I am writing to you regarding today’s article in the Toronto Star, which features details of a lawsuit against Havergal. Two minor defendants have also been unfairly included in the action. Let me begin by making clear that the allegations are untrue, and we are vigorously defending ourselves.
The litigation involves a former Havergal parent (“Mother Doe”) and her daughter (“Jane Doe”) who are being represented by Mr. Andrew Rogerson and his colleague, Ms. Angela Salvatore, from the Rogerson Law Group. You may recall that Mr. Rogerson commenced his own personal lawsuit against the school, in his own name and that of his young child, alleging bullying between 6 and 7-year-old children. Mr. Rogerson’s law firm also acts for Mr. Rogerson in that lawsuit. Media coverage was also generated in Mr. Rogerson’s personal lawsuit, including a photo with his young daughter, which he made available for the Toronto Sun.
As previously communicated, our policy is to address legal issues within the litigation process, while always protecting the identities of the children involved. However, unfortunately, Mr. Rogerson’s actions require some additional context given the unique circumstances of both cases in which he and his firm are involved.
In this new litigation, Mr. Rogerson disclosed the names of the students in the Mother/Jane Doe action contrary to a written undertaking given by the Rogerson Firm not to do so. Moreover, the Rogerson Firm provided a copy of the Statement of Claim to the Toronto Star. Our legal team brought an urgent court proceeding to protect the privacy of the children involved and, fortunately, our immediate and decisive action resulted in the Court admonishing Mr. Rogerson and Ms. Salvatore of the Rogerson Firm. The ill-motivation behind Mr. Rogerson’s conduct, and that of his law firm, was exposed, expressly, in the decision of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice released on April 12, 2020. In the Doe Claim, Justice Myers held:
This is a case about bullying and yet the manner in which the proceeding has been carried on in the few days since its inception makes it clear that the threat of publication of the names and private information of the defendants is being used by the plaintiffs as an intimidation tactic. That behaviour cannot and will not be condoned by the court.
Justice Myers also found Mr. Rogerson and/or his colleague Ms. Salvatore to have been engaged in conduct that:
- “was reprehensible”
- “was disingenuous at best”
- “was to obtain a tactical advantage in this litigation over the defendants”
- “breached a court order”
- “demonstrated flagrant disrespect for the process of the court”
- “all to further some perceived tactical advantage”
The Rogerson Firm has repeatedly disclosed the name of the minor children in public court filings in both the Mother/Jane Doe Claim and Mr. Rogerson’s personal lawsuit. This has forced Havergal to bring motions in both proceedings to protect the identities of all the minors including the Rogerson Firm’s own client. Havergal has been entirely successful on these motions.
Havergal is deeply committed to preventing and meaningfully addressing bullying. It has comprehensive policies and resources for addressing bullying, harassment, and other difficult student behaviours. Like all schools, we deal with difficult student behaviour daily, and often in circumstances where it has limited information about the behavior, such as when it occurs online or outside of the school. This is particularly the case with its middle and high school students, whose lives are increasingly lived online and beyond the sightline of their parents and the school. For many students, their friendships and social networks are complex and changeable, and these students are often reluctant to involve adults in the management of those relationships, even when they are having difficulty doing so themselves. In managing these situations, Havergal does not take a “one size fits all” approach to its students’ behaviour. Havergal has a group of highly trained professionals who work closely with the staff, students, and families on a spectrum of behavioural, developmental, mental health, and social issues. Our focus is always on ensuring the health and safety of all our students.
The allegations advanced by the Rogerson Firm in this matter are untrue. It is deeply troubling that Jane Doe, a vulnerable minor, is being represented by a lawyer and firm that have breached her privacy and that of the other minor parties, and whose conduct has been so clearly denounced by the Court. It is also of great concern that the Rogerson Firm has involved two minors as defendants without merit.
Unlike the Rogerson Firm, which continually tries to leverage the media as a means to intimidate Havergal, our staff and faculty, we will not litigate this matter in the media. I can assure you we will vigorously defend ourselves and the school community against all the legal claims in this action and present all the evidence before the Court.
Lastly, it is unfortunate to find myself interrupting your day with this update during a time when everyone is focused on ensuring the health and wellbeing of their families while dealing with a multitude of challenges resulting from the COVID-19 situation. While we are working closely with our legal team, please know that during this period our focus remains on the steadfast support for the wellbeing of our students and continuous provision of our education programs.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to me directly with your questions or comments.