Previous Scottsdale school boards, this board and future boards will continue to grapple with the unrelenting efforts by private and charter schools to draw students from our public schools. It is a reality of this Arizona era of school choice.
Since joining the Scottsdale Unified School District governing board, I have sought new ways via policy and shifts in culture to help our district best compete and become the ultimate choice. In some areas we have succeeded and in others we clearly failed. And, as a fellow board member of mine observed, perhaps the change we sought to better compete was too fast and too severe.
The past year has been incredibly challenging, but under our acting superintendent calm is returning where turmoil resided.
Any elected official, including myself, understands the kudos and criticism that come with public service. You must have thick skin and definitely a sense of humor if you are to survive.
The latter is particularly valuable in an age of social media when “parody” accounts can rise up to mock with anonymous ferocity. Surely any reader would agree, however, that when a “parody” website actually tries to impersonate you and spew hateful speech that you find repugnant, something should be done.
In my case, a website went up named PerlebergforSUSD.com along with a fake Twitter account. The website was created in my name and, using an unauthorized image, appeared to be requesting donations by and for me.
And while its real purpose was clearly to discredit me during a time of heated debates and difficult decisions, the website and Twitter account also 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. I filed a defamation complaint and obtained a subpoena to unmask the author. That subpoena was successful.
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 appears to be Mr. Mark Greenburg, father of newly announced Scottsdale School Board candidate Jann-Michael Greenburg. 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 is the president of Tresona Multimedia, the same company that employs Jann-Michael Greenburg. The address used to purchase the website is the same one used by Jann-Michael Greenburg on his candidate’s campaign filings.
In the information disclosed by GoDaddy, it appears a computer belonging to Tresona was used to make the purchase and set up the website. The same computer was used to purchase several other domains including Hartmann4SUSD.com, pamkirby.org, Greenburg4SUSD.com and jmg4susd.com.
Again, I welcome criticism. It opens doors to debate, brings a marketplace of ideas, and makes us stronger. But when criticism gets wrapped in a hateful and offensive wrapper I think it’s time to call it out for what it is.
I also think the time has come for our community to put down the swords and replace them with constructive tools we can use to move forward and best serve our students, teachers, schools and district.
Barbara Perleberg is president of the Scottsdale Unified School District governing board.
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