by Barrett Seaman –
Days before The Journal News tax columnist David McKay Wilson published the results of his four-month long investigation into alleged moonlighting by Jesse Lubinsky with tech giant Google’s education partner EdTech, the Irvington school board announced that Lubinsky, the school’s Director of Technology and Information, had abruptly resigned his position. Irvington’s 10533 community Facebook page lit up with questions about how Lubinsky, a popular teacher and award-winning administrator, could have pulled off what Wilson’s story described as flagrant double-dipping on his part and lax oversight on the part of the school’s administration. The story was specific in terms of times, dates and dollars.
In response, the school board announced that it was “reviewing what appeared to be discrepancies associated with the records of a particular employee, who we can identify today as Mr. Jesse Lubinsky.” The statement went on to say, “Our review of this matter, which is being led by the Board of Education’s legal counsel, has not concluded with Mr. Lubinsky’s resignation. We ask for your patience and understanding as we complete this work, and we look forward to further communicating with our community in the coming weeks.”
Key to Wilson’s story was the sleuthing of Irvington parent Della Marie Lenz, a computer-savvy former bank security technologist, who first detected in Lubinsky’s Twitter posts what she saw as evidence that he was working for more than just the Irvington Union Free School District (IUFSD). Unable to get answers, despite filing numerous Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests, Lenz turned to Wilson for help. The veteran reporter’s own FOIL applications and related questioning proved more fruitful, resulting in the lengthy report his newspaper published at the end of January.
Two weeks later, however, Jesse Lubinsky fired back, suing Lenz for $6 million in damages for defamation and libel. In the lawsuit, he alleges that Lenz has had a longstanding, contentious and litigious relationship with the school district generally and with Lubinsky himself specifically. The suit claims that she was once banned from participating as a parent volunteer at the Main Street School and that the ban was upheld twice. It also notes that she ran, unsuccessfully, last year for a seat on the school board. The suit further recounts actions on Lenz’s part that Lubinsky alleges were designed to undermine his position and ultimately to win school contracts for her husband’s home-based tech consulting company, Olafe, LLC.
Lenz, according to the suit, attacked Lubinsky’s “intelligence, professionalism and/or character to everyone and anyone who would listen.”
“As a result of the intentional, malicious, wanton, tortuous and libelous conduct of Lenz,” the complaint reads, “Lubinsky has been terminated from all his employment, and offers of future employment were rescinded.”
Asked to clarify the apparent discrepancy as to how Lubinsky’s employment ended, the school reaffirmed that he was not fired: he resigned.
As for her collaboration with The Journal News, Lubinsky’s suit states that “the articles published by the journalist [Wilson], initially in The Journal News Media Group, are now the subject matter of a lawsuit which is now or will be pending in the New York County Supreme Court.”
As of this writing, there is no confirmation that any complaint has been filed against either The Journal News or Wilson, but people familiar with the matter generally expect that one will eventually be filed in Manhattan, where the courts would have jurisdiction over matters related to the paper’s parent company, Gannett. When asked, Wilson, under advisement from his editors at The Journal News, texted that he had no comment.
The Irvington School District was not named in Lubinsky’s suit against Lenz and stated that it will let existing investigations go forward, including reviews by the Board of Education’s counsel, and an independent audit of the District Human Resources procedures.
Lenz has until mid-March to respond. As of late February, she was said to be seeking legal counsel, and friends say she is determined to mount a vigorous defense.