Three Arizona parents are suing their children’s school district over an online dossier the district is accused of compiling on those protesting its COVID-19 lockdown policies.
The lawsuit filed Thursday in Arizona superior court accuses the Scottsdale Unified School District No. 48 (SUSD), school board member Jann-Michael Greenburg, his father Mark Greenburg and his father’s wife Dagmar Greenburg of using “both legal and illegal methods” to create the 100GB Google Drive file.
“The goal of Defendants’ conspiracy was clear: to silence and punish dissenting voices and frighten away other potential speakers who might dare express an opposing point of view,” states the complaint, filed in Maricopa County.
Parents Amanda Wray, Kimberly Stafford and Edmond Richard are seeking unspecified damages and the court’s declaration that the district violated their First Amendment right to free expression by using its resources to “retaliate” against them.
The parents claim district officials photographed, videotaped and recorded them with their children while compiling sensitive information on their jobs, businesses, finances, medical histories, family histories and housing situations.
“They had photos of my young children, my mortgage records, bodycam footage of me,” Ms. Wray, a financial adviser, told The Washington Times on Thursday.
“Conservative parents have been silenced as critics while the woke and supportive parents have been welcomed with open arms,” she added.
A spokeswoman for the school district declined to comment on the suit.
“We have not been provided with a copy of the legal filing or the allegations and therefore cannot comment at this time,” the spokeswoman wrote in an email to The Times.
The lawsuit caps two years of tensions between parents and school district officials.
Ms. Wray co-founded the SUSD Community Advocacy Network (CAN), a private Facebook group of parents that has grown to more than 1,800 members, in August 2020.
“They started with an agenda of opening our schools, and then they shifted into a whole list of other topics,” SUSD Superintendent Scott Menzel told The New Yorker on Dec. 14.
Several parents were corresponding by email with district officials about the group’s concerns.
The Scottsdale Independent first reported that Jann-Michael Greenburg, the school district’s president, accidentally included a screenshot and link to the Google Drive file in an August email exchange with Ms. Stafford.
“I categorically deny having anything to do with any of this,” Jann-Michael Greenburg told the Independent about the dossier on Nov. 9.
Thursday’s lawsuit quotes him as saying in a social media post that parents in the Facebook group “made anti-Semitic, racist, and xenophobic comments.”
The Independent reported that an investigation confirmed Mark Greenburg owned the now-deleted Google Drive. The news outlet also found email addresses in the drive connected to Jann-Michael, an unknown woman and district governing board member Zachary Lindsay.
On Nov. 12, Fox News reported that more than 650 parents had signed a letter demanding the younger Mr. Greenburg’s “immediate termination.”
Harmeet K. Dhillon, the attorney representing the parents in Thursday’s lawsuit, said Mark Greenburg also defamed their characters and invaded their privacy by using fake Facebook accounts to “infiltrate” the CAN group.
“Along with other community members, they found themselves in the crosshairs of the Greenburgs,” Ms. Dhillon said at a Thursday press conference.