Clarkstown teacher s complaint against School Board Trustee Donna Ehrenberg moved from New York State Supreme Court to U.S. District Court in White Plains. Malgieri’s attorney Stephen L. Barry of White Plains said the amended complaint includes the same claims as the original filing but the document is more detailed.
“Essentially it’s the same complaint but because of the federal rule you had to put in more detail,” said Barry. “It’s the same four causes of action.”
The original lawsuit was filed March 20 and on April 5, Ehrenberg’s attorney filed a Notice of Removal to have the complaint heard in federal court. Malgieri’s amended complaint was filed on May 24. Barry said one of the four causes of action included a claim that Ehrenberg violated a federal statue because she was acting as a member of the school board when she violated Malgieri’s right to free speech.
Ehrenberg’s attorney, Brian S. Sokoloff of Westbury, NY said he did not think the complaint had merit.
“I think that her second attempt to file a complaint that has legal merit will be as unsuccessful as her first attempt,” he said. “It is apparent that Ms. Malgieri filed this lawsuit for political purposes and not because of any bona fide legal dispute.”
Within a few weeks, Sokoloff will act on the complaint.
“The next step is we are going to file a motion to the court asking that it be dismissed,” he said. "The reason that there is a second complaint is the federal judge didn't think much of the litigation."
The court could rule on that motion by early September. If the case advances, depositions would follow.
Maglieri, who is married to school board trustee Joe Malgieri, contended Ehrenberg interfered with her contract and used her influence to cause “adverse employment action” and have Malgieri transferred to another grade level. Malgieri had been a special education teacher at Woodglen Elementary School for 12 years.
The second cause claimed Ehrenberg violated state Civil Service Law by engaging in retaliatory actions against Malgieri because she reported that Ehrenberg had met with a principal in violation of school board policy.
The third cause of action stated that Ehrenberg violated Malgieri’s right of free speech on several occasions “by engaging in acts of retaliation.” One of those actions was the filing of a false police report with the Clarkstown Police Department “alleging that Malgieri was engaged in harassment and had engaged in property damage and vandalism in retaliation for Malgieri’s public support for the District Superintendent Margaret Keller-Cogan.” According to the complaint filed in September 2011, Ehrenberg accused Malgieri of either firing a projectile or throwing rocks at her home and causing property damage specifically a broken window. No action was taken against Malgieri by the police department.
The fourth cause of action is listed as intentional infliction of emotional distress. It stated in the fall of 2009 Ehrenberg “began a campaign of harassment and/or intimidation against plaintiff Malgieri.” Additionally it claims that Ehrenberg acted “purposefully and willfully” and tried to have disciplinary action taken against Malgieri. The expanded filing states Ehrenberg hired a Rockland County attorney in January to investigate Malgieri and that the attorney contacted several people by phone and asked several “inflammatory questions about Malgieri and several other members of the Clarkstown community politically opposed to the board majority.”
The school board voted in April to approve for legal defense against Malgieri’s complaint.