Public schools are out of control. And it’s going to get worse if we don’t do something about it. Unfortunately, for far too long, school board elections have been some of the most ignored around our state. But whether you have kids in public school, private school, or homeschool—whether your kids are out of school or you don’t have kids at all—this year’s school board election will affect you.
How? Take a look at some of the worst abuses in public school districts in the past year.
A Financial Mess
As a taxpaying citizen, you probably care a lot about where your dollars go. But most school districts don’t share your same concerns. Mesa Public Schools (MPS) is one of them. Back in March, MPS failed to explain where over $32.3 million of their federal emergency funds slated for COVID-related expenditures went—which should’ve resulted in an audit by the State of Arizona.
On Thursday, a district court judge denied a mother’s motion to dismiss in a lawsuit filed against her by the creator of a dossier on parents who opposed his son’s tenure as school board president. The mother leaked the dossier, located on a Google Drive, to local reporters after noticing the URL in pictures sent to her by the school board president.
Mark Greenburg — father of the former board president of Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) who had access to the dossier, Jann-Michael Greenburg — sued SUSD parents Amanda and Daniel Wray for allegedly violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), a federal law on unauthorized computer access. The Wrays countered by filing an anti-SLAPP motion to dismiss, which claims that a lawsuit is filed strategically to prevent public participation. Judge Douglas Rayes, an appointee of former President Barack Obama, denied the Wrays’ motion to dismiss.
Rayes said his decision was a “close call.” He acknowledged that the elder Greenburg lacked a password protection on the Google Drive, therefore making it accessible to anyone with its link. However, Rayes agreed with the elder Greenburg’s argument that this lack of security didn’t render the Google Drive dossier open to the public, and that Wray’s inadvertent discovery of the URL didn’t give her authorization to access the dossier.
The Rayes declared that the elder Greenburg “sufficiently plead the elements of a violation” of the CFAA. He established a scheduling conference on July 7 at 11 am, with a deadline for a revised proposed discovery plan on June 30.
Wray deferred to her counsel for comment.
In a statement to AZ Free News, Harmeet Dhillon — the managing partner of Dhillon Law Group representing Wray — clarified that the judge’s decision only reflected Greenburg’s allegations and didn’t constitute Rayes’ final decision on the case.
“A motion to dismiss is typically made at the outset of most cases in federal court, and it is a test not of the facts of the case, but rather of the plaintiff’s allegations,” said Dhillon. “While we respectfully disagree with the court’s ruling and believe the law requires dismissal at this stage, we look forward to the discovery phase of the lawsuit and to establishing the actual facts in this case.”
Nearly five months ago, a group of mothers publicized a Google Drive dossier on them and other parents perceived as political enemies, compiled by the father of their Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) board president, Jann-Michael Greenburg. The trove of political opposition research leaked by SUSD mother Amanda Wray quickly made international news, and became known as the “Greenburg Files,” or “Greenburg Dossier.” Jann-Michael’s father, Mark Greenburg, didn’t shy away from the uproar that ensued.
In January, Greenburg filed an initial complaint in the Maricopa County Superior Court against the Wrays for defamation, as well as violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). Several weeks later, Greenburg amended his complaint to only sue for CFAA violations, striking all claims of defamation. Reporting on his lawsuit was featured in one place: the Arizona Republic, behind a subscriber-only paywall. In response, the Wrays issued a motion to dismiss, claiming that Greenburg had ulterior motives aligned with SLAPP behavior: “strategic lawsuits against public participation” to silence free speech.
A status conference is scheduled for Wednesday at 9:30 am. A scheduling conference is also scheduled for May 19 at 3 pm. The requested relief totals nearly $10,000.
Greenburg is represented by attorney Christopher Rapp of Ryan Rapp Underwood & Pacheco. Amanda and Daniel Wray are represented by John Wilenchik of Wilenchik & Bartness and acclaimed GOP chairwoman and attorney Harmeet Dhillon with her law group. Judge Joan Sinclair is listed as hearing the case.
Greenburg’s lawsuit characterized Amanda Wray as a “political operative,” pointing to the private Facebook group she organized, “SUSD-CAN,” short for “Scottsdale Unified School District Community Action Network,” a parent and community advocacy group concerning SUSD issues like masking, vaccinations, LGBTQ+, and critical race theory (CRT). He alleged that Wray stole his private information and documents by accessing the dossier, and that she doxxed him by publishing and discussing his home address, license plate, and Paycheck Protection Program loan information on the Facebook group page.
The lawsuit explained that Greenburg shared access to his server, or Google account on which the dossier was located, with three other individuals, one of whom he identified as his son, Jann-Michael. Greenburg insisted that the Google Drive dossier was otherwise password protected. He claimed that inadvertent public access to the dossier was granted through a setting unknown to him at the time enabling third parties to access the server without a password: the use of the Google Drive’s URL. Jann-Michael inadvertently shared that URL with SUSD parents in an emailed response to defamation accusations by including 13 screenshots of public Facebook comments stored within the dossier, one of which included the URL.
“The situation was the equivalent of Plaintiff’s son accidentally disclosing his username and password,” read the complaint.
Wray was accused of intentionally breaching the Google Drive dossier by using a third party to create a hyperlink with the inadvertently-shared URL. Greenburg also accused Wray of copying, deleting, adding, reorganizing, and renaming files on his server. He estimated that she caused him a loss amounting to at least $5,000.
The Wrays’ motion to dismiss insisted that Greenburg failed to state a claim in which relief can be granted. They rejected claims that the Google Drive in question was made private, noting that Jann-Michael shared a publicly accessible URL that only needed to be typed into a web address bar to be accessed. They added that Daniel couldn’t be roped into the lawsuit because claims of “ratify[ing]” Amanda’s access to the dossier weren’t proof of liability.
“Amanda cannot be liable for criminal ‘computer hacking’ just for clicking a hyperlink created by a third party (who is not a party to this action) to the URL for Greenburg’s Google Drive that Greenburg’s son published for anyone to see and use,” read the motion to dismiss.
In a follow-up reply to Greenburg’s response to their motion to dismiss, the Wrays’ attorneys again questioned his motives for suing after challenging the truthfulness of his claims. They characterized his lawsuit as a continuation of the dossier.
“This lawsuit is the latest, and hopefully last, chapter in Greenburg’s unlawful harassment and intimidation campaign against Ms. Wray and SUSD parents in retaliation for their advocacy regarding the SUSD school board,” wrote the Wrays’ attorneys. “[T]his lawsuit was brought to deter or prevent Ms. Wray from exercising her constitutional rights and right to petition [and] intended to harass and/or cause unnecessary delay or needless increase in the cost of litigation[.]”
In mid-February, a third-party forensic investigation carried out by Loehrs Forensics determined that neither the SUSD email server or four personal computers issued by SUSD were used to create, access, modify, or share the Google Drive folder containing the dossier.
Law enforcement cleared the Greenburgs of any wrongdoing. Scottsdale Police Department (SPD) determined in December the dossier didn’t violate any laws because it contained open source and public documents only. Attorney General Mark Brnovich asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate nonetheless, positing that Jann-Michael may have conspired to wield his power over parents. AZ Free News inquired with Brnovich’s office if any DOJ investigation ever took place. They didn’t respond by press time.
As AZ Free News reported, Jann-Michael admitted to having a history of sharing computers with his family members. He was also listed as one of the individuals who had editing access to the dossier.
The SUSD board voted to demote Jann-Michael from president to regular board member last November.
Scottsdale Police Department (SPD) closed its investigation into former Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) Governing Board President Jann-Michael Greenburg, demoted to board member, this week after determining it fell outside their jurisdiction.
SPD reported that it passed the case on to higher levels of law enforcement for review: the FBI, Arizona Attorney General’s Office, and Maricopa County Attorney’s Office. They also clarified that SUSD’s investigation into the matter was still underway.
SPD spokesman Kevin Quon explained in a press release that the Greenburg dossier contained open source and public documents only. Quon added that higher levels of law enforcement may investigate under their jurisdiction.
“It was determined that the drive contained open source and/or public documents. Therefore, it has been determined that no criminal conduct has been committed at this time that would be under the jurisdiction of the Scottsdale Police Department,” said Quon. “The Scottsdale portion of this investigation is now closed. Scottsdale investigators have met with the FBI, Arizona Attorney General’s Office, and the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, briefed them, and provided them with a copy of our investigation for review in determining if any criminal acts might fall under their respective jurisdictions.”
Greenburg had editing access to the Google Drive dossier that his father, Mark Greenburg, created. As AZ Free News reported, SUSD assured parents that their information was safe in an email following the dossier’s discovery. Due to the personal and sensitive nature of this case, AZ Free News won’t provide links to the dossier.
As part of his efforts to collect information for his dossier, Mark Greenburg would film parents outside of school board meetings using a body camera. He also claimed to have hired a private investigator to bolster his dossier on parents opposed to Jann-Michael.
Attorney General Mark Brnovich asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate the Greenburg dossier. In a letter first obtained by Fox News, Brnovich requested that the DOJ specifically look into whether the dossier violated the First Amendment as well as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
“Evidence has been discovered that Scottsdale Unified School District (“SUSD”) board member, Jann-Michael Greenburg, may have conspired to abuse his position of power against Arizona students and their parents,” wrote Brnovich. “A dossier containing information on those who wish to participate in their children’s education and peacefully petition their government should concern all Americans of good conscience.”
The SUSD board voted to remove Greenburg as president last month, though he remains on the board. Scottsdale parents are behind an effort to recall Greenburg from the board entirely.