We’re still waiting on a ruling from Friday’s hearing on the admissibility of phone call recordings purportedly between J. Nathan Campbell and former CFO Chris Burrow. Judge D’Metria Benson is expected to rule on the matter today.
The only remaining witness designated as a definite on the stand by the Plaintiffs is history teacher Marc Salz, wife to Tolly and Campbell’s former officemate. Of course, there’s still the matter of the Former Student alleging sexual abuse in the ’90s, who Benson ruled could be called as a witness, and several other unverified reports by parents and students that Aldous learned about a few weeks ago.
If we actually get started on time, and there aren’t any new motions or meetings in chambers, then maybe, just maybe, the plaintiffs will wrap up their side of the trial today.
UPDATE 1 p.m.
Head of upper school Erin Mayo resumed her testimony today, and, pending an offer of proof from ESD, was released as a witness. Here are the highlights.
Chrysta Castaneda is leading the cross-examination for ESD. Mayo says a student in the grade below Jane had “longstanding knowledge of the relationship” and was so traumatized by it that she was seeking therapy.
Charla Aldous objects, saying that Mayo didn’t learn about this until after expelling Jane so it didn’t factor into the decision at all and is irrelevant.
“We felt the continued rumors and agitation in what seemed to be a growing number of the student body was a distraction for the learning environment,” Mayo says, adding she was “worried to the degree in which Jane’s peers were being pulled down into a situation they had no business in.”
Mayo says it was her “root belief” that Jane would be better off outside of ESD. She also says she understood it was possible that Jane could be upset longterm about that decision.
“We do not see student desire and preference as a synonym for ‘best interest,'” Mayo says, clarifying that any potential harm for Jane was outweighed by the benefit of a change in environment.
“Jane achieved exactly what she was hoping for in terms of after high school outcomes,” Mayo says. “I feel great for her.”
Aldous takes over for the plaintiffs on rebuttal by asking Mayo if she told Jane’s parents the relationship had been sexual as soon as she found out Campbell had told Burrow.
Mayo says she did not because she found out in the evening and already had a meeting with the Does scheduled for the next day.
And now we’re back on the beer receipts. Mayo says it’s not her “read” on the school policy that purchasing alcohol with a school credit card is against the rules. This is contrary to what former CFO Chris Burrow testified to Thursday.
Also contrary to what Burrow said Thursday, Mayo says she was not responsible for checking Campbell’s credit card bill. She wasn’t even aware he had one until after he resigned in December.
“I’d be glad to supervise expenditures if I’d known about them,” she says. “The only expenditures I currently supervise are my own.”
What no one’s talking about on this bill is the fact that Campbell’s total, presumably for one person, was $70.66.
Mayo disagrees with Aldous that Campbell’s behavior could’ve been detected if better checks were in place.
Mayo says she still hasn’t seen Campbell’s cell phone bills from his ESD iPhone.
“I’ve heard about them, but I never saw them,” she says, prompting Aldous to present her with a copy of the bill with pages of highlighted phone calls and texts between Campbell and Jane.
“I don’t have anything to do with checking phone bills or credit card bills,” Mayo says.
Mayo says that Marc Salz’s Jan. 22 report about Jane’s behavior from the previous year (the “did she just intentionally press her breasts against me in chapel incident”) was not “actionable” and played no role in the decision to expel Jane five days later.
Annnnd we’re back on the Sad Story Email, which I was finally able to see the date on. It was sent at 8:22 a.m., Jan.27. The same afternoon, Jane’s father was called in and given the choice to withdraw his daughter or have her expelled.
Regarding the language, Mayo says she agrees with Aldous that it’s callous.
“I regret that I wrote them,” Mayo says. “I tossed them off fast.”
Aldous shows an email from Jane’s French teacher, who had previously been reprimanded by Mayo for discussing Campbell. In the email, the French teacher tells Mayo that she’s afraid Jane will try to hurt her in some way. Mayo characterizes the email as an overreaction.
“She was scared to death of me at that point,” Mayo says, in reference to the fact that she had recently told the french teacher she could be fired for gossiping.
Mayo characterizes another email comment she made as “neutral.” In an email to Royall, Mayo said the French teacher’s concern was “just another look at the effect this kid has on people.”
Mayo says that people were “jumpy” around Jane in the period immediately following Campbell’s departure and “throughout her time at ESD.”
Mayo disagrees that it was a threat when she told Jane’s father to withdraw his daughter or she’d be expelled. Mayo also insists that expulsion is never put on a student’s transcript but is shown on internal permanent records. Rebecca Royall testified contrary to this, saying expulsion goes on a transcript and could be seen by colleges requesting information on a student.
Aldous asks how many students besides Jane have been expelled because of health concerns in the past five years.
Mayo thinks about it for awhile, and finally says “one.”
Aldous starts asking Mayo about the statement she made last week that Jane could have been expelled as a result of an honor violation.
Mayo says Jane technically could have been expelled for lying about having sex with Campbell.
Aldous, visibly appalled at this statement, goes on to ask Mayo if they’d pursued the honor code route, would Jane and her parents have been consulted before expulsion?
Mayo says yes, because that’s the established protocol for an honor code violation, as is the offender going before a council of her peers to address the charges.
“So Jane would’ve had to go before a council of her peers and admit she’d had sex with a teacher and lied about it?” Aldous asks.
“Yes, that’s part of why we never considered [using the honor code to expel Jane],” Mayo says.
Aldous shows that the code requires two violations before expulsion is considered.
“So the kids that lie, cheat, and steal get more chances than Jane did, don’t they?” Aldous asks.
“Not necessarily,” Mayo says.
Mayo says “the wedding ring incident has proved to be true.”
Aldous asks if anyone ever talked to Campbell’s wife, Sara, about what she could or could not say at school.
“Not that I’m aware of,” Mayo says.
Mayo says there’s nothing in Campbell’s personnel file at ESD indicating sexual misconduct because he resigned before they could do anything.
She says the file indicates he left in the middle of the school year, and she believes there may now be a document saying he was terminated.
“The charges are pending,” Mayo says. “What we have now is a letter of resignation and his dates of employment.”
Mayo ESD has not expelled a student “for at least a year.”
“All our families have elected to withdraw their students voluntarily,” Mayo says.
Now Castaneda starts asking questions about the “math teacher” who was terminated in 2011. She asks Mayo if there’s anything she’d like to clarify about him.
Mayo says in the fall of 2007 a student made a complaint about a teacher who’d chaperoned the homecoming dance. (This is the “I’m having a hard time keeping my pants up” comment, but it’s also the same teacher who reportedly said “This makes my pants feel fun.”)
“I confronted him about the allegations, which he denied,” Mayo says.
She allowed him to edit how an earlier incident, which hadn’t been previously reported and occurred before Mayo was hired, would be represented in his file. (The incident in question, I’m fairly certain, is the my pants feel fun quote, though Castaneda didn’t repeat it here).
“I thought it seemed like a fair request,” Mayo says.
Mayo says if an employer called her for a reference on Campbell, she’d make it clear that charges were pending against him for sexual assault of a student.
The witness is released, pending an offer of proof from Castaneda.
Jury is in recess until 2:30 p.m., but the attorneys go into the judge’s chambers.
It’s not clear if they discussing the proposed offer of proof on Mayo, the admissibility of the alleged Burrow/Campbell recordings, or the issue of ESD press releases, which Aldous & Co. complained about this morning. Judge Benson didn’t offer public rulings on any of those topics.
UPDATE 2 p.m.
Court is in recess until tomorrow, presumably because there are a lot of pending issues that require Benson’s time.