Chariho School Parents’ Forum

January 28, 2009

More from the Sun

H/T to CP for sending me the text.

The only point I would dispute is that Gorham is not working Pro Bono. I admit a bit of fog during that conversation but I do recall saying that we expect to win this case and Chariho to pay for his legal fees.   – which would mean he is racking up fees and thus not pro bono.

Felkner seeks donations for legal expenses
By Victoria Goff

The Sun Staff


A town councilor battling to keep his seat on the Chariho Regional School Committee is seeking financial support for his legal expenses.


William J. Felk­ner, 45, has asked supporters for dona­tions toward court filing fees, which have so far totaled $450. His attorney, Nicholas Gorham, has offered to work pro bono.


Felkner asserts the school committee wrongfully ousted him in November, when it ruled that he had vacated his committee seat when he was sworn-in to the Hopkinton Town Council. He claims that he can hold both seats, and the School Committee did not have the authority to remove him.


Gorham petitioned the state Supreme Court this week, after a judge in Washington County Superior Court ruled last week that the case belonged there. The school commit­tee’s attorney, Jon M. Anderson, must file a response by today. Anderson said he plans to restate the school commit­tee’s position that the Hopkinton Town Charter bars Felkner from holding both seats, which he says could also present a conflict of interest.

The Supreme Court jus­tices are expected to review, behind closed doors, how to proceed with the case on Feb. 5. So far, Felkner said he has collected about $250. He plans to create a legal fund for the donations, which the state Board of Elections told him to report.

“I have always said that I would not ask the town council [for tax dollars] to pay for any of this [at least not what I can control — we already pay Chariho’s attor­ney],” Felkner wrote in his request for donations on his blog, Chariho Parents Forum. He said someone had previously written an entry on his blog suggesting he should start the fund. Anderson’s work on the case is covered by a $4,200­monthly fee the school dis­trict pays his firm, Edwards, Angell, Palmer and Dodge, of Providence, for district legal services.

Felkner’s attorney asked a judge in his initial filing with the Superior Court to impose a $5,000 fine against the school committee for vio­lation of the state’s Open Meetings Act. The fine is the maximum allowed for such a violation.


The Superior Court judge issued a preliminary finding that the school committee violated the state law when it did not list its discussion of Felkner’s status on its agenda in November. Resolution of the alleged violation has been suspend­ed while the Supreme Court case is pending.


Asked about his request for a $5,000 fine being levied against the public body, Felkner said he was not aware his attorney included it with the court complaint.


“Whatever it’s going to take to get them to stop doing this, then I’m all for it,” he said.


He also said, “To me, it’s just the school committee can’t do this. They say, ‘Well, this isn’t about Bill Felkner.’ Clearly this is about somebody who pushed them to be transparent and open up the contract negoti­ations and they don’t like that. … This isn’t about the two-seat issues, this is about getting rid of Bill Felkner, and they just don’t have that authority.”



  1. Lets hope he is racking up fees to this non sense and he Thanks the school committee for its stupidity under the usual (duress), I mean guidance of the veteran members that sink all our ships.

    Comment by michael — January 29, 2009 @ 7:43 pm | Reply

  2. I wonder if someone could give me some information regarding the Building Committee? I have just finished reading the minutes from the January meeting, and I see that the committee met in executive session “for the purpose of discussions related to legal advice on pending or potential litigation tactics and strategies”. Is this a common practice? (To begin a project expecting litigation or planning litigation tactics)? I did not see the name of an attorney as being present, so what is this committee planning? I may sound a bit stupid, but is this usual and customary for lay persons to plan to suffer litigation and plan the tactics themselves??

    Comment by Dorothy — January 31, 2009 @ 5:38 pm | Reply

  3. I would direct the question to my elected officials on the SC.

    Comment by RS — January 31, 2009 @ 5:43 pm | Reply

  4. Don’t ask me!

    Comment by Bill Felkner — January 31, 2009 @ 6:03 pm | Reply

  5. I would really like to ask my SC members, but since the discussion is sealed (Executive session, don’t you know) perhaps I could query somewhere else? I am quite concerned, as I am unsure if they have done something, or PLAN to do something that would cause “litigation”, especially since this is why the session was called. Seems like a VERY bad way to start! Looks like Bill Day seconded for the session, which was called for by Ms Bettinger, Bill Day proposed that the minutes be sealed. Anyone ELSE know what is cooking? (Bill Felkner, you are excused from THIS question)

    RS, my elected SC may not be able to help me. I only have Bob, George, and Mr. V to question. Mr. V is new to all this, Felkner is out (for the moment), George was not at the meeting. Bob tends to follow whichever way looks good at the moment, and might rationalize any vote. Any more suggestions?

    Comment by Dorothy — January 31, 2009 @ 7:43 pm | Reply

  6. Off topic (again) but a question regarding disturbing information in the Chariho Times regarding a police report: A 14 year old girl assaulted a polic officer who had to be called for her disruptive and threatening behavior. She stated she was going to stab the teacher in the eye, was going to punch her in the f…ing face, and then walked around the school (RYSE)yelling and disrupting vrious classrooms. The girl was eventually restrained by the police officer, and she kicked and elbowed the officer attempting to handcuff her. While on route to the police station, she continued to threaten the police officer. Does this child belong in a public school? Who rides on HER bus? Do we sacrifice the well being of all students on one bus to allow one sick child to attend the RYSE program? Should THIS child be in a locked psych facility for her safety and the safety of others?

    Comment by Dorothy — February 1, 2009 @ 4:41 pm | Reply

  7. Sadly, the bottom line is this student brings more $$$$ into the system than the one who is trying to get an education and become a productive citizen, and we all know the bottom line to education is not “for the children”, but the dollar. It is the way life is.

    Comment by RS — February 1, 2009 @ 5:02 pm | Reply

  8. I know of two instances where complaints were filed with the AG for Open Meeting violations where the Charlestown Town Council went into closed session to discuss “Potential Litigation”. The AG’s office ruled that after reviewing the particulars of each case that going into closed session for potential litigation was not a violation of the State’s Open Meeting Law. In one case, the AG’s office warned that Potential Litigation could in most instances be expected to be a violation. It was the particulars of the case in instance that determined there was no violation.

    Of course, Pending Litigation would not create a violation.

    Comment by Henry Walsh — February 8, 2009 @ 1:50 am | Reply

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