If elected to the Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board in the upcoming election, candidate Jann-Michael Greenburg may receive a chilly reception from some of the other board members.
The situation stems from now confirmed allegations that Greenburg’s father Mark Greenburg set up the parody website PerlebergforSUSD.com imitating SUSD Governing Board President Barbara Perleberg.
The website is no longer active.
Perleberg initiated legal proceedings to find out who was behind the website, and the Maricopa County Superior Court issued a subpoena to the website’s name registrar that revealed that Mark Greenburg purchased the domain.
According to Perleberg, the website – and a parody Twitter account that went up around the same time whose authorship has not been verified – attributed false claims and hate speech to Perleberg in an attempt to discredit her.
The Twitter account has also been deactivated.
Jann-Michael Greenburg confirmed that he knew it was his father posting on the website early on but that he had nothing to do with creating or running it.
“It would often circle back to me because the people who read it would forward (links to me),” he said. “Beyond that, it was not something I had any say in.”
Greenburg said it was just his father’s way to critique the existing SUSD board’s performance.
“My understanding and what I believe to be true is he did this as a way to highlight the negligence of the existing board and how they handled the corruption issues and delayed investigations,” he said.
He said, “Some people will find it funny and some not. That is the nature of parody.”
Perleberg pushed back on that characterization, calling the posts “ridiculous.” She said they included hateful comments attributed to her about the holocaust and AIDS patients.
“None of this was based on reality, and it was not critiquing my performance… It was just over-the-top offensive,” she said.
She added, “I believe in the press he has commended his father, believing he was justified. That makes me very concerned about his (potential) service on the governing board.”
Perleberg said she initially filed her suit to find out who was behind the website.
“Why do they get to stay in the shadows?” she said.
She said she decided not to pursue a civil suit against Mark Greenburg, because she is “not a litigious person.”
“When I did find out, realizing we are in a contentious political environment in this district, I decided it was not in my best interest to pursue this, but the community deserved to know who this individual was,” Perleberg said.
Jann-Michael Greenburg said this will not affect his ability to work with Perleberg and the rest of the board if he is elected.
Greenburg is one of two candidates, along with Patty Beckman, that will appear on the ballot to fill two vacancies on the board. Former board member Christine Schild filed to run as a write-in candidate.
“I personally would choose to work with Ms. Perleberg and others to address the issues facing the district,” he said. “Based on the way they are handling the superintendent search, it certainly appears they are willing to address these issues.”
He said that he believes “we all now share similar goals.”
However, Perleberg said the situation – which she described as very emotional and difficult – would make working with Greenburg difficult.
“It will of course be challenging, but as a board member I have faced many challenges and many difficult people along the way,” she said. “I have been committed to serving our students as best as I can, and I will continue to focus on that and do my best for SUSD.”