Judge denies Baron’s request for results of Voorheesville bullying investigation

NEW SCOTLAND — Albany County Supreme Court Judge Kimberly O’Connor, on Jan. 28, denied Robert Baron’s request to compel the Voorheesville Central School District to hand over the results of an investigation into complaints of player bullying that took place during the 2017-18 girls’ varsity basketball season and school year. 

“The information sought relates to Baron’s separation from employment, and such information is solely within the possession of the District, which should not be able to use such information as a shield and a sword,” Harold Gordon, Baron’s lawyer, wrote in a September 2018 court filing seeking the disclosure of the results of the confidential player-bullying investigation.

Baron filed suit in March 2018, claiming the district fraudulently induced him to resign as head coach of the girls’ varsity basketball team. He wants his job back.

The district arrived at the conclusion that no bullying had taken place after not one but two separate investigations into the alleged incident, the basis of which, the district asserts in an October 2018 court filing, had been a complaint emailed to the school district in June 2018 — seven months after Baron had resigned as head coach of the girls’ varsity basketball team. 

And since the investigation was conducted after Baron’s November 2017 resignation, the district objected to handing over any findings because “absolutely nothing learned by the District … could have influenced [its] decision-making process as it concerned Baron’s employment…”

The district further states in its October 2019 court filing that Baron’s September 2019 request should be denied because he’s seeking “to compel” the disclosure of a confidential investigation that had been triggered by a complaint filed under the state’s Dignity for All Students Act, known as DASA. That “process,” the district states, “is a confidential one that implicates the privacy interests of students.”

And because of the confidential nature of the DASA process, the district, in its Oct. 8 court filing, claims “there is nothing that Baron can hope to uncover through disclosure of any DASA materials that could possibly lend support to his position in this action. Simply put, the DASA investigation is completely irrelevant to the issues in this case … .”

The court sided with the school district in its argument. 

According to the Jan. 28 decision from O’Connor, “The Court is inclined to agree with the District that the documents and information sought by Baron related to the bullying complaint and investigation are not material and necessary to his claims in this litigation. 

“Notably, the bullying complaint and investigation occurred several months after Baron resigned as coach of the Team. Furthermore, the complaint involves conduct between students, and there is no mention of Baron in the complaint and there are no allegations of any conduct occurring at the time Baron was coaching the Team. 

“Moreover, Baron has failed, in this Court’s opinion, to establish a connection between the bullying complaint and investigation and his causes of action. 

Baron previously stated in court papers that the information contained in the bullying investigation — information that had been “solely within the possession of the District” — had, in fact, been “directly related to, involved, and concerned” his “separation from employment,” which, he claimed, is why the district was required to disclose its contents.

Baron’s September 2019 court filing also states that, in addition to several of the bullying allegations relating to or referencing Baron directly, some of the alleged bullying took place during Baron’s tenure coach.

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