Updated, 2 p.m.: Comment from Jeff Spahr and PDFs added.
NORWALK, Conn. – The Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities has dismissed John Mosby’s latest complaint against the Norwalk Board of Education.
“There is no reasonable possibility that investigating the complaint will result in a finding of reasonable cause,” CHRO states in its May 17 Case Assessment Review, of the complaint inspired by a Dec. 28 NancyOnNorwalk story.
Mosby said Monday that he would appeal the decision in court. CHRO mischaracterized his status and did not address his complaints about Briggs High School (the Pathways Academy at Briggs), he said.
Mosby’s complaint was originally filed Jan. 13. He amended his complaint on March 2, after comments made by BoE Chairman Mike Lyons on Facebook inspired NAACP members to demand Lyons’ resignation.
“The Respondent board of education chair Mike Lyons when challenged by individuals attacks and bully individuals who do not agree with him. The board has a civility code and the board chair has violated this,” Mosby wrote in the amended complaint.
In his original complaint, Mosby claimed that the BoE has harassed him and retaliated against him for opposing unlawful discrimination.
“On or about December 28, 2016, Respondent committed its latest act(s) of harassment and retaliation against me by providing information about me to the on-line, electronic newspaper ‘Nancy On Norwalk’ which published an article about me that was defamatory and emotionally distressful,” Mosby wrote in the complaint.
NancyOnNorwalk wrote most of the article with information gathered from court documents obtained through the state’s judicial website. A lesser part of the article was done with information provided by Norwalk Deputy Corporation Counsel Jeffry Spahr in response to an ongoing Freedom of Information Act request.
In his complaint, Mosby claimed that the BoE does not harass, retaliate or defame non-protected classes of people who complain of discrimination.
The amended complaint emphasizes Lyons’ commentary on the Facebook page Norwalk Parents for Education, stating:
“Mike Lyons Chairman continues to inflict character assassination to cause Intentional malicious harm as his latest act of harassment and retaliation by writing about me on a site that parents and the public view. The chair wrote ‘I am one of the most negative people in Norwalk for tying up the school system by filing hundreds of complaints against the board of education which Is totally false and misleading statement. In addition to the latest act on December 28, 2016 the respondent committed act of harassment and retaliation against me and my family by providing Information about me to the online electronic newspaper Nancy on Norwalk and recently Nancy on Norwalk article dated February 22, 2017 …
“The Respondent continues their actions to harass and retaliate against me for speaking up for our minority community, on the double standard treatment, our special education children and of all the disparate treatment, the two similar situated high school and Briggs Alternative school, complaints that the board of education refuses to follow their own board of education policies and bylaws, code of ethics and citizen complaints.”
Mosby also described his history as a community activist and former union president, “fighting hard to protect all poor and shut out races in our town at the Board of Education.”
Mosby didn’t mention that the Connecticut State Board of Labor Relations in 1998 found that Mosby had “harassed, intimidated, retaliated and discriminated against two of the Union’s members,” Spahr wrote in a March 10 response to the amended complaint.
“In this Decision the Labor Board, in a unanimous decision, referred to Mosby’s ‘illegal behavior toward the Complainants’ and ‘the extensive and hostile pattern of Mosby’s actions’. The Board found that the Union/Mosby demonstrated ‘an unmistakable pattern’ of ‘harassment and intimidation of the Complainants’.
“It is quite clear at least over the last few years that the Complainant has embarked on a mission to continuously file one false and/or frivolous complaint after another,” Spahr wrote, also mentioning a 1996 editorial by then-Superintendent of Schools Ralph Sloan, headlined, “Union boss abuses the system.”
The quote attributed to Lyons is correct, but the statement would need to be inaccurate to be considered defamatory, Spahr wrote.
“While Mr. Mosby claims to protect the civil rights of others he seems to feel that he can ignore or even trample upon the First Amendment right of Mr. Lyons to express himself,” Spahr wrote, adding, “Mr. Mosby’s Agenda is all about Mr. Mosby.”
Mosby’s comment that Lyons bullies people who do not agree with him is “the ultimate statement of hypocrisy,” Spahr wrote, explaining:
“When Mr. Lyons has expressed his belief that Mosby has filed a great quantity of frivolous claims against the Board of Ed over the years, Mosby and his ‘supporters’ have shown up at Board of Education meetings with banners and posters calling for his resignation or removal. This is the ultimate bullying tactic. It is wondered whether or not Mosby has shared the findings of the State Labor Board (see above) with his ‘followers’.
“Mosby has yet to rebut that assertion that he has filed a great quantity of claims that have been dismissed and/or found to be without merit,” Spahr wrote.
CHRO, in its May 17 dismissal, wrote:
“We learn from the complaint that the Complainant is a community activist and union official with a long history with the Respondent. The latest installment in this long-running drama concerns a 12/28/16 internet posting on the ‘Nancy on Norwalk’ site that the Complainant claims was ‘defamatory and emotionally distressful’. He alleges that the Respondent would not harass, retaliate against or defame white individuals or Caucasians in this manner. The amended complainant also alleges that Mike Lyons, the Respondent’s chair, is a bully when challenged and has violated the Respondent’s civility code.
“Information in the case file or likely to be produced during an investigation shows or would show that the challenged post did not originate with the Respondent but with a blogger, who would be responsible for its content and not the Respondent. Much of the information could easily be obtained from public sources, as the blogger herself states in the article. For example the blogger has pulled quotes from court documents easily available to the public.
“Mr. Lyons has a right to state his beliefs freely, as does the Complainant. That the Complainant may disagree with those remarks does not make them discriminatory. Quite clearly the level of animosity between the Complainant and the Respondent remains high and that animosity seems to stem from the Complainant’s union activity and community involvement. The complaint does not identify non-basis persons similarly situated to the Complainant with respect to union activity and community involvement who fare better than he with Lyons. Violations of the civility code are a matter for the Respondent and not the CHRO.”
Mosby had not yet received the dismissal when contacted by NoN on Saturday, but said CHRO does not investigate complaints like they used to.
“They’re getting paid for nothing,” he said. “They don’t call you, they don’t do nothing. I hear everybody complaining about (CHRO) because they don’t do no investigating. They used to.”
On Monday, the dismissal had not yet arrived in the mail but someone showed him the document, he said.
CHRO got it wrong – he didn’t complain that he was discriminated against, he complained that he had been harassed and retaliated against, he said.
He also took issue with the statement, “the Complainant is a community activist and union official with a long history with the Respondent,” saying that he hasn’t been a union president in 15 years.
“That’s right, I am a community activist but my complaint is as a citizen,” Mosby said.
Briggs is “part of the complaint” and CHRO didn’t address it, he said.
He filed five complaints in 40 years and won three, he said, mentioning an equal pay for women lawsuit and a 1993 action against privatizing the mailroom.
Mosby’s daughter, BoE member Shirley Mosby, and other community members say that a suit Mosby filed went all the way to the Connecticut Supreme Court.
In February, John Mosby was honored by the NAACP with a lifetime achievement award. Shirley Mosby provided NoN with the speech she wrote for the event.
“In 1978 he fought for equal pay for men and women and went all the way to the Supreme Court in Connecticut and won. He recognized early on the injustice of the inequality between men and women and did something about it. During that same year the teacher’s union went on strike and he supported them by going on strike with 300 custodians – showing unity with the teachers. He fought against privatizing the union and won his case with the Labor board in 1990 – not to privatize,” Shirley Mosby wrote.
John Mosby has two lawsuits against the BoE.
One pursues a case released by CHRO, alleging discrimination when Mosby was asked to show ID at Brien McMahon High School as well as a violation of a confidential settlement agreement between Mosby and the BoE. Mosby also complains that the BoE is ignoring federal and state laws regarding the Pathways Academy at Briggs, and seeks $25,000 in damages for himself. A status conference is scheduled for June 14.
The other case, filed in September, claims that the BoE and the United Public Services Employees Union breached the terms of a Collective Bargaining Agreement for Local 1042 retirees. A trial management conference is planned for November.
The Board is violating BoE policy 42134 by having Spahr represent it, John Mosby said Monday. Hiring Thomas Hamilton away from his position as Norwalk Finance Director to be the Norwalk Public Schools Chief Financial Officer is also a violation, he said.
BoE policy 4213.4 concerns dual employment, exempting employees in executive, administrative or professional positions.
“I am NOT an “employee” of the Board of Ed. Therefore the provisions of that section do not apply,” Spahr said in a Thursday morning email. “They have raised this repeatedly before the Court and they have lost on this point. In addition, this argument does not address the merits of the claim (or lack thereof).”
“Lyons and Jeff Spahr are both violating the code of conduct. What they are doing is dead wrong. They are public officials,” Mosby said. “They supposed to follow the bylaws and everything.”
A BoE civility policy, or civility code, was mentioned in February, but Lyons and others say that they current BoE did not sign on.
Mosby that he was waiting for the CHRO dismissal to arrive in the mail, and would have 90 days to file an appeal.
“Don’t be sugarcoating it,” Mosby said. “I’m going to do it. Based on what I seen I got a good case.”