Arizona AG sues Scottsdale school district, former board president over public comment ban during meetings

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Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich is suing the Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) and its then-governing board president over allegations that they prohibited the public from commenting on mask mandates and other issues of concern during virtual meetings held last summer. 

Brnovich, a Republican, said Jann-Michael Greenburg limited the public’s ability to voice their thoughts on whether to implement a mask requirement during two meetings on Aug. 17 and Aug. 23, 2021, according to court documents.

During the first meeting, the board was slated to discuss the school district’s instructional time model for the 2021-22 school year and the potential mask requirement. The meeting agenda said the event would be broken up into two parts – a “public hearing” for the time model issue and a “special meeting” for matter related to masks. At the end of the public meeting portion, the public would be allowed to comment but the agenda did not say the subject matter of the comments would be limited to the instructional time model, the lawsuit said. 

“The Board repeatedly cut off any speaker whenever Greenburg determined that the topic discussed strayed too far from the 2021-2022 instructional time model,” the lawsuit states. “In so doing, the Board, through Greenburg, applied a content-based restriction on speech.”

ARIZONA AG URGES DOJ TO INVESTIGATE SCHOOL BOARD PRESIDENT WHO KEPT ‘DOSSIER’ OF PARENTS

Former Scottsdale school board President Jann-Michael Greenburg (Scottsdale Unified School District) Parents protest at a Scottsdale school board meeting. Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich is suing Greenburg and the school district for allegedly not allowing the public to comment on certain matters in a series of board meetings last year.

Former Scottsdale school board President Jann-Michael Greenburg (Scottsdale Unified School District) Parents protest at a Scottsdale school board meeting. Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich is suing Greenburg and the school district for allegedly not allowing the public to comment on certain matters in a series of board meetings last year.
((Scottsdale Unified School District/Amy Carney)

“The Board purposely bifurcated the agenda for the August 17, 2021, meeting to avoid allowing public comment on a proposed mask mandate and other items listed on the agenda under the “special meeting,” it said. 

A second virtual meeting on Aug. 23, 2021, went the way of the first, with Greenburg only allowing members of the public to comment on the instructional time model matter. Only two people made comments, the lawsuit said. 

Following that meeting, Brnovich’s office received complaints about the manner in which both gatherings were held, the lawsuit said. The school board told the attorney general’s office it was permitted to apply “content restrictions.”

“Because the Open Meeting Law does not permit a public body to accept public comment through any mechanism other than an ‘open call to the public,’ the Board, primarily through Mr. Greenburg, violated the Open Meeting Law by restricting the subject matter upon which the public could comment to the instructional time model,” the complaint states.

The board held a regular meeting on Aug. 24, but those wishing to provide public comment were required to do so in person despite the meeting being live-streamed and no audience was allowed in person, the lawsuit states. Those who showed up to the meeting were escorted into the meeting room individually. 

2 EX-MIZZOU FRATERNITY BROTHERS CHARGED WITH FELONIES AFTER HAZING INCIDENT LEFT PLEDGE BLIND, PARALYZED

Kari Lake video screenshot of moms of Scottsdale Unified School District.

Kari Lake video screenshot of moms of Scottsdale Unified School District.
(Kari Lake for Congress)

One parent said inappropriate materials were being provided to students. 

“Greenburg interrupted the parent’s comments to claim that the comments were not true and to attempt to explain why,” court documents said. “The parent correctly explained to Greenburg that he is not permitted to interrupt public comments. 

Greenburg responded and ended his remarks with: “Jesus FChrist people!” under his breath, according to a video of the meeting. Fox News has reached out to the school district and Greenburg. 

Greenburg and the district are also being sued by three parents over a “dossier” allegedly aimed at intimidating them into silence after they criticized him. That lawsuit alleged Greenburg, his father and his father’s wife, conspired to punish dissenting voices.

The alleged dossier comprises 47 parents who spoke out at school board meetings. It contains Social Security numbers, background checks, a divorce paper, mortgage documents, trade certifications, and screenshots of Facebook posts. 

Parents protest at a Scottsdale school board meeting. Photo courtesy Amy Carney

Parents protest at a Scottsdale school board meeting. Photo courtesy Amy Carney
(Amy Carney)

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The lawsuit claims that the defendants “misused District resources and what should have been private, protected parent communications to the District to retaliate against Plaintiffs for their protected speech.”

Fox News’ Tyler O’Neil contributed to this report. 

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