District places Burbank High School show choir director on leave

A high school show choir director is on paid administrative leave following a complaint filed by a man who had obtained some of his text messages during a copyright lawsuit, the Burbank Unified School District confirmed this week.

Brett Carroll, who directs the Burbank High School Vocal Music Assn., was placed on leave earlier this month, Burbank Unified spokeswoman Kimberly Clark said.

Citing personnel matters, Clark could not provide specifics about why Carroll was placed on leave or the exact date.

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However, the president of a music-licensing firm filed a Jan. 5 complaint with Burbank Unified against Carroll. The complaint asked school officials to review text messages Carroll exchanged with a music arranger he worked with in past Burbank High show choir productions.

Mark Greenburg, president of the Arizona-based Tresóna Multimedia, asserted in his complaint to BUSD that the messages Carroll exchanged with arranger Josh Greene "disqualify [Carroll] from teaching high school students."

Greenburg filed his complaint, which was reviewed by the Leader, after a U.S. District Court in Arizona ruled against his music-licensing firm late last month as part of a lawsuit Greenburg filed against Carroll and other parties in June.

The lawsuit accused Carroll of copyright infringement, but the court ruled that Tresóna lacked standing for three of four songs at the center of the lawsuit because those songs had multiple songwriters who collectively owned the copyright, which was not 100% exclusive to Tresóna.

A decision on the fourth song — "Magic," originally performed by Olivia Newton-John — is expected to be deliberated in court next month, Greenburg said.

The court also ruled last month that Carroll, as a public employee, was immune from the lawsuit and that his actions were reasonable.

The private text messages involved in Greenburg's complaint against Carroll were acquired through Carroll's attorney as legal discovery in the copyright case, Greenburg said.

Greenburg found the language in which the two men discussed performers' appearances when assessing their appropriateness for certain roles as one example of what he deemed a series of inappropriate communications.

Separate from the lawsuit, Greenburg said he felt compelled to alert school officials about the texts.

"I submitted Mr. Carroll's text messages to the district because when I read them, I was shocked, and I thought the authorities needed to know what was going on," Greenburg said in an email. "The copyright issues in this case are important, and they'll be worked out by the courts in due course.

"But the complaint I filed is about protecting students, which is so much more important. Anyone reviewing his texts will realize that his stewardship of the program represents a danger to the students."

In addition to filing a complaint against Carroll with Burbank Unified, Greenburg also filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights.

Carroll did not respond to a request for comment.

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Kelly Corrigan, kelly.corrigan@latimes.com

Twitter: @kellymcorrigan

Copyright © 2017, Burbank Leader

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