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Friday, March 4, 2011

Letters to Minor's Counsel - 8

Attorney at Law
            JUNE ADLER                                                                                   
                CERTIFIED SPECIALIST - FAMILY LAW                                                                                                        
                        CALIFORNIA BOARD OF LEGAL SPECIALIZATION                                                                                                   
                        OF THE STATE BAR OF CALIFORNIA                                                                                                                                      

                                                                         May 6, 2005

Bruce Abramson, Attorney at Law
Lenske and Abramson

Lawrence A Sobel

            Re:            Marriage of Karaiskos

Dear Counsel:

This is intended to address letters from Mr. Abramson dated May 19, 2005 and Mr. Sobel dated the same date.  I apologize in advance for the amount of history and detail that this response will require, but it seems my client has already answered some of these concerns and has not been heard.  With regard to Mr. Abramson's letter:

My client is troubled by Mr. Abramson's response regarding the children's school.  There is no doubt in my client's mind that any attempt to remove the children from Highland Hall will result in a trial.  From his first meeting with Mr. Abramson, Mr. Karaiskos described Highland Hall school as a cult environment - something that is common to many if not all Waldorf schools.  His opinion in this regard has only strengthened since then and has the support of many people who have encountered Waldorf education around the world.  That Highland Hall's curriculum introduces Anthroposophy to the students is something Mr. Karaiskos has suspected for some time, but clear and decisive evidence of the extent to which this happens has come to his attention only recently.  Neither Highland Hall, nor Ms. Karaiskos has ever indicated to Mr. Karaiskos in any way that Anthroposophy and the strange ideas of Rudolf Steiner (the founder of Anthroposophy and Waldorf schools) would be part of the curriculum.  In fact, this has been repeatedly denied by both the school and by Ms. Karaiskos, and yet the facts show otherwise.  This true intent of Waldorf education is not easily discernable at first glance or even after much involvement - especially in a cult environment where deception and denial is part of the process.

It is Mr. Karaiskos' foremost concern to protect his children from this environment - to remove them from this school.  Which school they attend outside of Highland Hall and other Waldorf schools is not nearly as important to Mr. Karaiskos as removing them from this environment.  Certainly, an entire summer is available before a decision as to exactly which school they attend has to be made.  This is not a matter of selecting one school over another, it is a matter of removing the children from an inappropriate and harmful environment

Mr. Karaiskos is extremely concerned that Mr. Abramson has not investigated his claims against the school despite many, many complaints to Mr. Abramson.  In light of this apparent fact, my client believes that the case supporting his claims can only be presented in open court and he is prepared to support these claims with a substantial mass of evidence. 

A recent first communication between my client and a total stranger, Dr. David R. Stronck, PhD, Professor, Science Education, Department of Teacher Education, California State University, Hayward, CA. yielded the following response:

I am a Professor of Teacher Education at the California State
University, East Bay.  My Ph.D. is in Science Education.  I have
reviewed some of the Waldorf materials for teaching science and have
found them silly and wrong.  I strongly agree with you that children in
a Waldorf School are being cheated out of a reasonable education.  Our
society tolerates religious schools.  Unfortunately Waldorf Schools
pretend that they are not religious while in practice they are 
promoting their strange religious philosophy.  You may quote me and I want to 
help you.  I do not want to accept money from you and would prefer to remain
simply as a reference without any need for travel.  I could be 
contacted for an interview (perhaps by phone) or could write a letter.

My client would like to invite Mr. Abramson to call Professor Stronck to assess the extent of the problems with Waldorf education curriculum and the deception they promote before suggesting that Mr. Karaiskos complaints are frivolous.  Perhaps a more evenhanded treatment of my client's position in this matter would yield a settlement possibility.  If Mr. Abramson would like the work and home phone numbers for Professor Stronck, either Mr. Karaiskos or I can provide them.

In the case that Mr. Abramson insists that the children remain at Highland Hall school where there is a cult environment, and where they are brainwashed on a daily basis to curriculum that is, in Professor Stronck's words, "silly and wrong" my client would insist on absolutely equal access to his children so that he has ample opportunity to present them with a balanced world view and address their daily concerns about what they are learning in school.  This is absolutely essential to maintain balance in their lives and it is what all three children want and have expressed to Mr. Abramson repeatedly.  Despite Mr. Abramson's opinion that Mr. Karaiskos has influenced their decision, the children truly want an equal balance between parents.  Children believe in fairness and sharing both parents equally is what ALL children of divorce want in their hearts.

It is unconscionable to Mr. Karaiskos that his children were inducted into Highland Hall deceitfully, and that Ms. Karaiskos threatened divorce when Mr. Karaiskos protested, but at this point Mr. Karaiskos wants to move forward.  He would, of course, prefer the children's removal from Highland Hall.  Any public or private school environment would be better than the wacky, religious, cult-like environment of Highland Hall.  Mr. and Ms. Karaiskos chose a completely different area to raise their family.  During this divorce, Mr. Karaiskos and the children were forced out of the family home in Newbury Park, an area where the schools the finest in the state, and an area that all three children miss.  Returning to this area would be ideal for the children as it is one of the safest cities in the U.S.  This is Mr. Karaiskos' true desire for the children, but he does not hold out hope for such cooperation from Ms. Karaiskos.  As a local alternative, Mr. Karaiskos would prefer Lawrence middle school in Chatsworth, and Chatsworth high school, also in Chatsworth.  These schools are within 5 miles of both current residences.  Despite this exercise, it remains a fact that any school suggestion by Mr. Karaiskos other than Highland Hall is sure to result in a court trial. 

It is my client's opinion that Mr. Abramson's refusal to listen to his clients, and to research Mr. Karaiskos' claims regarding Waldorf education is causing attorney's fees to be increased in this case.  A reasonable attempt by Mr. Abramson to listen to both sides of this issue, and to the repeated requests of his clients would move things toward a settlement.  Mr. Karaiskos is working toward a reasonable goal of equally shared custody, equally shared responsibility and equal division of property.  That Ms. Karaiskos has exasperated his attempts by insisting on a one-sided settlement, and that she now apparently has Mr. Abramson's support over the wishes of his own clients is unfortunate but it only strengthens my client's resolve to bring the lopsidedness of this case to the eyes of the court. 

With regard to Mr. Sobel's letter dated May 19, 2005, many of Mr. Sobel's questions have been answered above.  Custodial time is directly tied to school placement IF such placement is at Highland Hall school because Highland Hall school represents a cult-like environment where the Karaiskos children are being bombarded with "information" that is simply not true.  Highland Hall has repeatedly put the Karaiskos children in harms way.  Mr. Karaiskos has expressed in the past and again feels compelled to express that equal access to his children during the school year is essential to counteract their indoctrination into Anthroposophy which is provided by the school they currently attend and to allow them the opportunity to process this in a non-Anthroposophical environment.  Highland Hall does not make clear that it is a religious school, yet it clearly is immersed in strange religious philosophy and has religious underpinnings that are not only wacky but are spattered with racist philosophy.  Mr. Karaiskos has been very generous in his request for equal custody.  To be truly fair, Mr. Karaiskos would need to ask for an hour with the children for every hour they are in school in addition to every hour they are with their mother.

With regard to Nicholas attending Highland Hall for his senior year, Mr. Karaiskos has had to weigh the benefits of removing him against the harm of keeping him in Highland Hall.  The senior year for Waldorf students is the year most filled with indoctrination into Steiner's philosophy.  It is the year that students are asked to discard conventional science and accept Goethean science.  Nicholas has already expressed to Mr. Karaiskos that he understands the science he is learning at Highland Hall isn't real science.  Mr. Karaiskos intends to monitor Nicholas' assignments to ensure that an equal compliment of accepted science accompanies his learning experience.

A change of school for {son} and {daughter} is, indeed, necessary.  Their time at Highland Hall has been difficult to be sure.  {Son} has already been kept a year behind.  Mr. Karaiskos feels that if the children test at their grade levels, something he is not confident about, then Highland Hall could be considered for them - again, as long as equal time is given to Mr. Karaiskos for the purpose of monitoring their daily experiences.  Mr. Karaiskos would prefer to remove {son} and {daughter} from Highland Hall.  Many of their friends have been removed from this school and are thriving in the schools they currently attend.  {Son} and {daughter}, while perhaps initially opposing this change, will also thrive in a new school environment.

The bottom line is that Highland Hall is a potentially harmful environment that is not providing the children with anything that resembles a good education.  The children should be removed.  Where they are placed is of secondary importance as any public school will have state standards, testing, actual text books and safeguards that Highland Hall does not have.  Ms. Karaiskos, because of her religious convictions to Anthroposophy and Waldorf education, will fight this in court.  There will be no settlement possible in this case as long as Ms. Karaiskos insists on keeping the children in Highland Hall AND denies Mr. Karaiskos equal access to the children.  Mr. Karaiskos has discovered that Highland Hall is a cult environment and he will not willingly submit his children into it any longer without safeguards.

Addressing the issue of funds for Ms. Karaiskos' car, I believed my letter was sufficiently clear in this regard without going into great detail.  It now seems necessary to provide additional background.  Ms. Karaiskos drained the family equity line of credit of $20,000 at the beginning of these proceedings.  In doing so, she left my client without the resources to hire an attorney.  My client ended up having to represent himself in court.  Meanwhile he asked for and received Ms. Karaiskos' cooperation in applying for a $10,000 extension to the equity line of credit (the maximum allowable at the time and payments on which Mr. Karaiskos alone was making) so that he could borrow the money against it to secure an attorney.  Ms. Karaiskos later withdrew her cooperation on Mr. Sobel's advice and Mr. Karaiskos was compelled to ask the court for permission to allow this transaction.  When he did, Mr. Sobel insisted on an equal amount to be disbursed to himself.  This undermined Mr. Karaiskos' attempts to hire an attorney as the requested amount would have been cut in half.  This put my client at a huge disadvantage throughout the first year of these proceedings and led to the lopsided stipulated order that Mr. Karaiskos has been fighting ever since.  Mr. Sobel and his client have already reached or exceeded their half of the equity of the home.  Cooperation is one thing, simply handing over 16 years of equity in the family home is another.

With regard to the discovery responses, I have explained to Mr. Sobel that I was out of the office when his demands were made.  My client only received them a week ago and is having his accountant prepare two years of income tax returns.  Mr. Sobel has already threatened to bring in a forensic accountant and my client wants to be sure there are not errors or discrepancies that will suggest to Mr. Sobel that this is necessary.  Again, Mr. Sobel has set a precedent in this.  When Mr. Karaiskos was acting pro per in this case, he delivered his discovery documents to Mr. Sobel's office.  When it was requested that Mr. Karaiskos leave the documents for Mr. Sobel's staff to copy, Mr. Karaiskos did so.  After several requests for the return of his original documents (over a week had dragged on) Mr. Karaiskos' was told that his documents had finally been copied and again, Mr. Karaiskos came to Mr. Sobel's office to pick them up.  However, when Mr. Karaiskos made his request for discovery, Mr. Sobel completely ignored Mr. Karaiskos' request and only provided him with discovery documents not only weeks late but, in fact, as they were entering the courtroom.  Mr. Karaiskos has a witness that will verify this if necessary.  As if that weren't enough, Mr. Karaiskos realized after looking at the documents that most of the relevant information was obscured because Mr. Sobel's staff had placed the cancelled check for each expense over the document - and a second discovery request had to be made to recover the information on the documents.  Mr. Sobel is in no position to complain about Mr. Karaiskos' timely response having already set a precedent of disregard for proper procedure.  Mr. Karaiskos is preparing the discovery documents in a timely manner and will have them ready as soon as possible - hopefully by Monday.

On another note, Mr. Karaiskos is extremely disappointed in Mr. Abramson for divulging to {son} that one parent (obviously Mr. Karaiskos) wanted to keep him from going on the school camping trip.  There was absolutely NO reason for Mr. Abramson to express this to {son} except in an attempt to undermine Mr. Karaiskos as a parent.  Furthermore, Mr. Abramson asked {son} if Mr. Karaiskos had been asking him about attending other schools - again, there is no reason to ask this question.  Now {son} is needlessly worrying about having to be removed from his school when, in fact, no such action is currently being taken.  Mr. Karaiskos feels that a line has been crossed here and that the attention of the judge in this matter needs to be directed to Mr. Abramson's performance as the children's attorney.  Furthermore, because Mr. Abramson has been unwilling to accept the repeated requests from his clients for a fair custody schedule, Mr. Karaiskos feels Mr. Abramson is dragging this case into court and should be held accountable for this.  Mr. Karaiskos feels Mr. Abramson is neither representing the Karaiskos children nor acting in their best interests when he undermines one parent with unnecessary comments and Mr. Karaiskos intends to ask that Mr. Abramson be removed as children's counsel.