Monday, February 27, 2012

Second Taylor lawsuit decided - board violated law, superintendent search still valid

The court just decided the second Taylor RTK lawsuit.   The decision is, once again, the board violated the Right-to-Know law, this time with a secret ballot to nominate members of the superintendent screening committee, as well as more illegal meetings.  The judge further found the board violated its own policies.

In particular, the judge found the board's "coordinated action in reducing the field of applicants through what amounted to a secret vote by each member for the candidate of his or her choice, circumvented the spirit of the transparency that animates the Right-to-Know law. ... The law expressly prohibits actions outside of meetings on matters that should properly be discussed at meetings and also expressly bars secret ballots.  By acting privately to finalize the applicant pool, the Board effectively sidestepped the requirement of accountability that the Right-to-Know law is intended to promote."

The court enjoined the board from committing future violations of RSA 91-A (the RTK law).  This is the harshest penalty available, and one the judge declined to order in the first lawsuit after the board promised to never violate the law again.   They did violate the law again, so the judge got serious.   If board members continue to violate the RTK law, they are now subject to being ruled in contempt of court, and may face jail time.  The court also specifically enjoined the board from voting by secret ballot where prohibited by law and communicating by email so as to circumvent the statute's public meeting requirement.

The judge did not vacate or invalidate the superintendent search results.  This is good news in my opinion -- it means the district can go ahead and close the deal with our hopefully new superintendent, Dr. James Morse.  I wish him well in his new position.  I urge the public to give him untainted supervision by voting out the lawbreaking incumbents Jim Kach and Henry Brackett and voting in the law-abiding challengers Dr. Ed Charlé and Maria Barth on Tuesday, March 13th.

- Dean Rubine, Lee

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