LIVERMORE -- A couple won $260,000 this week in a lawsuit against Our Savior Lutheran Ministries in Livermore in February 2001 over the conduct of chaperones on her daughter’s school trip to Yosemite in February 1999.
James Oldani felt the chaperons including a teacher and the former principal at the trip were overindulged by visiting a bar making themselves intoxicated at times. Oldani then decided to write a letter of complaints to the school so that this kind of concern does not rise at the next Yosemite trip.
The church’s attorney, Gary Hall, says the school clarified a policy forbidding all drinking on student trips however the complaints made in the letter spread to other parents which ended up causing troubles as Oldani’s letter was seen as disruptive and disparaging in the eyes of the church.
School officials said Oldani’s letter circulated “"unsubstantiated opinions that could harm a teacher's professional standing in the community." They said Oldani violated the necessary trust between parents and school officials. The school also refuted the claim that a teacher was drunk on the trip.
Oldanis and his ex-wife, Kerry Cadwell-Oldani, sued the church in February 2001 after administrators asked the Oldanis' children to leave the school.
The plaintiffs' attorney, Howard Mencher, however, asserted Oldani merely was being thorough and concerned.
"The school was seeking two things," Hall said. "A letter of apology from Mr. Oldani because of the accusations ... and some kind of timeout for a series of events, which amounted to a lack of trust.
"Our position is a Christian school has the right to remove students or remove parents if they feel it's in the best interest of the school or the parents and students."
Pastor Theodore Hartman of Our Savior Lutheran Ministries elected not to comment on the matter.
In response to Oldani's letter, Our Savior Lutheran Ministries wrote its own letter, asking him to admit his possibly action of slandering the school administration. But Oldani ‘s two children never returned to the school.
The school is considering appealing the judgment.