Chariho School Parents’ Forum

November 27, 2009

Four Chariho members accused of collusion

Filed under: Chariho,contract negotiations — Editor @ 6:18 pm

From the Westerly Sun:

 

WOOD RIVER JCT. — A Chariho Regional School Committee member has accused four of his counterparts of violating the state’s Open Meetings Act and conspiring against the district’s solicitor.

The charges, aired publicly Tuesday, center on the school committee’s Aug. 18 executive session meeting, when two attempts were made to hire outside lawyers to represent the district in teacher contract negotiations, following the departure of attorney Sheryl Hanley. While the committee ratified a new, three-year work agreement with the local teachers’ union on Oct. 29, tensions between school board members have run high for months.

William Day, who represents the town of Richmond, charged four others on the committee – Deborah Carney of Charlestown, and George Abbott, Georgia Ure and Richard Vecchio of Hopkinton – of “blatantly” violating the state’s Open Meetings Act by supporting votes that were not on the agenda. The foursome trampled his rights as he sat outside the closed-door session with Committeeman Andrew Polouski of Charlestown, he said.

Both Day and Polouski, along with Committeewoman Terri Serra of Richmond, have spouses or relatives who are employed by the district, and recused themselves from taking part in the negotiation process.

“I had every right to be in there, [and] Mr. Polouski had every right to be in there,” said Day, a staunch Chariho supporter who, at times, has clashed with representatives from Hopkinton. “This district is being accused by certain individuals as being shady, but what the four of you people did was the most disrespectful thing to the citizens of Richmond and Hopkinton, and to me, Mr. Polouski and Terri Serra.”

“I don’t trust you anymore,” he added angrily. “You went behind my back, you went behind Andy’s back and turned around and made motions to hire another lawyer, which was not on the agenda, and which was going to cost the taxpayers of the Chariho district considerably a lot more money than we were paying out.”

Day alleged later that Carney, Abott, Ure and Vecchio hold a “grudge” against District Solicitor Jon Anderson, who penned a legal opinion last fall that led to the ouster of former Hopkinton Committeeman William Felkner – and eventually filled Hanley’s role in the negotiations. He also expressed concern that, with only six or seven committee members present at future closed-door sessions, the four could approve “something that is going to be derogatory to the best interest of this district and the taxpayers.”

“Please don’t do it again,” Day said. “I’m imploring you, don’t do it again. The four of you vote as a bloc. If I believed in conspiracies, my conspiracy theory would be that you sit around and have telephone calls and decide how you’re going to vote.”

Carney, a former Town Council president and a one-time proponent of Charlestown’s withdrawal from Chariho, fired back. (With Hanley’s departure, she said the committee no longer had legal representation in the contract negotiations; the votes were appropriate under an agenda item titled “Teacher Contract Negotiation Update,” she added following Tuesday’s meeting.)

“I take great insult to this innuendo about a voting bloc because the same could be said about others around the table, but I won’t even go there,” Carney said, clearly agitated. “I’m sick and tired of this approach. Enough is enough. You want to file a complaint? File a complaint. But I’m not going to sit here and be attacked and be insulted because, quite frankly, I’ve had it.”

Vecchio agreed, calling the Richmond representative’s charge a “frivolous claim” that would waste district resources.

“You weren’t part of the negotiations, neither was Ms. Serra [or] Mr. Polouski,” he told Day. “You had no say in the matter of bringing in an attorney to negotiate for us…You’re bellyaching about something you had nothing to do with, as far as I’m concerned.”

Chairwoman Holly Eaves of Charlestown said the closed-door session involved mixed conversation on teacher contract negotiations and legal representation, but acknowledged that the whole committee should have been involved in the votes that took place.

“I will admit it was a very difficult and a very gray area, and as chair I was in a very difficult position,” she said. “I would take responsibility as chair of that meeting if an Open Meetings Act violation has occurred.”

“What’s done is done, we are who we are,” Eaves added.

While he has spoken with the Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office and a personal attorney about lodging a formal complaint, Day said he doesn’t want to file a grievance that could end up tarnishing the record of the school committee – and his own legacy. He has until Feb. 14, 2010, to file an Open Meetings Act complaint with the AG’s office against the 11-member board.

ckeegan@thewesterlysun.com

[editor’s note] Day thinks he has a legacy?

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November 23, 2009

plz email

Filed under: 1 — Editor @ 12:06 pm

Retired BMA or “Texas”, please email me. thx

On a related note (isn’t  everything related to education?) the School Choice Workshop has been rescheduled to Jan 25 at the Hopkinton Town Hall.