Memo From Michael 938.2: Good Wolf Versus Evil Wolf

I haven’t written a personal note for quite a while.

Earlier this week I revealed that I have been preoccupied for more than six months with a lawsuit my family and I reluctantly filed against the Archer School for Girls, its head of school Elizabeth English and its Board of Trustees (see to read about the case).

The quotation I’ve posted here pinpoints the dilemma between our best and worst instincts. In this case, on the one hand there’s the desire to protect my children and others who have been, or might be, subjected to the kind of misconduct we outline in the claim. (We hope to change the law under which private schools operate.) On the other hand, there’s a more basic and base desire to inflict punishment on someone who has hurt my family. While I believe the better motives dominate, I can never be sure how much my decision was also feeding the evil wolf.

As a former law professor who taught litigation, I know better than many that lawsuits are a very clumsy tool for resolving disputes. I came to believe it is foolish to take this route before exhausting all other options. Still, I appreciate and am extremely grateful for our legal system, which allows us to seek redress, and hold accountable, people and institutions that perpetrate harm on us (in this case, my children), especially when it is malicious. Only time will tell whether this decision was wise or not. I know it will be costly – not only financially, but to my reputation. (There will be some who believe this is inconsistent with my role as an ethicist.)

In the meantime, I comfort myself (hopefully, not deluding myself) with the reminder that character is doing the right thing even when it costs more than you want to pay.

Comments 59

  1. Karen

    You are right that it is so difficult to do the right thing sometimes and yet you know deep inside what you have to do.

  2. Rev.John Benedict

    Dear Bro. Josephson, The Lord knows your heart… remember, it’s worse to know that a wrong has been committed and to do nothing, than it is to not know that a wrong has been done and stand silent in ignorance. AND, we do have a charge to stand up for the right, for those who might be otherwise wronged, if we were to remain silent about the transgression we have seen or suffered. This must not be confused with ‘turning the other cheek’, as some might want to suggest. That principle applies only to our ‘personal testimony’ that someone might want to object to, so we endure that ‘for Jesus’ sake’. But that is a different condition. I will be praying for you in this that the Lord will work out all the details of this situation for you, and yours, and for His glory. In Jesus Name, John

    1. Post
      Michael Josephson

      Dear Rev. Benedict – your good wishes and prayers are much appreciated. Even more so the friendship you have shown with this supportive note. Thank you.

  3. Ed Schnittger

    Dear Michael:

    I was shocked and astounded to read this, your latest post. I had attributed your “absence” from posting fresh commentaries to cost-cutting/downsizing as you moved into retirement from day-to-day operations of the Institute and the blog. Clearly, you were otherwise occupied. I regret the situation you find yourself and your loved ones to be in.

    As a 40-year educator in both public and private schools, I am deeply disappointed and embarrassed by the actions of my professional colleagues toward your daughters and toward Anne and yourself. I rue the fact that we (school administrators, teachers, and staff) continue to live and (all too often) die still clinging to the one-size-fits-all, zero-tolerance, mandated sentencing, three-strikes-and-you’re-out, because-I-said-so code of school discipline, while at the same time we (like Archer) pride ourselves on our progressive, child-centered focus.

    I have reviewed in detail every document on the Josephson v. Archer website. From my perspective as a former special education administrator I observe clear grounds for a Federal discrimination on the basis of disability (or perceived disability) case to be made in, at the very least, C1’s situation, under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (amended 2009). Reasonable accommodations could have easily been made for C1 and were not. If even $1.00 of Federal funding could be found in Archer’s budget, the school could be shown to discriminate if it does not accommodate her worsening psychological condition. The US Department of Justice’s Office of Civil Rights would be very interested, I believe. Just a thought.

    Please continue to update your readers on the status of the case. I pray for the best for your daughters and for Anne and yourself.


    Ed Schnittger

  4. The Mama

    A wise man recently posted on his Character Counts! website…
    “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke
    I too have been going through a similar situation with my church which I have loved and been a part of for 35 years. Your posts have inspired me to keep fighting. While it is hard and uncomfortable, and there are times it would be easier to quit, we must do what we believe to be right. You are leading by example and teaching your children how to stand up, but more importantly how much you love and cherish them and won’t let anyone harm them.

    God bless you and your family.

    1. Post
  5. Ira Anwar

    I am really sorry to hear what happened to your daughters. It is such an irony that how you have helped a lot of other people healing through your sharing and something unthinkable happened to your own family. I am sure all of those people who you’ve touched are now praying for you and your family in this difficult situation. That alone will give you and your family such a huge “comfort” in addition to the support from your loved ones. We’ll be thinking of you and your family. God Bless You and Your Family!!!

    1. Post
  6. Mom 247

    Keep fighting for your daughters. You are a good man and a good father and many will see that you think things through thoroughly and you did what the right thing; what was necessary for the situation.

    Six years ago, I was in a similar situation (pre lawsuit). I fought the right. I knew what was being done was wrong. It involved bullying on many levels. Bullying of my child and bullying of me because the parent was in a position of authority and thought they could.

    It’s a difficult situation to be in, especially if the school doesn’t stand behind you. I have found that sometimes too many things are intertwined (for example, the parent in authority votes on raises for the principal, thus the principals loyalty may be skewed).

    I completely understand how hard it is to stand up for the right thing-many men would walk away. Like a previous commentor said, from your website and I strongly believe:
    “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke

    Stand tall in your fight and regardless of the outcome, you are making the world a better place and will encourage others to do the same because of your strength in character. May God bless you and lead you in your fight. I will pray for you and your family.

  7. Dr. Y. Dino

    I can’t fathom how the founders and board would allow the actions taken against your other girls to become examples of the leadership lessons taught at Archer. Actions speak louder than words and carefully crafted mission statements. I would not want my daughter to associate with, let alone be taught by people who tolerate or reward such behavior! 458 other students at Archer are watching and learning from this conflict.

    I wish all the best for you and your family.


  8. Sue Hill

    The “Battle Within” is a lesson for each of us. May all be well for you and the family regarding the lawsuit. Thinking of you, Michael, and sending all good wishes, as always, dear friend.

  9. Annie B

    Your daughter was disrespectful. She was warned there would be consequences and chose to behave poorly again. She should have been disciplined. Both sides agree on all of that. It appears the only disagreement is whether your daughter should have been granted special treatment.

    Rather than teaching her self control, respect of others and accepting the consequences of her actions, you are teaching her that if she is not given special treatment she should file a law suit? I admire you tremendously, but I think you got this one wrong.

  10. John.

    I read about your lawsuit with the school. Although I do not know all the details, the fact that you were unable to negotiate a satisfactory settlement and had to file a lawsuit led me to unsubscribe from your newsletter.

    1. Dr. Y. Dino

      The negotiation of a satisfactory settlement is not a one sided responsibility. Do you believe that it is Israel’s fault that a “satisfactory settlement” has not been reached with the Palestinians and their other Arab neighbors?

  11. Richard A. Golden

    More than 43 years ago you were (and still are) one of my most cherished professors of law (private joke: Farmer Jack). In the intervening years, I picked up a piece of wisdom that I also cherish: Except for physical combat, civil litigation is the worst way to resolve disputes.

  12. John L.

    As I looked through the special website, I was expecting to read that something horrible had happened to a student. Talk about overkill and over reaction. … Heaven forbid that this child enter the military or work in a semi-military organization like a police department … where their parent’s position, profession, money and influence can’t dispute, deflect and then unfortunately aggravate the consequences applied by an established and known code of conduct. It appears that you have engrained your family so deep in this situation that there is little hope of a good outcome for anyone, especially the children involved. Based on all the Character Counts writings and literature I have read, I sure would not have expected this type of NIMBY reaction and witch hunt.

  13. K

    While I do not know all the details, I have know The Josephson family for nearly 10 years. My intuition tells me that Archer must have done deplorable things that were not getting resolved using any other means, to have brought them to file a lawsuit. Thank you for putting yourself out on a limb to protect your children, and surly others who have been mistreated. You have my support.

  14. Julie

    As a parent and an educator your daughter was disrespectful to her teachers. As a parent you may may dismiss her actions as “sassy” but try having one “sassy” child mistreat you in front of a class.
    You have misjudged yourself on this matter and using your “I am a lawyer” makes it worse for your family and what are you teaching your daughters?
    You are saying “we deserve to be treated better than everyone else, even if we don’t utilize our proper manners or show true character.”
    Stop this lawsuit! Own up to your over reaction…your family will learn more and maybe learn to value their actions upon others in this world.

  15. John L

    I find it the ultimate form of hypocrisy to ask for special treatment for your misbehaving and disrespectful daughter. You state she is “sassy” , I call her disrespectful. Please be a true father and teach your daughter that in life there are consequences for inappropriate and disrespectful behavior. I used to listen to you on knx, and known I know you were just a windbag.

  16. fellinnehoney

    Mr Josephson, these comments appear to have been screened such that the vast majority are in sympathy with your lawsuit. The comments on the LA Times website seem to me what a person who actually practices “character counts” would write. Your attack and litigation against the school in defense of your “sassy” 17 yr. old daughter is smearing your reputation. But my concern is your daughter. I think you have tied a millstone around her neck that will harm her character development. And this digital age will for all time will reveal this unfortunate incident every time an employer, university, future boyfriend, spouse does a search on your daughter. And if they overlook this episode in the face of their personal impressions of her they may not overlook their impressions of you. An ethics guru who doesn’t practice what he preaches and harms his daughter is not someone a business would rush to use as a consultant nor would a family regard him favorably as the father of the daughter who their son was considering for marriage. The bride and groom not only marry each other but the families are married. I think many families would think twice before having their son acquire a litigious, thin-skinned, overly defensive father-in-law. I hope your “sassy” daughter matures into a fine, well rounded, lovely woman and that your ego has not harmed her irreparably.

  17. Steve Sew

    I am saddened by your behavior and actions. Your interpretation of what’s right and wrong in this case (and some others, in my experience) leads you to actions that are contrary to your self anointed declarations. How very hurtful you are.

    Unsubscribe me from your newsletter and your life

  18. Joseph Goldstein

    For an intelligent man, you are going down such a dangerous, foolish road that has already affected your family beyond your expectations. You are thrusting public humiliation on your daughters now and certainly for their entire lives. I am sure as you reflect on your foolishness this very moment, you regret you ever started this whole episode. Does your wife really agree with your actions 100%?..I believe there is more to this matter than meets the eye!

  19. Brandon

    Being a consultant in human capital management and having a series of articles published on ethics in business relationships; it seems Mr. Josephson’s red line in the sand is not an objection to a reasonable disciplinary measure against an acknowledged transgression by his daugher; but against an irrational act of administrative overreach engaging in improper influence over staff, teachers and a governing body. What parent would not defend but rather allow an administrator to stand in the way of a child walking graduation; particularly a vulnerable child? What parent would allow an overzealous administrator to penalize a completely innocent sibling who had no involvement in the incident? What parent would allow a school employee or governing entity [or anyone] to penalize an entire family with expulsion, perpetual exclusion and the character assassination of each member of the family and malign their collective reputations?

    There are situations when all good faith efforts have failed that defensive measures aren’t enough; where the best defense is a good offense. Was the ‘governing body’ ‘for show only’ and unduly influenced i.e. derelict in exercising its charter responsibilities? Can any professional, particularly an acclaimed ethicist of national renowned stand silent in the face of an attack? Beyond the business side of the equation there are indeed unreasonable people in the world; people whose sense of self-importance no know bounds, and must be confronted. Sociopaths for example, inflict emotional pain on others with a passion and without limit, unless confronted. While I can’t say whether this school administrator in this situation is a sociopath; was the prescribed discipline of excluding C1 from high school graduation [a one-time life’s event] over a single outburst, reasonable discipline? Was ouster of C2 from the school program reasonable or responsible professional behavior? Was alienation of an entire families deep-rooted social relationships a moral or reasonable act in the face of an otherwise long, good standing affiliation within this school and community?

    Finally, and most importantly from my perspective as a fellinnehoney’s simplistic analysis presumes too much in the relation to: (1) the implied damage of Josephson’s standing/reputation in the business community from this action; and (2) more specifically to C1’s future employability or desirability as a spouse or any other relationship. All things being equal such assertions are over-the-line and without merit. The real “millstone around her neck” will come from the harm of continued character assassination of a child who will eventually develop the executive decision making capacity absent in people under [about] age 25.

    1. Joseph Goldstein

      Brandon…that’s quite an attorney type commentary. I would like to ask you a question. Do you now or have ever had a business, legal, personal or similar type of acquaintance with Mr. Josephson? True or False? That’s quite a legal one-sided analysis.
      With all respect, I feel you are wrong!

  20. Brandon

    Joseph, no, in fact, quite the contrary. I once applied for a senior position with the Josephson Institute, but my application was denied. Furthermore, if you search the archives of What Will Matter, you will find that I have taken Michael to task on more than one occasion; specifically most recently the June 28, 2014 entry “QUOTE & OBSERVATION: All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing. — Edmund Burke” [].

    I was [about] 2007 when I first engaged Mr. Josephson on the immigration issue. I have similarly challenged him from time-to-time, with the same result i.e. he felt this was not an issue he was comfortable addressing. Ironically, the immigration issue, both legal and illegal [in my opinion] are little different than the one in which he now finds himself and his family embroiled. American, as a nation, is our family. America’s interests are not being [and have not been] well served by our top administrators e.g. current and recent past presidents and certain members of congress, people bought and paid for by the likes of K-street lobbyists. These people are not leaders. We need leaders. Every ethicist in the country should be speaking and writing about the immigration related challenges, the balkinization that is taking place and literally destroying America, brick by brick.

    All that said, I intentionally did not bring up my feeling on immigration in the context of Mr. Josephson’s feud with the school; as I didn’t want to appear to be engaging in self-serving behavior. All that being said, you asked [close to indicted me] if I was a shill for Mr. Josephson. I am not. There are things I don’t agree with him on. I do nevertheless agree with his action against the school administrator and the cowardly board of governance.


  21. Joseph Goldstein

    Wow….you do have a way with words (on and on)….so the answer to my question is you have in fact had a relationship with Mr. Josephson over the you’re not impartial. It’s a good thing you’re not being paid by the word for that lengthy wandering (immigration??) reply. It’s rather off-subject!

    Going further, I am certain that in the future there will be a play, movie, tv series or book on this fiasco that will haunt his daughters forever…they are the sufferers in this matter.


    1. Mark L

      Really, Joseph? Brandon spells out that he takes issue with Mr. Josephson’s silence on the subject of immigration (and subtly implies that he feels this is borderline hypocritical in the context of Mr. Josephson’s stated position on importance of NOT remaining silent on important, similar issues), and goes on to tell us he was denied employment at The Josephson Institute… and your conclusion is that as a result, he is now somehow in the Josephsons’ pocket?

  22. Mark L

    First, in response to the observation that the comments seem “screened” and mostly sympathetic to the Josephsons, I am having a hard time coming to that conclusion.

    And I also had the thought, “Gee, C1 was disrespectful more than once, doesn’t she have to ‘face the music’ at some point?”

    But upon reading the info on the website (and one would need to take some time to read it… there’s a lot there), it would seem that the lawsuit was a course of last resort in response to an escalating situation and series of actions/sanctions that became broader and broader, and, consequently, further and further removed from the original classroom incident.

    It’s not a black and white world, as I often tell my kids, and there are times when flexibility, compassion and nuance are required if you want to try to figure out “OK, what is really the right thing to do here?” It’s a shame (as is, unfortunately, so often the case) that “digging in” became the strategy and action plan, especially when children were involved.

  23. P.J.

    The real focus should be on what Archer did to Mr. Josephson’s second daughter. In addition, banning his two older daughters from the Archer campus after they have already graduated speaks volumes about Ms. English.

    1. Post
      Michael Josephson

      Thank you for your comment. It may not change any thing but after another night of tossing and turning I revised my previous post and tried to refine my thinking. -MJ

  24. Joseph Goldstein

    Mr. Josephson…despite your elegant professorial rationalization and intellectual use of words better suited for lectures or writings…the bottom line is that you started a spark that has ignited into a forest fire and all your rationalization- right or wrong- will have far more consequences than you anticipate.

  25. Cheryl

    Wow… there sure is a lot to consider on the web site and in these very interesting comments. On the surface, standing up for the school’s code of conduct and established consequences seems to be highly commendable. But, as most people seem to agree, the escalating actions of the school, involving a total family ban, just isn’t right or fair…. And I agree too! As others have pointed out, due to the actions of people on both sides, the situation has spun out of control and there is no good outcome in site.

    I can only conclude that the genesis of this mess is an involved, loving and caring parent, who was acting in a manner that was overprotective (inserting themselves and using vastly inordinate amounts of time and effort to “politely” force an alternative punishment) and intimidating (regardless of intent or politness, a wealthy, influential, previous benefactor, with a spouse on the Board of Directors is always intimidating to any staff person). Add on to that, initiating a lawsuit and creating a special web site to publically express their concerns and views … well, to me, that all seems to add up to some good old fashion righteous bullying. The situation just sucks and it seems to be up to the person who started it all, to be the person who puts a stop to it. Are you up for that Michael or are you gong to keep heading down the never-ending path of mutual destruction?

    1. Joseph Goldstein

      Cheryl…you’re right on the mark..In this instance, you can win the battle and lose the war. The consequences of this situation will be felt for many the wife and daughters. There was no reason not to comply with school policy…whether the ethicist thought so or not! This situation is so typical of current mentality!

      1. Post
        Michael Josephson

        I simply can’t understand why so many of you focus entirely on the conduct related to the one who got herself in trouble. While I still believe that Ms. English’s refusal to discuss or consider any alternative way to meet her needs in very wrong but we would not have sued if that is all that happened. How can you be sanguine about how my totally innocent second daughter was treated? Hoe can it be okay to retaliate against an innocent girl to punish me for standing up for my other daughter. And how can it be okay that then the school bans the daughters they already hurt from going to the graduation of their friends AND banning our two other daughters from attending alumni events and visiting old teachers? I am baffled that these wrongs — far greater and clearer than the first are tolerated by good and thoughtful people like you.

      2. Post
        Michael Josephson

        I respectfully ask you all to consider the consequences imposed on our two daughters in being thrown out of the school will be felt for a long time but that happpened before we filed suit. It is why we filed suit. What is happening now in their eyes is someone is standing up for them. In our view, the additional damage done by engaging in this conflict to hold the school accountable is much less than waklking away and allowing our injuries to go un-addressed and to empower the administration to do the same things to other kids and parents.

        1. Joseph Goldstein

          to do the same things to other kids and parents.

          But they haven’t in the past and there is no indication such a fiasco will ever happen again. Your daughter and you simply had to comply with school policy PERIOD!

          1. Post
            Michael Josephson

            Joseph – you certainly have a right to your opinion and to express your disapproval of my decisions, but you don’t have a right to ignore or make up facts. Already a half a dozen families have contacted us with very similar examples of misconduct and three former faculty members have also shared stories that corroborate our concern. You have formed an opinion and no amount of new information will change it.

  26. Ken

    This entire matter is the stupidest waste of time. While I appreciate Michael Josephson’s efforts on behalf of his daughter, he has really dropped the ball on this one. With no hindsight necessary, this is what should have happened. If the daughter was emotionally distressed about facing the student disciplinary council, the fact should have been presented to the school administration with the question: What are the options, if any? Those options, if available, then should have been presented to the daughter so she, not her father, could make the choice. And, like it or not, that should have been the end of it. Instead, we have a classic case of making a mountain out of a molehill, and trying to bully a school board into making an exception to its stated policy and procedures. Creating a website to present your case? Pleeese! I had to laugh when I read his comment, “Well, she can be a sassy kid.” It seems to me she picked the wrong time to be sassy. Plus, if the information is correct, she had already been warned following an incident in October. This also supports what the school calls a documented history of disrespectful conduct toward faculty members. Mr. Josephson, you are quoted as saying, “I need a fight like I need a hole in my head.” Sadly, it appears that hole is already there.

    1. Post
      Michael Josephson

      I don’t understand why you are being so nasty. In any event, please read the full sequence of events and you will see the school, for personal reasons you apparently discount, would not consider any alternatives. Our whole appeal was for alternatives.

      But even more important, why do you only focus on the first daughter. As upset as we were with the way this was handled we would not have sued if Ms. English hadn’t gone further to exclude a second daughter under extremely traumatic circumstances, a young vulnerable girl who Ms. English agrees did nothing wrong.

      And then to ban them from attending their friends’ graduation and to banish our two older daughters who are in NY in college from attending alumni events and visiting teacher, in what world is this fair? If these facts don’t offend you and warrant accountability we simply live on different moral planets.

      1. Annie B

        1. People sling insults when their argument has no substance. Ignore the insults. Make note of the arguments with substance.

        2. I am a parent and attorney. I do not now and never have in the past had any affiliation with the school.

        3. I have been a long time fan of yours and and when I read this website (and I read it entirely) I initially felt betrayed by you. Then I thought you may have had a mental breakdown and I felt sorry for you. After more reflection, I feel you are a loving father who is trying to protect kid kids. I respect your motivation.

        4. Nevertheless, even if you win the law suit, I still feel it was not the right thing to do. The end does not justify the means. As Dr. Phil asks, “Do you want to be happy or right?”

        5. Every error or failure is a fantastic learning opportunity. I hope you and the school reflect on how each of you could have handled the situation better, so each of you will be better in the future. Unfortunately, it will be difficult to genuinely and productively reflect when you are embroiled in litigation.

  27. K

    Mr. Goldstein,

    It sounds like your anger is perhaps misplaced at Mr. Josephson. Your replies indicate that you have not fully read and digested the information you are responding too.

    Perhaps you could examine why your comment to both Michael and Brandon are so accusatory. It is truly not necessary for you to be so nasty. Your comments make me wonder if you have a personal stake in this legal action.

  28. Brandon


    Allow me the observation that you seem overly anxious about comments from certain uninformed critics; uninformed in the sense of operational and ethical best practices of high performing organizations. Ignore them as their rants are obvious for what they are to any rational observer.

    Rather than yield to arbitrary uninformed opinions of faceless critics in considering your actions/reactions, why not instead consider focusing on experts like the award winning National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST) sponsored Baldrige Performance Excellence Program. This would be a much better guide in judging the behavior of Archer and your response.

    Indeed, did Archer have a program that was aligned with winning in the marketplace every day as a high-performing, high integrity, ethical organization, as Baldrige requires? Having such Criteria help organizations respond to challenges and address complexities in delivering results while preparing effectively for the future.

    Baldrige starts by defining a “leadership system” in terms of how leadership is exercised, formally and informally, throughout an organization i.e. the basis for the way decisions are made, communicated, and carried out with high expectations for performance and performance improvement in the structures and mechanisms for decision-making; selection and development of leaders and managers; and reinforcement of values, ethical behavior, directions, and performance expectations.

    Baldrige says an effective leadership system respects the capabilities and requirements of employees and other stakeholders, and builds loyalties and teamwork based on the organization’s vision and values and the pursuit of shared goals and includes mechanisms for leaders to conduct self-examination, receive feedback, and improve.

    Baldrige requires an examination of “ethical behavior” defined as how an organization ensures that all its decisions, actions, and stakeholder interactions conform to the organization’s moral and professional principles in support all applicable laws and regulations and are the foundation for the organization’s culture and values which define “right” from “wrong.”

    Baldrige criteria require Senior leaders to act as role models for principled behavior based on principles that apply to all individuals involved in the organization, from employees to members of the board of directors. These principles need to be communicated and reinforced on a regular basis and practiced with all stakeholders, including employees, shareholders, customers, partners, suppliers, and the organization’s local community.

    Finally, while Baldrige says some organizations may view their ethical principles as boundary conditions restricting behavior, well-designed and clearly articulated ethical principles should empower people to make effective decisions with great confidence.

    Mr. Josephson, your critics have one thing in common; they want to blame the customer while ignoring the significant failures in leadership by Archer administrators and the governing board. While your wife as a member of the Board bares some responsibility in this failure, she was one person and it changes not any of the responsibility that must be shouldered by an overly zealous, officious and apparently vindictive headmistress and those who supported such malevolent behavior.

    Take a deep breath…

  29. Lee Rigby

    Sounds like the kids — especially C2 — are collateral damage in an epic power struggle. The administration doesn’t tolerate having its authority questioned, and an equally strong-willed parent wants to defend his family even if the cost is greater than the benefit. Too bad. Everybody loses.

    I have no personal or objective knowledge of the actual events; I may be totally off base. Nonetheless, my opinion is that the administration should have lead the process and used some common sense before making “final” decisions. They may be smart, but they are not wise. Parents are understandably defensive about their kids, and the school should recognize that basic human emotion. Taking it out on the kids “because you can” is petty and unprofessional. The bad blood in the past between Ms. English and Mr. Josephson found a sad ending. Ms. English comes off as inappropriate and dictatorial in her management style; I doubt that this is the first problem of this type at the school. For an otherwise very intelligent man, Mr. Josephson was surprisingly naive in his interaction with the school. At a private school they can do almost anything they want, and even the well-respected Archer school can miss the mark as they did in this case.

    I would hope Mr. Josephson has the strength to withdraw the lawsuit and that the Board has the strength to fire (or at least strongly reprimand) Ms. English. It’s time to move on before more damage is done.

  30. Abe Baily

    Amen to Brandon’s comment above. Your deep involvement in this issue will not hurt the development of your daughter and may help it toward the truly ethical person or character you so constantly seek to strengthen in all of us. You also often share your own dilemmas over many issues which encourages those of us who trust (yes trust!) you to struggle with ours and be open to contrary thinkers and traditions.
    You acted to thwart institutional behavior which you strongly believed had gone over the top against your entire family in relation to the “disrespectful behavior” charged against one member of it. Good for you! Too often official and unofficial groups and individuals in our society ACT on guilt by association and, as a life long educational administrator, educational institutions have such down to a fine, very righteous, point. Hang in there, Abe

  31. Michael Hall

    In the interest of full disclosure: I am the parent of an Archer Alumna.

    Mr. Josephson,
    Without knowing any more about what precipitated your lawsuit than I’ve read in the papers, it seems clear to me that your lawsuit is both punitive and financially based. If your daughters were unfairly treated, the moral and ethical thing for you to do would be to demand an apology from Archer. If such an apology was not willingly forthcoming, your lawsuit, if found in your favor, could demand such an apology, and reimbursement of any real costs that your family incurred in having to move your daughters to new schools. Your 10 million dollar lawsuit is not based on the ethics that you so verbally claim to hold dear. It is, as I said above, both punitive and money grubbing.

    1. Post
      Michael Josephson

      With all due respect I think it would have been more respectful and responsible if you took even 20 minutes on the website before you decided to make such a serious negative judgment on both my motives and the merits of the suit. At least read a few of the letters and responses on that website. I hope you have an open mind and that familiarizing yourself with the facts of the case would at least soften your judgment. This case is most certainly not about money as my initial settlement offer proved. Even now, if the Board would hold Ms. English accountable and reform some of the policies and practices that yielded the awful result against all four of my daughters they could make this go away.

      1. Michael Hall

        I took some time yesterday and read through much of the Josephson vs. Archer website, which I found to be very self-serving in supporting your side of this dispute. However, I agree that your main focus doesn’t seem to be about the money (but hey! 10 million dollars in the bank is not to be sneezed at!). It is very clear that your suit is punitive—it seeks to hurt, demean and discredit Ms. English, and perhaps to force her to resign as Head of Archer—which would be a terrible outcome for the school and it’s students. And would accomplish what, for you?

        What is also obvious is that the person who is most hurt by all of this rage on your part is your younger daughter (C2); you claim to be acting in order to protect your daughters and yet her well-being seems to have been completely neglected. She has done nothing wrong, has bravely come out as gay, was happy and supported at Archer and yet is the recipient of the fall-out resulting from the ‘sassy’ behavior of your elder daughter (C1). It seems to me that it is time for you to proffer an olive branch to Ms English, in order to allow C2 to return to Archer, if she so wishes. I have no doubt that her friends would welcome her back with joy. Are you capable of such a gesture, and is Ms English capable of putting this horrible scenario aside for the good of C2? It might require you to disengage yourself from the school, which would probably be a good thing for you and for the school.

        Think about it Mr Josephson; it would require a big gesture on your part. Are you capable of doing this for the good of your daughter, and of Archer School?

        “The test of character is doing the right thing, even when it costs more than you want to pay”

        1. Post
          Michael Josephson

          Dear Mr. Hall I thank you for taking the time to read many of our postings on the website. How you can not share my outrage at what Ms. English did to C2 and my older daughters whom she banned just because they have my last name is beyond me. I hope you have at least as much moral indignation about the the school’s actions and motives.

          Of course or web site is self-serving, but that doesn’t mean its unfair. It is self-serving because the truth serves us. We believe that posting ALL correspondence and ALL pleadings (including the defendants arguments and declarations) serves us well. And, of course there is a punitive element to this — that’s why we asked for punitive damages. Punishment is inflicted on wrongdoers not merely to inflict pain on them but to deter them and others from acting in illegal and improper ways. That is part of being held accountable.

          Still, you are entitled to your perspective even though it demeans our case and my character.

          You will, however, have to abandon your characterization of my daughters’ reactions and how this suit will affect them. The damage done to them is significant and permanent and that is why we filed this action when Archer rejected our efforts to settle the dispute without litigation.

          While we went through a tough period after Ms. English told C2 to blame her father, we are through that now and she totally supports this law suit and deeply resents the way she was treated. She, and her three sisters, have come to appreciate the fact that there mother and I have backed up years of teaching about accountability and the importance of standing up for oneself. Now that C2 sees the whole picture, including the way so many of her faculty friends failed to run the risk of Ms. English’s wrath by staying in communication I suspect she would not even consider going back, certainly, if Ms. English was still there.

          Fortunately, our entire family is completely and totally supportive of our efforts to expose educational practices that we think will not do well under public scrutiny. Remember, we will win this suit, let alone get a multi-million dollar punitive damages award, ONLY if after hearing and weighing all the facts given under oath, a jury believes our outrage was justified and our claims meritorious. If our case is a weak as you seem to think it is, Archer and Ms. English will be vindicated.

        2. Abe Baily

          Mr. Hall,
          From my own review of all this there has been plenty of proffering and requesting, maybe demanding, on Mr. Josephson’s part. i believe him when he says his entire family is together on this. I’m not in his shoes, nor are you despite being an Archer parent. The arrogance and intransigence seem clearly on the part of Archer and it’s employees. At this point it seems v. reasonable to me to leave the resolution to our legal system. Teasing out the precise facts and weighing consequences in light of precedence and context is their responsibility.

        3. Brandon

          “The test of character is doing the right thing, even when it costs more than you want to pay.”

          Mr. Hall, this makes for a good sermon or article, but there are those times when mere humans run up against reality and what is reasonable. Is it reasonable to yield to intimidation, or to let an attack continue? Mr. Josephson has concluded the cost of yielding to threats and sustained aggression, not just against himself but his entire family and in the end, many in that school was just too high i.e. it was apparently more than he was willing to pay. Who are you to judge? In that sense, I wonder where you would draw the red line in the sand, and if that line you establish would hold up in the face of similar harassment and violations of not only civil codes, but propriety?

          It seem, given your past association with the school, maybe you’re too close to overlook your own bias, and therefore unqualified to make rational observations.

          In the end who does the school represent? Who should the governing board looking out for? If one responds “the school” i.e. the business entity and its finances and its reputation, how’s that working out? If it’s the other students and their families, how’s that working out? If it’s the alumni, how’s that working out? Where was the sense of leadership or mutuality in the schools initial response or indeed to Josephson’s offers of compromise?

          Mutuality requires clarity of understanding and consistency of purpose. Did the actions of the head administrator or its governing board reflect this understanding or ethic?

          It’s in this sense of mutuality that professionals and business leaders should be clear on what and whom they represent. There was no mutuality, which is, in more than a rhetorical sense the basis of Josephson’s actions.

          So, what standards should be used? As a practical matter, simple common sense dictates that an organization’s business practices and professional standards of behavior must be periodically reexamined and if found wanting adjusted to meet the demands of the times. Professional ethicists all agree on this basic concept of periodic reevaluation. This might be a good time, do you think?

          Where’s the evidence school officials provided any leadership or vision in proactively diffusing a sensitive situation? I don’t see it. Without leadership or vision those in charge inevitably find themselves over their heads; and in their uncertainty, looking for direction, find themselves in the reactionary mode, exclaiming ‘there they go, I am their leader, I must catch them.”

          Maybe Jon Huntsman in ‘Winners Never Cheat’ said it best when he opined, “a leader’s integrity and an organization’s values and patterns of behavior toward either internal or external stakeholders of any enterprise, regardless of size, have enormous consequence.”

          When you are attacked and the attack continues, you fight back. This is reality.

    1. Brandon

      You’ve got to be kidding, right? What is it you think has been censored? The man has been all but virtually tarred, feathered, and run out of town in myriad comments.

  32. Else

    To my knowledge, a private school is not obligated to ask a student back. I know of a situation where a parent sued the school for damage done to her car while parked at school, and her child was not asked back for the following year. Each year is a new contract.
    If the parents are a pain in the you know what, the school may wish to be done with them.

  33. John Morris

    “…and hold accountable, people and institutions that perpetrate harm on us (in this case, my children), especially when it is malicious.”

    Michael, I think this is the key… this would only be inconsistent with your role as an ethicist if it were a baseless and frivolous lawsuit.

  34. rdesmond1


    I have been a subscriber of your information for many years, and have suggested others to your Website. Please let us know how things turn out.

    R. Desmond Fahie

    *Never lose your temper in an argument. If you are right, you don’t need to. If you are wrong, you can’t afford to.* *I do today, what others won’t. To have tomorrow, what others don’t.*

  35. sgreenblatt50

    Mandatory arbitration is a two-edged sword, and this represents the dark side of that blade.  I wish you well in your effort to repair the world, one school and one character at a time.  I hope and trust that your daughters were able to move on from this experience.

  36. pedro mendezona


    I am writing you as a father which suffered a bullying case with one daughter in Spain. We had a confrontation with the school, ultracatholic, and the conclusion was that my daughter is out of the school as if she were the offender.

    Moreover, her old friends in the previous school have isolated her and bully her when find in the street of the small viallage we live, in some way trying to avoid she makes friends in the new school – seems to me as if the bully tries to destroy the psique of the victim -.

    Thank you,
    Pedro Mendezona

  37. Carl Retter

    Archer’s cold hearted decision to deliberately inflict collateral damage on people only guilty of being graduates and members of your family displays both arrogance and vengence. Archer has shamed itself regardless of what the lawsuit outcome is.

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