Lamplighter Headmaster Files Suit Against School

Lamplighter is a pretty wonderful school, from what I’m told. It’s also pretty expensive. Tuition for kindergarten runs a little over $18,000. This is the sort of place where things are handled quietly, with decorum. It is not the sort of place where you expect Headmaster Arnold Cohen to file suit against the school and two of its board members for interfering with the way he does his job.

Cohen has had the top job at Lamplighter since 2000. His petition says: “Under Dr. Cohen’s leadership, the school has achieved significant success. … Dr. Cohen has taken the school to financial stability bordering on affluence.” Cohen’s attorney is Bill Brewer. Careful readers of the filing will recognize his prose. Cohen recently fired a teacher who wasn’t up to his standards. The incoming chair of the board, Karen Pollock, interceded on the teacher’s behalf. “[I]t is small wonder that Dr. Cohen was shocked by the activities of the incoming chair of the school’s board of trustees, who has wrongfully interfered with Dr. Cohen’s administration and operation of the school,” the petition says. Classic Brewer.

My favorite part of the filing is where, to support Cohen’s decision to fire the teacher for low reading test scores, it brings up a parent survey filled out by none other than the defendant, Karen Pollack, in which she complains about her daughter’s low reading test scores. Again, classic Brewer.

Cohen claims breach of contract, tortious interference with contract, and defamation. He’s looking for attorney’s fees, unspecified damages (including punitive damages against Pollack and another board member, P. David Miller), etc., etc.

Three things about the suit: 1) many of the Lamplighter parents were unaware of its existence until a vague note went out from the school on Friday. 2) Cohen is not in this to settle and decamp. He knows full well that his next potential employer won’t be excited about a candidate who doesn’t mind suing the board. And 3) this coming school year should be interesting. Lamplighter famously has its kiddos raise chickens as part of their instruction. Perhaps it can schedule a field trip to court, too.

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