campus palm trees and a separate
probe into mishandling of campus

College attorneys and an investigator
hired by them questioned Hatoff

According to her request to
have them disqualified,
said she was led to believe that
she had attorney-client
privilege and that her answers
would not be used against her.

She contends the information she
gave about lax cash-handling by
people she supervised was a factor
in her job loss.

During the hearing yesterday,
attorneys for both sides told the judge
he needn't hurry making his decision
because the college's motion to
dismiss Hatoff's lawsuit has been
taken off next Friday's court calendar
for revision.
Yesterday, Jack M. Sleeth Jr. argued
for the college's attorneys, the San
Diego law firm of Stutz, Artiano, Shinoff
& Holtz. San Diego attorney Tracy
Warren represented Hatoff.
Public employees like Hatoff have an
obligation to disclose wrongdoing,
Sleeth said. Hatoff is accused of
knowing about some cash-handling
deficiencies in the Horticulture
Department and not reporting them.
But, Sleeth said, “I don't think anyone
accused her of a criminal act.”
Warren said Hatoff was accused “of
defending a rogue employee.”

The campus probe resulted in the
head of the Horticulture Department
pleading guilty to a grand-theft charge
involving the unauthorized sale of
thousands of palm trees donated to
the college in 1998.

Prosecutors found evidence
of a falsified invoice
involving $305 in campus

The other investigation into how
finances were handled in various
departments resulted in new
accounting procedures being

Warren complained that
Daniel Shinoff, the attorney
who Hatoff said misled her,
was not at yesterday's
hearing. Sleeth said he had
advised Shinoff not to attend
to avoid becoming upset at
the charges leveled against
Sleeth offered a possible
compromise: The firm would continue
to represent the college, but Shinoff
would agree not to use information
that might have been gleaned from
Hatoff against her in court.
He asserted that there was nothing
she said that hadn't been revealed by
others, especially a so-called “whistle-
Sleeth said Shinoff realized that he
and Hatoff might be in adversarial
positions when he was told about
possible e-mails she sent involving
potential retaliation against the whistle-
Warren countered that a District
Attorney's Office investigation into the
palm sales has not found any fault on
Hatoff's part.
Sleeth called the lawsuit and other
actions on Warren and Hatoff's part
“strategic,” aimed primarily at delaying
the legal process against Hatoff while
a move to recall two college trustees
is under way in the wake of the
turmoil wrought by the investigations.
A recall could be scheduled in June.
A regular board election will occur in
November 2008.

[Maura Larkins' note:  The board
majority was overturned during the
course of two elections.  The
minority trustees took over after the
2008 election.]
August 28, 2007

MiraCosta College trustees at odds;
legal representation complex

North County Times

The political Grand Canyon
separating MiraCosta College
trustees runs so deep and wide now
that in one high-profile lawsuit against
the school, the board's majority of four
is represented by one attorney, and
the board minority of three is
represented by another.

That means some board members
are precluded from seeing certain
college documents or participating in
closed-session meetings in which
conflicts over the suit may arise.
Minority board members are also
sometimes sitting out on related
discussions, such as an Aug. 21
meeting in which MiraCosta trustees
reaffirmed a controversial $1.5 million
settlement with former college
President Victoria Munoz Richart.

Can a board with such constraints
effectively guide an educational
institution of 14,000 students, more
than 800 employees and a $101
million budget? Probably, but it
presents challenges, officials say.

"It sounds like a terrible mess," said
Peter Scheer, executive director of the
California First Amendment Coalition,
a nonprofit group that advocates for
open government. "It's bad enough
when you have a board polarized by
ideology, but you when have a board
calcified by legal restraints, it's hard to
get things done."

Tuesday's split board

Scheer's comments came
Wednesday, the day after four
majority-bloc trustees voted to uphold
a controversial June 20 decision
approving Richart's buyout.

Three trustees who make up the
board's minority -- Gloria Carranza,
Judy Strattan and Jacqueline Simon --
did not participate in Tuesday's
meeting on the advice of their attorney
and on the recommendation of the
college's law firm, Stutz, Artiano,
Shinoff and Holtz.

The three trustees said they lost their
trust in the law firm during attorney
Daniel Shinoff's handling of a
17-month investigation into the illegal
sale of palm trees from the campus
horticulture department. Shinoff is a
partner in the firm. He did not return
phone calls last week.

When Carranza, Strattan and Simon
became critical of how Richart
handled the widening probe, they said
that Shinoff helped Richart write
letters warning the trio that
undermining Richart in public violated
her right to a private performance

Months later, Julie Hatoff, the college's
former vice president of instruction,
filed a lawsuit against the college and
against all seven board members,
alleging she had been wrongfully
targeted in the palm tree probe.

That's when the three minority board
members -- Carranza, Strattan and
Simon -- asked the county to grant
them their own attorney in the case.

"I believe that there is a very, very tight
relationship between Mr. Shinoff and
Dr. Richart ... and I just didn't feel
comfortable with having Mr. Shinoff as
my counsel," Carranza testified in a
July 19 deposition in the Hatoff case.

The three trustees are still
represented by the college's attorney
in several other lawsuits pending
against MiraCosta, including three by
former employees who resigned or
were dismissed as a result of the
palm tree investigation. Carranza,
Strattan and Simon are also seeking
separate counsel in some of the other

The effects

The legal schizophrenia inherent on
the board carries some potentially
debilitating effects for the
decision-making body as a whole,
according to Scheer.

"The likelihood that two lawyers will
give conflicting advice is high, and the
likelihood that the body will be
paralyzed and not be able to vote is
equally likely," he said.

Carranza said she definitely feels

"Because of the legal restrictions that
have been placed on us, we can't
advocate for what we think is best for
the college," Carranza said. "It is
frustrating as an elected official. I don't
feel effective."

At the least, Carranza said, the robust
debate between members who
disagree -- a hallmark of democracy --
was lost when she, Strattan and
Simon were forced to chose between
their principled opposition to Shinoff's
representation and participating in
Tuesday's closed-session meeting.

However, Trustee Carolyn Batiste said
she believes the college continues to
effectively discharge its duties.

"Look at the board agenda and ask
'Have those items been
compromised?' " she said. "I think you
will find 'no.' The business of the
district does get accomplished

Separate legal representation is

Split boards are fairly common,
Scheer said, but board factions
represented by different attorneys are

"I think its very uncommon for a faction
within a legislative body to have its
own representation for decisions they
make in their official capacity," Scheer

Attorneys for MiraCosta are hired and
paid by a collective of school districts
that acts as an insurer in legal
matters for its members. Known as a
"joint powers authority," the
organization recently granted the
minority trustees an attorney -- David
Monks -- to represent them in the
Hatoff lawsuit and in some aspects of
the college's administrative discipline
case against Hatoff, Strattan said.

However, the group refused to grant
the MiraCosta board minority separate
representation in all other legal
matters, said Strattan. She said she is
considering retaining legal counsel at
her own expense.

Meanwhile, Hatoff is seeking to have
Stutz, Artiano, Shinoff and Holtz
disqualified from representing
MiraCosta in her lawsuit. In a motion
to have the firm dropped, Hatoff
argues that Shinoff failed to make
clear to her that he was representing
the college's interest -- not hers --
when he interviewed her during the
palm tree probe.

In a tentative ruling on Thursday,
Superior Court Judge Michael Anello
sided with Hatoff and said Shinoff's
firm should be disqualified because
he violated a Rule of Professional
conduct in dealing with Hatoff.

A permanent ruling in that case is
expected this week.

Meanwhile, attorney Jack Sleeth --
also with Stutz, Artiano, Shinoff and
Holtz -- has been doing much of the
legal work for MiraCosta. Sleeth said
in some cases, his firm represents
the college and not its officers, in
other cases it represents the college
and its officers, and in other cases it
represents some, but not all, of its

"I have a cheat sheet to keep track of
it," Sleeth said.
See also GCCCD
Stutz Artiano Shinoff &
Time Warner Cable
and Cox Cable are
featuring Leslie
Devaney, Jack Sleeth
and Christina Dyer on
the Gavel of Justice

Gavel of Justice Show
Features Devaney, Sleeth
and Dyer

Time Warner Cable and Cox
Cable are featuring Leslie
Devaney, Jack Sleeth and
Christina Dyer on the Gavel
of Justice Show. This is your
opportunity to see attorneys
in action as they share their
views on several hot topics...

June 29, 2005
TOPIC: How to Protect
Yourself from
an ADA Lawsuit
Leslie Devaney, Stutz Artiano
Shinoff & Holtz and CALA
Board Member
Edwards,Wireless Facilities,
Inc., and CALA Board Member

July 6, 2005
TOPIC: The Employment
Time Bomb
GUEST: Jack M. Sleeth, Jr.,
Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz
HOST: Leslie Devaney,
Artiano Shinoff & Holtz and
CALA Board Member...

July 26, 2005
TOPIC: Out of Control Issues
in the Education Field
GUEST: Christina Dyer, Stutz
Artiano Shinoff & Holtz
HOST: Leslie Devaney,
Artiano Shinoff & Holtz and
CALA Board Member

Other News

Pate and Romero Defend
Contract Claim Against National
School District

Kostic and Wallace Nominated
for 2007 Best Young Attorneys

Artiano and Kostic Defeat
Interference with Constitutional
Right to Free Speech and False
Arrest Case.

Shinoff, Sleeth and Carelli
Successfully Defend Brown Act
Violation Suit in Fourth Appellate
District Court

In California Supreme Court
Victory, Shinoff, Sleeth, Carelli,
Morris and Pate Save the Tort
Claim Act from Revival Statutes

Holtz and Kostic Resolve 3.5
Million Mold and Water Damage
Suit for $70,000.

Artiano and Wilson Win Sexual
Harassment and Retaliation Case

Shinoff and Abed Successfully
Defend FEHA Discrimination and
Interactive Process Suit

Holtz Wins Motion for Summary
Judgment in Wrongful Death Case

Wilson and Hernandez Wins
Wrongful Termination and
Defamation Case

Titus Wins Mandatory Injunction
Upholding "Unobstructed View"

Sleeth and Carelli Successfully
Argue in the Ninth Circuit Court of
Appeal Upholding Rule that ADD
and ADHD Students Not
Automatically Entitled to Special
Education Services.

Stutz Artiano Announces the
Appointment of a New
Associate, Michele E. Bell to the
Orange County Office

Morris Defeats Liability Suit on

Stutz Artiano Announces the
Appointment of a New
Associate, Patrice M. Coady, to
the San Diego Office

Stutz Artiano Announces the
Appointment of New Associates,
Cara Sabha and Julie Hazar, to
the Firm.

Devaney to Speak on
"Assessing the Region's Legal
Landscape: Impact of Campaign
Finance, Lobbying & Ethics
Reform, and City Attorney

Devaney and Dugard to
Represent the City of Murrieta as
City Attorney and Assistant
Attorney, Respectively

Shinoff, Sleeth and Carelli
Represent School District in Case
Resulting in New Jury Instruction
to Teachers and Confirmation of
Sanctions for Frivolous Claims

New Associate, Scott G. Parks,
Joins Stutz Artiano in the
Temecula Office

Morris and Carelli Quoted in the
News -- "Coach's $1.2 Million
Jury Award Reversed"

Sleeth and Mason to Conduct
Seminar On "Lawfully Managing
Student Records Without
Violating Privacy Rights"

...Sleeth and Carelli Successful in
Obtaining Important Ruling on
School Ban of Anti-Homosexual

Stutz Artiano Adds Prescilla
Dugard as New Land Use/Real
Estate Law Practice Chair...

Sleeth and Mason to conduct
seminar on "Lawfully Managing
Student Records Without
Violating Privacy Rights"

Sleeth to Present
"Litigation Related Bias"
at Upcoming San Diego
Defense Lawyers' Brown
Bag Series
MiraCosta adjusts estimate of Richart buyout to $1.5 million

North County Times
July 31, 2007

MiraCosta College President Victoria Munoz Richart will get roughly $1.5 million in salary,
benefits and unspecified damages under a controversial buyout reached with trustees last month,
according to updated numbers released by the college Tuesday.

The college also announced Tuesday that trustees have rejected a claim by a local attorney that the
board violated the state's open meeting laws when it voted in closed session June 19 to buy out the
remainder of Richart's contract.

College officials originally estimated the buyout would exceed $1 million, but said they were awaiting
calculations from the State Teachers Retirement System on exactly how much the benefits promised to
Richart would cost. Those retirement benefits total more than $465,000, the new data show.

The deal with Richart has been challenged by Oceanside resident and attorney Leon Page, who says it
must be set aside because, he alleges, the closed session violated the Ralph M. Brown Act -- legislation
that defines how public agencies must conduct public business.

Page alleges that the college erred in announcing the closed session meeting and that the participation
of a retired judge as mediator was improper.

In rejecting Page's claim, college attorney Jack Sleeth said the meeting did not violate the Brown Act.

Sleeth said retired Superior Court Judge David Moon was not in the closed session, but instead waited
outside so that lawyers and trustees could shuttle in and out to him "to discuss the claims, demands and

Because Moon was not physically in the room, no violation occurred, Sleeth said. However, he added, no
legal opinion exists regarding the presence of a mediator in a closed session.

Sleeth said mediators must be a part of closed board meetings to help minimize chances of the issue
going to court, which would escalate the cost to the taxpayer.

Page brushed aside the argument that Moon was outside the meeting, saying his location was

"The notion that Moon was not in the room -- I'm not sure that matters," Page said. "The fundamental
problem is that at that moment in time, Judge Moon was speaking to board members and enjoying
the opportunity to speak when no other member of the public was (allowed the same opportunity)."

If Moon was considered "a member of the public" -- and Page said he believes a judge would agree --
then at the moment he spoke with board members, the meeting should have become a public forum
open to all.

If the closed meeting continued -- as it did on June 19 -- any decision made after that moment was illegal
and must be set aside, Page said.

Sleeth also rejected Page's claim that notice of the meeting was improper.

The Brown Act requires a "threat of litigation" and "significant exposure" to legal liability before trustees
can gather in closed session to discuss the issue. College officials cited a letter from Richart's attorney,
Bob Ottilie, as the "threat."

Page argued that the letter contained no real threat of litigation and could not be used as a pretext for a
closed meeting, Page said.

In his rejection of that argument, Sleeth said other actions surrounding the letter, such as Ottilie's call to
the college to announce that he had been retained by Richart, was enough to constitute a threat.

Page said he will continue to push the issue. He said he has prepared a law suit challenging the legality
of the June 19 meeting and will deliver it to college officials today. If the college does not reverse its
rejection within a week, he will file the suit in San Diego Superior Court, he said.

Also Tuesday, college officials released updated costs of Richart's buyout. After nearly 18 months of
discord sparked by the illegal sale of palm trees by an employee, Richart and her attorney negotiated a
$1,556,578 severance settlement that includes:

-- $397,530,000 in salary and expenses;

-- $315,000 in annuities;

-- $100,548 in estimated health and welfare benefits through age 65;

-- $50,000 in Medicare supplement reimbursements from age 65 to 75;

-- $650,000 in damages;

-- $43,500 in attorney fees.
Professor and graduate host
legal/political radio debate

SAN DIEGO, May 1, 2006 –
The ongoing debate between
Professor Ruth Hargrove and
recent California Western
graduate Andrew DeLoach
has officially left the
classroom in favor of the
airwaves.  Their new radio
show, “The Great Debate,”
pits the liberal Hargrove
against the conservative
DeLoach as they debate
current legal and political

“Andrew and I share a
fascination for current legal
events and for the art of civil
discourse,” Hargrove said.  
“In our three-year student-
teacher relationship, we have
agreed on almost nothing,
except that we admire each
other’s intellect and
willingness to hear a different
viewpoint. We’re hoping
listeners will feel the same.”  

"Either way, you'll find
someone to agree with and
someone to dispute. We
hope listeners will think
about both sides of the
arguments and join the
debate with us," DeLoach

The program broadcasts
from San Diego State
University Sunday nights, 6-8
p.m., on KCR 1620 AM (for
those near the SDSU
campus) and on KCRLive.
com.  On Sunday, April 30,
Hargrove and DeLoach, who
just graduated from law
school last week, used their
inaugural program to
discuss the recent debate
over the death penalty and
lethal injection. Deputy
District Attorney Richard
Armstrong was the show’s
first guest.  This Sunday, May
7, they will continue the death
penalty discourse with
Deputy District Attorney David
Rubin. Rubin was the
prosecutor in the case
against Adrian Camacho,
who was recently sentenced
to death for the murder of
Oceanside Police Officer
Tony Zeppetella.

Upcoming topics include the
recent U.S. Court of Appeals
decision in the case of a
Poway High School student
who wore an anti-gay T-shirt
to school.  
The School
District’s attorney, Jack
Sleeth, will join the
hosts in the debate.

Other topics up for
discussion include the recent
Illegal Immigration debate,
new litigation over Ten
monuments, detention and
prosecution of accused
terrorists, and affirmative

For options on how to listen
to and participate in “The
Great Debate,” visit http://kcr.  
Listeners may also go to the
Great Debate blog at http:
//justiceandhumanity. to read articles
by the hosts and to post their
own thoughts.


California Western School of
Law is the independent,
ABA/AALS-accredited San
Diego law school that
advances multi-dimensional
lawyering by educating
lawyers-to-be as creative
problem solvers and
principled advocates who
frame the practice of law as a
helping, collaborative
profession.  California
Western is home to several
innovative centers and
institutes including the
California Innocence Project,
the Center for Creative
Problem Solving, the Institute
of Health Law Studies, and
the Institute for Criminal
Defense Advocacy.  In
addition to a J.D. program,
the law school offers several
dual degree programs in
conjunction with local
universities; an LL.M. in
Federal Criminal Law; and
an M.C.L./LL.M. for foreign
law graduates.  

(619) 515-1545
"I don't think we have to wait til there's a fight."
Jack Sleeth district lawyer

Student's message offensive, says lawyer for school

By Onell R. Soto
September 17, 2004

If Poway High School officials can let students promote tolerance of homosexuality, they should allow
a religious student with an opposing viewpoint to wear it on his shirt, a lawyer proposed to a federal
judge yesterday.

A lawyer for the school district said it wasn't that simple.

The message on the shirt – "Homosexuality is shameful" – is offensive and could have disrupted
classes, even though it's biblical, said district lawyer Jack Sleeth.

He asked U.S. District Judge John A. Houston to throw out the case.

After hearing from the lawyers for 90 minutes without hinting whose arguments he found most
persuasive, the judge said he would rule later. He didn't say when.

The case landed in federal court after a teacher saw Tyler Chase Harper on April 22 wearing a T-shirt
with masking tape on the front and the back.

On the tape, the 16-year-old had written "Homosexuality is shameful. Romans 1:27," "Be ashamed"
and "Our school embraced what God has condemned."

A day earlier, a campus group had taken part in a "Day of Silence," a national observance promoting
tolerance of gays and lesbians.

Tyler Chase Harper is suing district.

The teacher sent the student, who goes by his middle name, to the school office. He refused to take
the shirt off or cover the sayings, and he was ordered to stay in the office until the end of the school

Chase, backed by a Christian legal advocacy group, the Alliance Defense Fund, sued the Poway
Unified School District this summer.

His lawyer told the judge yesterday that Chase's Christian faith moved him to wear the anti-gay
language because he believes homosexuality is dangerous.

"He comes not with a heart of hate, but a heart of compassion," lawyer Robert Tyler said.

In court yesterday, Sleeth said homosexuals are protected from harassment by law, and as a result,
the school district has a duty to crack down on offensive speech.

Chase could have put his view across in a positive way, he said, perhaps with a slogan like, "Love the
sinner, hate the sin," but crossed the line with what Sleeth described as a negative saying.

"This is a direct attack" on gays, Sleeth said.

Schools should encourage the exchange of ideas, he said, but in a positive way.

"You try to sell the ideas you have, not put down the ideas others have," he said

Tyler bristled at the idea that the public school would be in the position of deciding whether certain
speech is positive or negative.

"If we are going to maintain a democracy, we must allow a diversity of ideas," he said. And it doesn't
matter whether others find the speech in question hurtful, he added.

He also said there was no disruption in the school.

School officials said earlier that tension between religious and homosexual students had resulted in
scuffles surrounding the "Day of Silence" a year earlier, and administrators feared a repeat this year.

"I don't think we have to wait till there's a fight," Sleeth said yesterday.
Leon Page letter to
Jack Sleeth
Jack M. Sleeth, attorney at Stutz, Artiano, Shinoff & Holtz
North County Times April 14, 2005
Jack Sleeth says that actions reported by whiste-blowers are not
against the law
This article says, “A 10-year-old classroom helper saw Priest grab Austin out
of a swing by the arm and shake him, Leavitt said. And still another will say
they saw Priest bend Jessica's fingers back to her wrist to get her to color,
the attorney told the jury. Leavitt told jurors that parents and teachers
reported their concerns to the school principal, Jan Zelasko, but that no
action was taken.”

North County Times May 6, 2005
Jack Sleeth and Escondido Union School District
02/01/08 10:00AM C-62    
Styn, Ronald L.                
Civil Case Mana
Jury returns verdict that actions reported are not
against the law...or does it?

It appears that the jury in a case concerning Alvin Dunn Elementary School in
San Marcos actually believed that school's actions were illegal, but that  they
wanted to protect school finances.  Sadly, all they achieved was to make sure
that schools pay large amounts of taxpayer dollars to lawyers instead of
paying moderate amounts to victims.

The San Diego Union Tribune article notes, “…
jurors told [Shannon Peterson]
outside court that they didn't approve of the way the boy was treated, but were
concerned about hurting school finances."

Perhaps the jury did not realize that the school district may end up paying
more to lawyers than they would pay to victims as a result of their lawyers
refusal to settle cases.  Also, the resulting tendency of schools not to fix
problems may lead to more problems and more payments to lawyers.

For more information, see
San Diego Union Tribune  April 3, 2003

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North County
02/15/08 11:00AM N-30     
Nugent, Thomas P.              
OSC - Failure t
Free Speech Problems in Schools
Stutz Law Firm
See also: Contradictory approaches at school districts across San Diego
Shouting Fire: Stories from the Edge of Free Speech

Reviewed by Elliot V. Kotek
(from the 2009 Sundance Film Festival)

Directed by: Liz Garbus
Starring: Martin Garbus, Kenneth Starr, Jack M. Sleeth, Eric Foner, Josh Wolf, Donna
Lieberman, Richard Posner, Ward Churchill, David Horowitz, Debbie Almontaser, Daniel
Pipes, Floyd Abrams, Tyler Chase Harper, Kevin Theriot

Shouting Fire uses a handful of post-9/11 events to elucidate the current state of the
right to free speech. While the title "Stories from the Edge of Free Speech" suggests
there is more than just an edge remaining, Liz Garbus's efforts in this documentary -
anchored by her father, Martin Garbus - largely paint a picture that the strip of rights
remaining intact following the Bush administration might be just an edge, indeed.

Martin Garbus is a worthy advocate, a believer that the very cornerstone of free speech -
the ability to think anything, say anything and create anything - is, in itself, a miracle. The
filmmaker postulates that the post-9/11 effect, as evidenced by the Patriot Act and the
unwarranted or extraneous press attention on anyone who tried to explain away the 9/11
acts of terror as anything other than senselessness, resembled a new form of
McCarthyism and an affirmation that in eras of uncertainty trumped up excuses punish
the unpopular exercise of the first amendment.

Director Garbus cuts between left- (mostly) and right-wing ideologues to explain their
positions on distinct cases where the First Amendment was in play - for example, Ward
Churchill's firing from the University of Colorado, Debbie Almontaser's resignation from
the Khalil Gibran International Academy in NYC, and Tyler Chase Harper's
"Homosexuality is Shameful" T-shirt in Poway. Garbus also utilizes film references with
impressive effect, providing popular cultural support for her premises with the use of clips
from Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Animal Farm, HBO's "John Adams," Torn Curtain, All
the President's Men and The Big Lebowski.

Produced by Moxie Firecracker Films' filmmaker Rory Kennedy, who premiered The
Ghosts of Abu Ghraib here at Sundance a couple of years ago, it is no misconception
that the film comes with liberal leanings. But with Daniel Pipes, Kevin Theriot and David
Horowitz in tow to represent the case of the right, the documentary delivers what feels
like a demonstrable and deserved debate of the duality of the issues.
Debbie Almontaser

While people continue to flee to the U.S. to escape regimes of political oppression, the
questions raised by Garbus's documentary remain relevant: Is lawful protest the safety
valve against terrorism or other more extreme forms of expression? Is it necessary to
sacrifice civil liberties for the safety of our citizens? In order to defend free speech, do we
have to defend the rights of people we hate? Or is the freedom of speech also the
freedom to keep quiet and go unrecognized, unidentified and unbothered?

clause of the First Amendment, U.S. Bill of Rights)

And, to paraphrase Stanley Kubrick, we will continue to defend to the death your right to
be misinformed (Full Metal Jacket). -MPM
Education Law
Jack M. Sleeth,Jr., Esq.
Stutz, Artiano, Shinoff &
Holtz, APC
Recent Supreme Court
Decision Limits a
School’s Duty to Protect
Its Playgrounds from
Auto Accidents
Supreme Court Reverses Weiner v.
Southcoast Childcare Centers
The California Supreme Court recently
reversed an appellate decision that
would have had a profound impact on
schools and parks if it had been left
unmodified. The appellate court’s
decision would have made it necessary
for schools and parks to construct
barrier walls between any playground or
playing field and any nearby street.

The Supreme Court reversal of the decision returns the law to its prior

Weiner v. Southcoast Childcare Centers
(May 6, 2004)
Cal.4th ___, __Cal.Rptr2d ___, 2004
D.J.D.A.R. 5420
North County
05/06/11 11:00AM N-31    CV
Casserly, Timothy M.           OSC
- Why Case  
ACADEMY     Jack M Sleeth,
05/06/11 11:00AM N-31    CV
Casserly, Timothy M.           OSC -
Why Case  
D)STEPHEN BLISS             Jack M
Sleeth, Jr       
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal Decision Feb. 2012
The Ninth Circuit Court wondered why a school district (Solana Beach) would
pay lawyers $67,000 in order to avoid paying $6,000
or $7,000 for a little
autistic girl's education.

One justice had the following discussion with
Jack Sleeth. You can listen to the
Solana Beach School District loses case
Ka.D., a minor v. Solana Beach School District
Justice: "I am curious...

"Nobody in their right economic mind would be
carrying this case to the Ninth Circuit
that seems to
me to involve something like $67,000....

"What's really at stake here in terms of the lawsuit
itself is whether you should reimburse somewhere
between 6 and 7 thousand dollars [to the parents].  

"For this amount of money you've gone through a
hearing before a hearing officer, a proceeding in the
District Court, and now you're appealing to the Ninth

"It seems to me, and I don't blame you necessarily, I
just want to be clear.  This whole dispute is about
counsel fees, isn't it?"

Jack Sleeth:  "No."
The decision said: "We agree with the ALJ’s determination that the District’s general
education class was an inappropriate education setting for the Student, and
therefore, the District’s offer substantively failed to provide a FAPE.
OCTOBER 04, 2011
Solana Beach school board member working for
Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz education law firm
By Marsha Sutton
Del Mar Times

Solana Beach School District board member and attorney Art Palkowitz is
providing general legal advice to school districts as Senior Counsel at Stutz
Artiano Shinoff & Holtz, a San Diego County law firm specializing in education law.

Formerly Assistant General Counsel at San Diego Unified School District where he
worked for nine years, Palkowitz joined Stutz Artiano in March 2010.

Palkowitz, whose second four-year term on the SBSD school board expires in
November 2012, has been a practicing attorney for over 28 years, with
background in public education and civil litigation.

Since Palkowitz joined Stutz Artiano, the Solana Beach School District has
continued to have the law firm represent the district on two cases. SBSD
superintendent Leslie Fausset said there is no conflict of interest.

“Art has nothing to do with any of the cases that the firm represents,” she said.

Also, she said he recuses himself from voting on all decisions involving Stutz
Artiano cases that involve expenses with the firm.

“We’ve taken probably a more cautious approach, but that’s how we’ve handled it,”
Fausset said.

She said Palkowitz shared with her his intent to join the law firm in advance, and
she said she had “no misgivings at all.”

“We took all of the appropriate precautions,” she said, adding that “it’s very
beneficial to a district” to have attorneys on school boards who understand
education issues.

Palkowitz’s professional experience, according to his profile on the Stutz Artiano
Web site, includes an understanding of the California Education Code, certificated
and classified employee suspension and termination proceedings, strategy and
compliance in collective bargaining, employment-related litigation, wrongful
termination, the Brown Act, Public Records Act, California Tort Claims Act,
preparation and review of district policies and administrative procedures, and
charter school petitions, operations, renewals and appeals.

One of the two cases Stutz Artiano has handled for the SBSD since Palkowitz was
hired began in September 2010 and was concluded earlier this year. The district
paid about $6,300 to the law firm for the case.

The other case, concerning a preschool special education student, is continuing
through the court system and is on appeal at the Ninth Circuit, Fausset said. To
date, the district has paid Stutz Artiano about $11,600, and the Special Education
Legal Alliance has paid the firm about $40,000 on this case.

With miscellaneous fees of $823 for opinions on Public Records Act requests and
student fees, the total paid to Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz by the district from 2010
to the present is about $18,745.

Solana Beach School District special education
preschool case goes to Court of Appeals

[See more about Joe Schwartzburg and the North County Special Education
Legal Alliance

Also, the correct name for the organization that channels money to
education lawyers is NCCSE, as described on Solana Beach School District's
website on May 6, 2012:]

The North Coastal Consortium for Special Education (NCCSE) is a Special Education Local
Planning Area (SELPA) comprised of fourteen local school districts including the Solana Beach
School District. For more information, you may call (760) 761-5110, or click on the website: www.

Del Mar Times
Oct. 4, 2011

A legal case involving a Solana Beach School District special education preschool
student, begun in August 2010, is now with the United States Court of Appeals for
the Ninth Circuit. The case is being handled by Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz
lawyer Dan Shinoff.

The case has been paid in large part by the
Special Education Legal Alliance,
formed seven or eight years ago to support potentially precedent-setting cases
where the outcome could impact other districts and other cases, said SBSD
superintendent Leslie Fausset.

“What happens in so many of these cases is that even if you are right, you have a
tendency to settle because it’s often less expensive to settle than it is to go
through the full court process,” Fausset said.

She said there is a tendency for districts to settle even when they may not agree
because “it is expeditious to do so financially for the district.”

The purpose of the alliance, she said, was for school districts to contribute to a
fund to provide resources that would support districts “when they were in the midst
of a case that potentially was precedent-setting.”

“Laws get written, and there’s a lot of interpretation with any written law,” Fausset
said. “When you settle, you don’t have the opportunity of getting full, clear
definition of the intent of the law.”

The Special Education Legal Alliance provides a way for districts to pursue a case
through the courts to receive more comprehensive interpretation of the law. “The
lack of definition is not helpful,” she said.

The alliance is county-run, Fausset said, and is voluntary for districts. She said her
district makes an annual contribution of about $.50 per student, for a projected
cost for 2011-2012 of approximately $1,418.50.

“I’ve been very supportive of it,” Fausset said of the legal alliance.

The case to date has cost about $51,650 — about $11,600 from the district and
about $40,000 from the legal alliance.
D064654         37-2011-00091828-CU-OE-CTL         Dawson v. Country Club of Rancho
Bernardo et al.         Jack M. Sleeth
Stutz, Artiano Shinoff & Holtz
D055941         37-2007-00082246-CU-OE-CTL         Mapes v. Grossmont-Cuyamaca
Community College District         Jack M. Sleeth
Stutz, Artiano Shinoff & Holtz
D055470         GIC875153         Agosto v. Board of Trustees of the
Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District         Jack M. Sleeth
Stutz, Artiano Shinoff & Holtz
D054212         37-2007-00055219-CU-WM-NC         Page v. Miracosta Community
College District et al.         Jack M. Sleeth
Stutz, Artiano Shinoff & Holtz
D052807         GIC868556         Coziahr v. Chula Vista Elementary School District         
Jack M. Sleeth
Stutz, Artiano Shinoff & Holtz
D051045         GIC875153         Agosto v. Board of Trustees of the
Grossmont-Cuyamaca College District         Jack M. Sleeth
Stutz, Gallagher, Artiano, Shinoff, Etc.
D044465         GIE018319         Kinney et al. v. Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community
College et al.         Jack M. Sleeth
Stutz, Gallagher, Artiano, Shinoff, Etc.
D041093         GIC781538         Weegar v. Sweetwater Union High School District         
Jack M. Sleeth
Stutz, Gallagher, Artiano, Shinoff, Etc.
D039572         GIC738084         Berkson v. Appraisal Institute         Jack M. Sleeth
Stutz, Gallagher, Artiano, Shinoff, Etc.
D038790         728790         Castillo v. San Diego Transit Corporation et al.         Jack M.
Stutz, Gallagher, Artiano, Shinoff, Etc.
D038058         728790         Castillo v. San Diego Transit Corporation et al.         Jack M.
Stutz, Gallagher, Artiano, Shinoff, Etc.
D037193         GIN002610         Corado v. O'Neill et al.         Jack M. Sleeth
Stutz, Gallagher, Artiano, Shinoff, Etc.

San Diego Education Report
San Diego
Education Report
San Diego Education Report
San Diego
Education Report