The Londonderry School Board was addressed for the first time, on the fact that some feel the Deliberative Session is not legal by Glenn Douglas at the September 28th meeting. Up to this point the school district had been challenged in comments on this and other websites as well as letters to the editor.
The Londonderry Times a weekly newspaper in Londonderry even called for the School District to “revise the school district charter and eliminate the quorum.” The Times further indicated, “The likely way would be to take the school district to court.” Based on public and self proclaimed expert opinion, the newspaper at 2 Litchfield Road would “like the matter settled officially.” these recommendations are from a September 15th editorial.
Mr. Douglas read a email sent to the Schoolboard on September 22nd into the record. He indicated the question was in response to Mr. Greenberg’s op-ed in the Londonderry Times and on LondonderryNH.net. (It was also printed in the Derry News)
“Mr. Greenberg’s point that the voters have been presented the quorum question and chose to keep it is valid. There may be a legal argument to be made that the residents should be able to have a quorum if they choose. The fact is, however, that a number of “experts” in Concord are indicating the quorum is illegal. The State has on numerous other decisions told the Town what they can and cannot do. Anyone remember Workforce Housing?
The School Board should ask the AG’s Office for an answer specific to the School District Charter. Based on the AG’s response the School Board and residents can move forward. There is no cost to asking the Attorney General.
If the School Board does nothing it seems that there is a potential for a legal challenge. One person standing up at the Deliberative could throw the School District into a tail spin. Worse yet there is no telling what decision court would make only a few short weeks before the residents vote on the budget and other articles presented at the deliberative session.
Like it or not the question is now on the table. How it got there, at this point, it doesn’t really matter. Assuming that no response from the AG is an approval is a risky prospect. Let’s answer the question and move on.”
Glenn Douglas did a nice job of asking the board it’s opinion on the issue and opened up the conversation to the public. These on-demand videos provide the questions he raised and answers to them.
The superintendent indicated that a document from the school attorney would be published on the website explaining the legal position of the school district on the quorum. That was added to the school website this afternoon (October 8th) and can be seen at this Link as a PDF file.
The question is, can the school district file a declaratory judgment action without anyone else on the other side?
The document highlights what can and can not be done.
- A declaratory judgment is not possible since the district has no open case or opponent
- The superior Court has no jurisdiction to give advisory opinions
- No Londonderry voter (it appears) has an adverse claim to support a declaratory judgment
- The court will not provide a judgment based on hypothetical facts
- If the district did go to court, the resolution would not be quick and remain uncertain with likely appeals
The council asked to provide the opinion, Diane M. Gorrow is in the same firm as the School Attorney Gorden Graham.
In the meeting John Robinson questioned, “Why would we ask the AG for an opinion? He can not issue an order on his own, even if he came out and said it was illegal the school board can not take action on his opinion.” This related to Representative Baldasaro’s recommendations to get his opinion.
Chairman Ron Campo made it clear, “There are very little options available to us, we can not unilaterally change the charter, we can not ask the court for a judgment on it. We are in a box ourselves for what we can do on it.” The options to put it on the ballot, have it put on the ballot by voters also have issues that may not resolve the problem.
The district continues to review the issue and considers the Londonderry School District Charter legal. Options as few as they are will continue to be evaluated and announced in the future.
For more stories on the quorum issue including many comments read;
Quorum Provision in the Present School District Charter A op-ed by Superintendent Greenberg
Representative Baldasaro Slams School Charter, AG does Not Address A review of Representative Al Baldasaro’s letter to the AG and the response.
The Attorney General’s office has been presented the charter several times in the past. Including Attorney General Delaney before the vote this last March where the district asked the voters for a change. The voters turned down the reduction in the quorum from 500 to 250 at the voting booth.