This is Episode 15 in the story of the formation, rise and fall of the little education collective that used to exist up here on our mountain. I wrote and posted this account three years ago on my blog and then pulled it off because someone whose name I had not changed, objected. Now I have changed both the name of the little school itself, and the names of everyone who might be negatively impacted, and plan to re-post the story, one episode per day, until all 32 are again on my blog.
This being the fifteenth episode, I think a little recap is in order. America does love a scoreboard, and I am no exception. Until this point there had been five cases settled within the court system, and a sixth that was decided without a trial. The five cases, in the order that they were decided, are as follows:
On March 21, 1989, the Mendocino County Superior Court enjoined Imika from annoying, harassing, alarming or threatening defendant Mark O’Neill or members of his family, and made it mutual.
On September 6, 1989 Imika was held in contempt of court, for having knowingly and willfully violated said order on four separate occasions.
On February 15, 1990, the Mendocino County Superior Court held that Joe and the Wellspring Education Collective had acquired an easement by prescription over plaintiff’s property.
On August 24th, 1990, the Mendocino County Superior Court entered judgment in favor of Mark O’Neill on his libel claim against Imika.
On December 8, 1990, I was exonerated of Imika’s contention that I was in contempt of court, stemming from the restraining order.
Additionally, on April 2nd, 1991, Imika was enjoined from alarming, annoying, harassing, threatening, striking, making physical contact with, keeping under surveillance, following or telephoning Joe, or the following members of his family: Karen, Tim, Mikhail or Sara. In addition Joe and Imika were ordered to stay one hundred yards away from each other, and the family and household members named above, their respective places of residence, their respective places of employment, and their respective children’s schools or places of child care.
The case involving Dr. Brian O’Neill was settled prior to Brian’s having to actually make the drive up from Martinez, to appear in Judge Orr’s court.
The time had arrived for Imika to take her place on the stage of her life, that made for the greatest drama. Here we were, the members of Bell Springs, finally beginning to relax from the onslaught of legalese in which we had been immersed, when she rose up again, once more triumphant, as we transport the case to the Law Offices of Bernard C. DePaoli of Eureka, California.
Here, Imika and her imagination, together with the obviously bottom-feeding Mr. DePaoli, concocted what might possibly be the most far-fetched, and totally spurious of all of the lawsuits. Well, I felt that the original case against me was ludicrous, because the idea that I had put Misha in danger was a joke.
Here in benign Eureka, the two of them fabricated a lawsuit of Jarndycian proportions. Jarndyce versus Jarndyce was a fictitious court case from Dickens’ Bleak House. Dickens used it to attack the Chancery Court System as being near worthless. In this modern fictitious narrative, Imika maintained that Bell Springs had deprived her of her constitutionally- guaranteed First Amendment Rights.
Gasp. Gulp. Excuse me? Is this a joke? Imika had been deprived of HER rights? After all of the time we had spent in court with her? Now, however, we were in a new league; we had been bumped from the Mendocino County Superior Court System, to the United States District Court. Imika had gone postal in her desire to attain the Big Stage. She had named as defendants in this most recent acrobatic of legal efforts, the Laytonville Unified School District, Brian B. [Superintendent], Richard M. [Principal of Laytonville Elementary/Middle School], Karen [contract teacher], Suzanne, Tom, Joe, Mark O’Neill [contract teacher], Lynn, Marbry, John, Annie, Bill W. [School Board], Dan K. [School Board], Will, Kitty, Beth, Marguerite, Al, and Mark I. [LUSD].
Interestingly enough, the fact the the district was involved, meant that all of us who were district employees, were under the protection of the district lawyers, which was fine for me. Unfortunately, Annie was not included, being in the same position as all of the other Wellspring members who were named in the suit.
Therefore, we found ourselves once more in the Law Offices of Mr. Barry Vogel, Esquire. It was an interesting situation, because of the presence of collaborating lawyers, each responsible for a portion of the defendants. Barry warned us that we should not take her accusations lightly, because the nature of the violation carried consequences with it. On the other hand, the fact that Imika’s failure to provide the parental input into Misha’s education, was the exclusive reason for finally dismissing Asha from the collective in the first place, should require that the accusation, by definition, be directed at herself. By not fulfilling her obligations as Asha’s parent, she had deprived Asha of the right to continue participation in the little school.
Barry determined that it made the most sense to assign one of the Bell Springs members as the contact person, between Barry and all of the involved members. It would obviously be easier for Barry and thus more economical for the group, if all questions could be routed through Will. I do not think it mattered who was the contact person, and Will was willing to transcribe the questions and get them to Barry, and he was willing to do the same for the responses.
Barry discussed his fees also. I have not mentioned the fees up until this point, more because it has no bearing on the issues themselves, and because I can’t do it without putting too personal of a slant on the whole story. By keeping my take on the lawyer’s fees to myself, I hope to keep the whole narrative in the most objective light as possible. It was what it was, and nothing else. There were others who had a different take on it.
I was down at Bart’s farm one day, where Rob and I had been doing the block foundation for the big kitchen that he had built. In discussing the string of allegations against Imika, and the series of legal battles that ensued, he said flatly, “I don’t understand why you don’t just blow her away.”
Taken aback, I responded, “What? What, are you crazy? You’re talking to Winnie the Pooh.”
He shot back at me, “You people are a bunch of Christian Fascist assholes, with your lawyers and your court battles. One of you should just blow her away.”
Christian Fascist assholes? What did that look like? Apparently, to Bart, it looked like us.
“Whoa, Bart. You’ve been watching too much Vito Corleone on the tube. That isn’t the way we do business. I’m not even believing you’re talking to me like this. You obviously confused me with Al Pacino, and the Corleone Family.”
My point is that not everyone saw Imika from the same perspective. As a community, we had gone from being a supportive entity of her and Misha, to an adversarial one, but only because we had no choice. Imika could accuse us of anything and we simply had to defend ourselves.