Parent Sues School District, Claims Board President Got Her Fired over Reopening Push

Elena Dinverno, a parent of two children in Rochester Community Schools, has sued the school district, claiming the board president contacted her employer and got her fired for posting content on social media urging school reopening. Dinverno filed a civil lawsuit Monday in U.S. District Court in Detroit against board president Kristin Bull, the Oakland County district, and superintendent Robert Shaner, arguing they violated her first amendment right to free speech, The Detroit News reported. According to the lawsuit, Dinverno was an active member of two Facebook groups, “RCS Parents for In-Person Education” and “Conservative Parents for Rochester,” that regularly criticized the school district’s conduct and leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic. In one of the groups, Dinverno requested video testimonials from parents and students struggling with the challenges of virtual learning and remote instruction. The suit alleges that a board member called her place of work, Blake’s Hard Cider Co. in Armada, and accused Dinverno of threatening the school district by engaging in her online Facebook forums. The company subsequently terminated Dinverno’s employment on December 18, the lawsuit said. Dinverno said the district issued her a cease-and-desist letter on Jan. 14 stating that the input she offered to the board and messaging she wrote in the Facebook groups were “false and are injurious to the Board, and threaten further injury if left uncorrected.” The parent alleges that Bull threatened to rescind a “40 under 40” award for Andrew Blake, the hard cider company president, if he did not address Dinverno’s activity online relating to advocating for school reopening. Dinverno says that Blake’s human resources manager instructed her to “…watch what she was saying in the online forums.” Her lawyer, Deborah Gordon, said, “This is a government entity for which you are entitled to your First Amendment rights, unless someone is using threatening language. But over offering up an opinion? There have zero business policing her speech.” Dinverno’s attorneys argue that her speech was constitutionally protected and that the defendants infringed upon her liberties by pressuring and threatening her employer “with adverse professional ramifications.” Lawyers for Dinverno have claimed that the school district often contacts the occupations of parents who object to school board decisions “in an attempt to coerce, threaten, or manipulate said employers to dissociate themselves with the parents and encouraging employers to take adverse employment actions against the parents.”

Al Sharpton delivers passionate eulogy at Andrew Brown's funeral

The Rev. Al Sharpton delivered a "passionate" eulogy at Andrew Brown Jr.'s invitation-only funeral on Monday at Fountain of Life Church in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, The Washington Post reports. Brown, a 42-year-old Black man, was killed by police who were executing search and arrest warrants on felony drug charges at his home in Elizabeth City last month. An investigation into Brown's death is ongoing, but authorities have not yet released body camera footage of the incident to the public (it would require a court order to do so). "Release the whole tape and let folks see what happened to Andrew Brown," Sharpton said, the Post reports. "If nothing is on tape, won't be nothing on it in 45 days. Let the world see what it is to see. If you've got nothing to hide then what are you hiding? All we want is justice." In addition to calling for the release of the footage, Sharpton lamented the numerous incidents of police violence that caused the death of Black Americans in the last year. "Before we could get through one 24-hour cycle after the conviction of Derek Chauvin for the lynching by knee of George Floyd, a policeman killed Andrew Brown Jr. — a day that we were getting ready to go the wake of Daunte Wright," he said. "From Daunte Wright to Andrew Brown to Breonna Taylor to Ahmaud Arbery to Rayshard Brooks to George Floyd ... All within a year. And you want to talk about everything other than what the times demand we talk about." Read more at The Washington Post. More stories from theweek.com5 brutally funny cartoons about Giuliani's legal woesWoman launches company to help military spouses find stable workCarter Library releases endearingly odd photo of the Bidens visiting Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter