Lamplighter Response Paints Cohen as Volatile, Erratic

The Lamplighter saga continues. The school, along with trustees Karen Pollock and J. David Miller, last week filed a counter-claim (which can be found here) against now former headmaster Arnold Cohen. The basic outline of the story is no surprise, as Cohen’s suit and subsequent announcements by Cohen and Lamplighter trustees have painted a picture, however hazy, of how the formerly amicable relationship came to legal blows, but the response, at times almost novelesque, gives a very detailed,  point-by-point recap (from the perspective of the school and trustees, of course) of how things have gone down.

The response portrays Cohen’s behavior in the weeks following his decision to dismiss longtime teacher Sheila McCartor as volatile and erratic, claiming that he “engaged in conduct that might varyingly be described as reckless, inconsistent, insubordinate, malicious and even outright dishonest” including “several obscenity-laden rants.” Furthermore, the original lawsuit is fabrication; Cohen “concocted a story where day is night and black is white.” The response detailed the response by Cohen during a one-on-one meeting with Miller when the trustee proposed keeping McCartor with the school in a non-teaching capacity:

“Dr. Cohen erupted. ‘You know, I am done, I don’t need this job.’ He then began yelling. ‘You can raise the f***ing money yourself, f*** you.’ Mr. Miller sat silently as Dr. Cohen got out of his chair, placed all of his weight behind it and then slammed it into the desk. Dr. Cohen leaned over the desk as if looking for something to throw, and then walked to his office door. He then told his long-time friend, ‘And as long as I am the head of this school, this is my office. Get the f*** out of here.'”

The school denies Cohen’s charges of interference with personnel decisions, breach of contract, and defamation and makes a few charges of it’s own: That Cohen abrogated his contractual obligations; that, by releasing the name of Pollock’s daughter in regards to test performance, he breached his fiduciary duty to the school; and that he damaged the school’s reputation with the suit and his subsequent behavior. The school is seeking unspecified damages for all three. It also claims that, because Cohen violated his employment contract, he was fired with just cause and, thus, is not entitled to his two years remaining salary ($222,268 in 2008, according to filings with the IRS) or to his deferred compensation ($33,405 in 2008).

5 thoughts on “Lamplighter Response Paints Cohen as Volatile, Erratic

  • July 7, 2010 at 8:01 pm
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    I doubt the average Dallas County juror will give a hoot about Arnie, The Board, Mrs. Pollock or Mr. Miller. This fool’s errand needs to come to an abrupt end. Although the salacious details of the latest filing make for an amusing read, I suspect most LL parents are more angry or confused than amused. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine why Mrs. Pollack and perhaps other Board members originally supported the decision to terminate Mrs. McCartor, particularly in light of the way it was done (no severance, no recognition of her decades of service, etc.) when it was obvious that the decision and its implementation would upset parents, faculty and alumni at a critical juncture in the School’s fundraising effort. Why didn’t the Board intervene earlier to prevent this fiasco from occurring in the first place? Why didn’t the Board step in to warn Arnie and the rest of the administration that it is not a good idea to hide negative, but clearly relevant, information from parents in a deliberate attempt to entice as many families as possible to sign enrollment contracts? Brings to mind a different f-word than the one which allegedly tripped so easily off of Arnie’s tongue . . .

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  • July 7, 2010 at 10:34 pm
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    It seems that Pollock/Miller were duplicitous and shady to the extreme. Did Miller think Cohen was going to serve him Tea and Cookies? I applaud Cohen for swearing his a– off, and throwing that fool Miller out. “Mommy, Arnie has a potty mouth, Arnie has a potty mouth, plus HE WAS ANGRY. Arnie needs to go to charm school and learn how to be indirect, sunny to a fault, and really learn to stop being authentic!”

    Is Miller asking Cohen to pay for his Post Traumatic Stress counseling. Poor David, give me a F—ing Break. Miller, the Victimizer is playing the victim. This thing needs to be tried in Divorce Court, the one on T.V.

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  • July 8, 2010 at 7:05 pm
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    “You’re kidding me” above is right particularly about parents reaction. This whole affair is so sordid and sad. Anyone following this would think Lamplighter is run by a bunch of clowns. People who REALLY know the school know that it has the most exceptional teachers at every grade level and some of the most on board, involved parents of any school. It seems Dr. Cohen must have been doing something right to hire such a talented and popular faculty. Also to inspire such loyalty in the parents of the students. I don’t claim to know the details of the reasons behind the ill-advised dismissal or how this legal back and forth got started, but the ugly accusations are flying now, and I just hope it’s not too late to step back and restore Lamplighter’s respectability in the community.

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  • July 9, 2010 at 5:23 am
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    Jen, you are the one who has it right. This affair is sordid and sad, all the way around. I suspect that many of the actions or omissions, which are now hard to fathom as one tries to digest school-yard style accusations in a lawsuit, were well-intentioned. We will never know the true facts. But one thing is clear: the lawsuit needs to end, regardless whether the Board or Dr. Cohen is “right”. That is the first step toward restoring Lamplighter’s credibility and respectability.

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