Perleberg, who leads the Scottsdale Unified School District governing board, filed a defamation lawsuit in Maricopa County Superior Court in April.
She announced in an op-ed submitted to The Arizona Republic on Wednesday that she was dropping the lawsuit, but that she was able to use a subpoena to discover that the writer appears to be Mark Greenburg, the father of school-board candidate Jann-Michael Greenburg.
“Although I have decided not to prosecute a claim in the interest of doing my part to re-focus the dialogue in SUSD to students and learning, I do think the public deserves to know the author,” Perleberg wrote.
“I am not a candidate this election cycle and I respect all those that seek to serve our District in a higher capacity, but they must also be held to account, just as we are, if they slay civility and decency.”
Mark Greenburg confirmed to The Republic that he is the writer.
“She now knows who I am, and she is welcome to continue the litigation,” he said. “I would welcome her prosecution of the lawsuit so that she can learn a civics lesson about our First Amendment, which is something that she does not comprehend.”
Jann-Michael Greenburg did not respond to a request for comment.
Parody site popped up last spring
The spoof accounts emerged last spring as the district was mired in controversies that included the ouster of its superintendent and the indictment of its former chief financial officer on suspicion of conflicts of interest and fraud.
The website includes photoshopped images of Perleberg and satirical language to detail concocted friendships among school-board members — dubbed the “Ladyboard.”
One post satirically explains why Perleberg ran for the school board. “I looked to see what positions were not being contested, meaning that I could run unopposed, and saw that no one was running for SUSD Governing Board, and well, here I am!”
The courts also have long protected the right to criticize public figures.
“The fact that Ms. Perleberg chose to waste her own time and the court’s time in filing a frivolous defamation claim against a parody website with the hope in mind that she could somehow intimidate me or stop anyone in the public from ridiculing an elected official is in keeping with her general lack of understanding in most everything I’ve ever seen her do as a public elected official,” Greenburg said.
Perleberg, in her op-ed, said that as an elected official, “You must have thick skin and definitely a sense of humor if you are to survive.”
However, she said the spoof accounts “went on to attribute comments to me debasing AIDS and the Holocaust. For me this was going too far, as it surely would have been for many readers.”
She later said, “When criticism gets wrapped in a hateful and offensive wrapper I think it’s time to call it out for what it is.”
The First Amendment protects Americans’ right to protest and the right to political dissent.
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Perleberg said she obtained a subpoena and GoDaddy, the website domain registrar, revealed “a computer belonging to Tresona was used to make the purchase and set up the website.”
Mark Greenburg has lived in Scottsdale since 1994 and all three of his children graduated from Scottsdale schools. His son Jann-Michael works with him at Tresona Multimedia pursuing music-copyright compliance.
Perleberg said the same computer was used to purchase several other domains, including Hartmann4SUSD.com, pamkirby.org, Greenburg4SUSD.com and jmg4susd.com.
Greenburg said he did not use the same computer to purchase the other domains, and did not purchase the campaign website for his son.
“I have nothing to do with his campaign,” Mark Greenburg said.
He added, “Her opinion of me or of any candidate for governing board would be the last thing that I would ever consider when making a decision about whether or not I should be critical of her performance.”
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