January 30th, 2010 | City, News

Settlement fails in school-gate scuffle case

Anne Higonnet GRD ’88, who was charged with disorderly conduct on Jan. 15 after a dispute outside the back gate of an East Rock middle school, appeared in court Friday but did not reach a settlement.

Higonnet, wife of famous Yale economics professor John Geanakoplos ’75 , allegedly yelled at and grabbed the coat of a Worthington Hooker Middle School parent, Stephanie Brooks, who had dropped off her child on Everit Street, despite school policy directing parents to use the front entrance on Whitney Avenue. After a years-long court battle with a group of concerned Everit Street residents, the Hooker School moved to 691 Whitney Ave. in December of last year and, to assuage fears of increased noise and traffic, agreed to allow only pedestrian access to the Everit Street gate.

Higonnet, who lives a half-block away from the new school and teaches art history at Barnard College, appeared at New Haven Superior Court on Elm Street Friday and met with Brooks and a court-appointed mediator, the New Haven Independent reported Friday. After closed-door meetings failed to produce a settlement, the case was scheduled to be heard Feb. 26.

  • Mrs. Calabash

    Oops. Now Ms. Higgonet is famous too.

    This article, perhaps unintentionally, and I guess Alon and the editors can’t help themselves, reeks of the eltist, noblesse oblige of which many of us townies have become afficionados.

    Perhaps if you stopped gazing at your Yalie navels and got out and did a bit of actual reporting, you might have produced facts or, at least, a more considered tone.

    There is no policy about dropping off children on Everit Street, only a recommendation. Hooker has no authority to allow only pedestrian access on Everit. As they say in the UK: “Every man has the right to walk [or drive] the King’s highway.”

    “Assuage fears”? You mean assuage the racism and elitism of some of the Everit residents. I find it interesting that on another Daily News thread about the incident one of the posters talked about how her best friend is African American. I’ll bet some of her best friends are Jewish too.

    It was not a “scuffle.” It was an (alleged) assault.

    “Half a block.” Not having much of a life, I measured this on my cars speedometer, as I was using Everit as a convenient short-cut to Whitney. (May the numbers of cars on that street increase!) It’s about a third of a mile from the perp’s house to the gate. Everit is a long block, and it is impossible to see or hear anything at the school from a house close to Cold Spring.

    “Fears of increased noise and traffic,” for readers who are not native speakers of East Rockese translates to fears of people of color.

    And to the world-renowned, famous economist, my financial advice for the day: “Tax Yale!”

  • townie

    The alleged victin and her lawyer have identified race as a motive in their aggressive stance on these charges.

    I find that extremely suspect.

    It definitely creates worry that the allegations may not be entirely true.

    They are certainly strange allegations, and the Independent’s detailed coverage of the alleged victim’s preparedness for Ms. Higonnet’s first hearing most definitely was savvy and slick.

    One thing is for sure, if Ms. Higonnet did not open the car door and did not grab Ms. Brooks, as alleged, the officer would have arrested both or neither of them.

    People who are savvy about how the police work a charge like this know that, they know they need something more.

    I don’t know what happened. I do know that no one has written about Ms. Higonnet’s side of the story and her lawyer’s statement to the NH Independent was weak and frankly useless.

    I don’t know if NHI chose that quote over several stronger ones or if that was all her lawyer had to say.

    Maybe Ms. Higonnet is wierd enough to grab someone then apologize and offer to shake hands as the police report said, but usually you don’t offer an apology and your hand except after an argument.

    I wonder if they argued only, and the alleged victim made up the rest. There is no doubt she is savvy enough to do that. Almiost no victims are lawyered up like she is, submitting papers as a victim before the first hearing. It is breathtaking what is happening and how fast it is happening too.

    Her lawyer harped on race in her letter to prosecutors.

    Frankly, my stomach is turning. IF there is not a liar at the bottom of this case, I will eat my shoes.

  • this is bad news

    Polan has absolutely no business providing that letter to the media. (see the New Haven Independent story). That she did so demonstrates that both she and her client are engaged in smearing Higonnet and nothing more.

    The very fact that Brooks hired Polan tells you a lot about the motives here. Polan never tries to cooperate in a reasonable conversation that leads to reasonable settlements. Her style is all scorched-earth, insults, and threats.

  • super

    Now Ms. Higonett is in line for a criminal record. Super! That means the New Haven PD now has just a few more citizens to cross of its list and we’ll all have made the pointless and costly trip down to the courthouse. Way to go, coppers!

  • Clueless in New Haven

    Another ridiculously clueless “report” about the latest Everit Street shenanigans. Talk about circling the wagons, YDN! Mrs. Calabash nailed it: this case is about race, class, privilege and the unebearable ways of the Yale elite. This newspaper covers none of it. “Townie” (nice try – Yalies can be sniffed from miles away) wake up and smell the coffee – and while you are at it, try putting some peanut butter on those shoes you plan to eat- they will probably taste better that way. You weren’t there, you don’t know what happened other than the existing reports and reading those carefully should set your revisionist history straight. Telling us what you believe happened is boring, irrelavant and uninteresting.

    Please YDN, assign someone with credibility or at least street cred to this story — or drop it altogether.

  • Old Punk

    Of course Brooks is engaged in smearing Higonnet. If I were Brooks, I would do the same. I would want to make sure that the residents of Everit know that if they screw with the parents or their kids near the school grounds, the price will be severe. Higonnet was firing a warning shot, when you do that, you have to accept the possibility that the other party will fire a cannon back.


    I take Everit Street everyday now in protest. Go to my website DRIVEEVERITSTREET.COM and tell your friends to use Everit Street as often as possible. It is a PUBLIC STREET.