Players: Seema Kalia, angry private school mother; John Allman, headmaster of the prestigious Trinity School in Manhattan.
Opening Serve: This long-running spat began last year when, according to The Daily Beast, Kalia publicly accused an employee of the Trinity school, where her daughter is in second grade, of having fake credentials.
Return Volley: Nick Summers reports that Trinity's headmaster, John Allman warned Kalia that her daughter would be expelled if the bad-mouthing continued. "If you are unwilling to meet with us, I cannot see how the school can continue its relationship with your family," her told her via email. To further make its point, the school did not admit Kalia's younger child and, after Kalia told fellow parents that the staffer in question, as well as the school's board, were racist, the school promised that this year would be Kalia's daughters last at Trinity.
Instead of quietly letting her daughter finish out the school year, Kalia took to Twitter, Facebook and UrbanBaby.com, an information-sharing forum for urban parents, to continue her crusade against the private school, this time going after its trustees. Kalia has repeatedly posted the first and last names of 12 Trinity trustees whom she claims "are being investigated by the IRS for fraud and illegal comp. They won't step down." Now rounding out day 11 of this rant, Kalia's non-stop tweets include comments such as, "So, did you know that forcing healthy children into (fake) psychotherapy under threat is a criminal act? Of course you did. Trustees DIDN'T," and "40 school trustees (13 voting) took $2M in free tuitions for their kids from financially strapped kids, among other comp. won't disclose." She's also tried pitching her story to members of the media, such as Daily Show co-creator Lizz Winstead.
The only indication that Trinity has responded since the social-media attack began are Kalia's own tweets about a letter she apparently received from the trustees' lawyers. "Trustee's lawyers's letter (rapier sharp minds, those guys): They would like us to tell you all that Lola was not expelled on Feb. 27th." (She had announced earlier her "perfect report card daughter" had been expelled "after I identified emp. w false credentials.")
What They Say the Fight's About: For Kalia, the fight was initially about a particular staffer's supposedly phony credentials. Since her daughter's enrollment at the school was threatened, Kalia's become bent on taking down the school's trustees for alleged fraud. For its part, Trinity is concerned with curbing Kalia's attacks so as not to gain a bad reputation among the community's gossiping parents who are dying to know the scoop about their kids' elite and expensive school.
What The Fight's Really About: At The Daily Beast, Summers points out that Trinity is now "caught in a social media dilemma: respond to the allegations and legitimize them; or stay silent, and allow them to fester." As Dana Haddad, an educational consultant, explained to Summers, "Parents in general go on 'all rumor is based on truth.' So if somebody's talking this much about it, there's got to be some truth to it, and people want to listen." UrbanBaby has been the site of much discussion among NYC parents who want to know the truth and, in lieu of it, have started sharing their own theories about Trinity's transparency and Kalia's motives for the attack, as well as her mental stability.
Who's Winning Now: No one. Kalia has yet to prove the allegations she's making against the Trinity trustees are true, and Trinity has yet to prove they're not.