SUSAN E. HARRIS, Plaintiff and Respondent,
CHRISTOPHER STAMPOLIS, Defendant and Appellant.
Court of Santa Clara County, No. 1-14-CH005881 Hon. Thomas E.
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
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Whitlock for Plaintiff and Respondent.
E. Margain for Defendant and Appellant.
Susan E. Harris is the principal at Peterson Middle School
(Peterson), which is part of the Santa Clara Unified School
District. Appellant Christopher Stampolis, a board member of
the school district, has a son who attends Peterson. In
October 2014, Harris obtained a civil harassment restraining
order (Code Civ. Proc., § 527.6) against Stampolis
after he became aggressive toward her when she confronted him
about how he was regularly late to pick up his son after
school. Stampolis appeals the restraining order, arguing that
it is not supported by sufficient evidence. For the reasons
set forth below, we affirm.
The Section 527.6 Petition
is the principal at Peterson, which is part of the Santa
Clara Unified School District. Stampolis is a board member of
the school district and has a son who attends Peterson.
September 24, 2014, Harris filed a petition under section
527.6 seeking a restraining order against Stampolis. Harris
alleged that Stampolis had become belligerent and aggressive
toward her after she attempted to speak to him about a school
policy that required that all students be picked up no later
than 20 minutes after school ended. In violation of this
school policy, Stampolis had been regularly late to pick up
his son. Harris supported her restraining order petition by
attaching documents that detailed the interactions she had
with Stampolis that made her fear for her safety.
The Contested Hearing
court held a contested hearing on the restraining order on
October 14, 2014. During the hearing, multiple witnesses,
including Harris and Stampolis, testified.
testified that she had a tense history with Stampolis.
Previously, one of the teachers who taught Stampolis’s
son had complained to her about Stampolis’s behavior.
Responding to the teacher’s complaint, Harris had
e-mailed Stampolis, informing him that the teacher had felt
harassed by him. Stampolis became upset, interpreting
Harris’s e-mail to mean that she was going to lodge a
legal claim of harassment against him. Harris explained to
Stampolis that she used the term “harassment” in
her e-mail to describe how the teacher had said she felt
after interacting with Stampolis. Despite this clarification,
the matter was escalated to the district level and Harris was
told that Stampolis had requested that she formally apologize
to him. Harris said that she did not formally apologize to
Stampolis and was unaware if the district had apologized to
him on her behalf.
Rose, the superintendent of the Santa Clara Unified School
District, confirmed that Harris and Stampolis previously had
a contentious e-mail exchange. Rose acknowledged that he sent
Stampolis a letter apologizing on behalf of the district for
Harris’s use of the term “harassment” in
acknowledged that he had previously exchanged e-mails with
Harris. However, he believed the situation had been resolved
after he received the apology letter from Rose.
The August 27, 2014 Incident
had been regularly late to pick up his son after school when
the school year started. This was in violation of a school
policy that required that all students be picked up at least
20 minutes after school ended.
August 27, 2014, Stampolis came to Peterson to pick up his
son. Seeing Stampolis enter the campus, Harris went to speak
to him about the school policy. Before she approached
Stampolis, Harris asked Andy Masur, the school’s vice
principal, to accompany her. Stampolis was initially
dismissive and preoccupied with his cell phone when Harris
spoke to him. Later, he became aggressive and angry.
Stampolis raised his voice and began yelling at
Harris. He also put his fingers in Harris’s face and
clasped his hands together in the shape of a gun, pointing
his fingers toward her. Harris described Stampolis as
standing right in front of her, so close that she could feel
his breath on her face. Stampolis walked away from Harris and
toward her several times. Harris raised her hands at one
point because she thought that Stampolis was going to hit
her. Stampolis told Harris that she was harassing him and
that she needed to put any of her requests down in writing.
called the district office after Stampolis left. She
documented the incident and filed a disruption report. Harris
also called a police officer, Officer Fekete, to view a
surveillance video that had captured the incident. After
watching the video, Fekete told Harris that “this guy
[Stampolis] is not safe.”
Stampolis filed a harassment claim against Harris, which was
later independently investigated and dismissed.
confirmed that he was with Harris when she spoke to Stampolis
on August 27, 2014. Initially, Harris spoke to Stampolis in a
calm manner. However, Stampolis became angry and agitated. He
raised his voice and made hand gestures, pointing his fingers
and raising his fists. Masur was afraid that Stampolis would
become physical with Harris.
Officer Fekete’s Testimony
Fekete confirmed that he watched the surveillance video of
the August 27, 2014 incident upon Harris’s request.
Fekete observed that Stampolis appeared to be making gestures
in the video, and was upset and aggressive. Based on the
footage, he believed that Harris legitimately feared for her
acknowledged that he spoke with Harris and Masur that day.
Stampolis explained that he had previously spoken to the
school librarian, and she had told him that it was perfectly
fine for his son to stay after school and study at the
library. That day, he was walking to the school library to
pick up his son.
accompanied by Masur, approached him as he walked onto the
campus. Harris told him that she wanted to speak to him about
his son’s safety. Stampolis thought that the subject of
the conversation sounded
serious; therefore, he believed that Harris should put
whatever she was going to say to him down in writing.
Stampolis began walking away from Harris, but Harris called
out to him several times so he engaged with her several
times. Stampolis denied making hand gestures toward Harris
that resembled pointing a gun. According to Stampolis, he
only gestured toward Harris in a manner that was meant to
indicate that Harris should put everything down in writing.
surveillance video of the incident was introduced into
evidence. Due to the angle of the camera, the video was
unable to capture everything that transpired. Only Stampolis
is shown; Harris and Masur are off-screen. Stampolis is seen
pacing back and forth, gesturing with his hands several
times. On video, it appears that Stampolis clasped his hands
together, with one hand almost in a fist and the other hand
outstretched with his fingers pointing.
The August 28, 2014 Incident
August 28, 2014, Harris showed Officer Fekete video footage
of the incident from the previous day. Fekete had just
finished reviewing the video when Stampolis came to the
school to pick up his son. Fekete went outside to speak to
Stampolis about the school policy regarding student pickups.
At first, Stampolis listened to Fekete. Shortly after,
Stampolis told Fekete that he was not going to listen anymore
and entered the school office. Harris followed Stampolis and
Fekete into the school office, where they continued their
discussion. Eventually, Harris told Stampolis that she was
not going to give him a visitor’s pass to enter the
campus. During their exchange, Stampolis referred to Harris
by her first name. Harris requested that Stampolis refer to
her as “Mrs. Harris, ” because they were in a
professional setting. Stampolis refused and at one point
Harris thought that Stampolis was going to physically come
after her. Harris feared for her safety.
Officer Fekete’s Testimony
Fekete confirmed that he met Stampolis outside of the school.
He spoke to Stampolis about the school policy regarding
student pickups, but he did not believe that Stampolis
respected his authority as a police officer. Fekete
accompanied Stampolis to the school office, where Harris was
inside. Fekete observed that Stampolis was constantly looking
at Harris during their conversation. He made several