Peterson Middle School Principal Susan Harris is alleging that Santa Clara Unified Trustee Christopher Stampolis harassed and threatened her when she tried to speak to him about repeatedly picking up his child late and violating school rules for visitors.
On Sept. 24, Harris received a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against Stampolis. At an Oct. 14 hearing, Harris will ask Judge Derek Woodhouse to make the order permanent.
Incident reports from Sunnyvale Public Safety Dept. document Stampolis’ confrontational behavior, as well as a written statement by Brian Allen, a district employee who spoke to Stampolis and gave him a 14-day campus “stay away” order on Sept. 23, when Stampolis allegedly arrived more than 40 minutes after school was dismissed. These documents are part of the court record.
On Aug. 27 Stampolis “trespassed on the campus,” Harris stated in her complaint. “When I tried to speak to him about the safety of his [child], and how he was picking him up late from school, he physically came at me, invading my personal space, made violent gun-like gestures, fist gestures, and aggressively yelled at me not to talk to him,” wrote Harris. “I was very scared by his threatening behavior.” The TRO also covers Harris’ husband, Gregory Harris, and her father, Bob Buchser.
Stampolis was photographed on the school’s surveillance video, and still photos from Aug. 27 and Sept. 23 are part of Harris’ complaint.
On Sept. 14, Harris formally complained to district officials about Stampolis; charging him with uncivil conduct, harassment, and creating an unsafe work environment – also part of the court record. Harris has worked in the district for more than two decades.
Stampolis “has an intimidating and harassing presence at Peterson Middle School,” she said in her complaint to District officials. “His history of repetitive and harassing emails in which he questions his son’s teachers using threating behavior and defiance to school policies as well as with the police are all examples of his ongoing harassment.”
In August, Stampolis filed a complaint against Harris, which, Harris wrote, was “another example of ongoing harassment that I am subjected to.” Additionally, she complained, “Board Member Ina Bendis attended the investigation meeting with Board Member Stampolis on Sept. 4, 2014.” Harris’ letter says on Sept. 8 she requested “clarification” of Bendis’ “involvement in the investigation, as it appears to me her participation is a conflict of interest.” Bendis has repeatedly requested the addition of afterschool library hours at Peterson at SCUSD board meetings.
Stampolis denies the charges, and told NBC Bay Area News on Oct. 1 that the alleged gun-like gestures were “actually an open hand with keys, but she deliberately froze the frame.” He further displayed a document to NBC reporter Jean Elle, saying it was an investigation report showing his innocence. “If you look at her allegations, all of the photos she submitted don’t have her in them … so there’s no picture being submitted to the judge that has … us together.”
In fact, the complaint includes just such a picture. Stampolis was served with the TRO on Sept. 30. The hearing is scheduled for Oct. 14 at 9 a.m. at Santa Clara County Superior Court.