Baldasaro, Farmer and O’Keefe take School District to Court

Representative Al Baldasaro

The Rockingham Superior Court has scheduled a temporary hearing for January4th 2010 to hear a case filled against the Londonderry School Moderator and the Londonderry School District by a Londonderry State Representative, a former Town Councilor and a sitting Town Councilor.

The three, Representative Baldasaro, Councilor O’Keefe and former Councilor Farmer, are requesting two items, a declaratory judgment and payment for the attorneys fees to do so.

At issue the petitioners argue that they should be able to offer amendments on warrant articles as the legislative body of the Londonderry School District.  They argue that a quorum as contained in the Londonderry School Charter is not authorized under state law.

Councilors Sean O'Keefe and Brian Farmer 2010 Town Meeting

They feel the schools form of government, that was adopted in 2000, is not valid as long as it contains a quorum requirement.

The Deadlines in the Rockingham Superior Court Order

The Court ORDERS that ON OR BEFORE:
December 21, 2010: Alfred P Baldasaro; Brian K. Farmer; Sean M. O’Keefe shall have this Order of Notice and the attached Petition served upon Londonderry School District, SAU #12; John R Michels in hand or abode.

January 04, 2011: Alfred P Baldasaro; Brian K. Farmer; Sean M. O’Keefe shall file the return of service with this Court. Failure to do so may result in this action being discontinued without further notice.

February 01, 2011: Londonderry School District, SAU #12; John R Michels shall file a written appearance form with this Court. A copy of the appearance form must be sent to the party listed below and any other party who has filed an appearance in this matter.

March 03, 2011: Londonderry School District, SAU #12; John R Michels must file a plea, answer, demurrer or other response with this Court. A copy of the plea, answer, demurrer or other response must be sent to the party listed below and any other party who has filed an appearance in this matter.

Notice to Londonderry School District, SAU #12; John R Michels: If you do not comply with these requirements, you will be considered in default and the Court may issue orders that affect you without your input.

The moderator and school district have provided no details since the order was served on late Wednesday of last week but are expected to be in court on the fourth of January.

At the end of September Londonderry resident Glenn Douglas read a question in response to a op-ed published here as well as the Londonderry Times and the Derry News about the validity of the quorum.  He argued that he knew that people in the community would be making this an issue at or before the deliberative session. “If nothing is done… I think someone will stand up at the deliberative session and say this is invalid, leave the session and go to Derry District court, I know there is people that are going to do it.”

The school district addressed the issue of requesting a declaratory judgment and published it on the school website for over a month following the question.  Gordon Graham Attorney for the school district said, “A declaratory judgment is not possible since the district has no open case or opponent, they have no jurisdiction to give advisory opinions along with other items.

The district has operated under a charter form of government since 2000  The voters have voted on charter issues two additional times since then.  Just this March the School Board attempted to cut the quorum from 500 to 350, it was defeated by the voters.

Attorney Daniel Sherwood of Hooksett indicated in the suit the payment of attorneys fees should be because the petitioners brought this action to “vindicate … important constitutional rights” embodied in the New Hampshire Constitution.

In the school funding case Londonderry and the other members asked for payment in a similar manner, after the case was won.

To see the full order from the Superior Court read the rest of the story for links to PDF files.

For past stories on the quorum issue read;

Londonderry School District “in a Box” on the Present and Legal Charter Includes the letter submitted by Glenn Douglas and a link to the letter from the school attorney.

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 following four documents were those served on the moderator and the school district.

All are links to PDF files.

Rockingham Superior Court order of notice

School Charter

Minutes of the 2010 Deliberative Session

Letter to Attorney general from Baldasaro and related documents

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2 Responses

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  1. Vote -1 Vote +1Tina Fallon

    It is my understanding that the quorum requirement became an issue during the Charter Commission’s hearings. At that time, many were shocked to hear the town attorney tell the committee that they could not propose a quorum.

    I am all for the will of the voters. However, have the voters ever been presented a no quorum option? I think that is the real issue. Is any quorum legal? Numbers of 500 or 350 mean nothing if the quorum is not legal.

    The taxpayers pay the school attorney as well as the town attorney. Their opinions were completely different regarding the quorum. Is that money well spent? Let the court decide. It’s the right thing to do.

    I

  2. You can view my comments on this matter on George Herrmann’s letter at http://www.londonderrynh.net/?p=30306#comments

    Thank You!!!

    AL

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