In the upside down world of unlimited taxpayer dollars for legal battles that is Timberlane and SAU 55, there is a new development. Yesterday, SAU 55’s attorney announced to the New Hampshire Department of Justice that SAU 55 intends to pursue the New Hampshire Board of Education to the state Supreme Court.
The state board of education ruled in my favor on Jan. 11, 2018. Superintendent Metzler, without a vote of the SAU 55 board, immediately ordered your tax dollars to be spent to fight the Board of Education’s decision. How could a Board of Education decision be so injurious to Timberlane students that the superintendent would demand an expensive court battle, you might wonder? Is Superintendent Metzler striding in to protect our children?
The Board of Education simply ordered SAU 55’s board to give me a public hearing on my complaint that they are breaking the law by not setting SAU employee salaries and are instead allowing the superintendent to set those salaries. I am entitled to this public hearing by state administrative rules which have the force of law.
Rather than have the SAU 55 board hold a simple hearing where I get to put forward my complaint and they get to snigger up their sleeves and ignore it as they do all complaints, the leader of our school district and SAU 55 would rather battle in the highest court in the state.
- Is he protecting children? No.
- Is he protecting your tax dollars? No.
- Is he protecting a principle? No.
- Is he protecting his own unfettered power? Bingo.
Below is the email to the Department of Justice from SAU 55’s lawyer. If you have the innocent notion that your tax dollars should be paying for children’s education rather than an attorney’s new car, you should call your elected representatives. The Hampstead board couldn’t be more delighted with this waste for which they pay a mere 23% and the Timberlane board is only just warming to the issue.
At the Jan. 25th school board meeting following the supplemental public hearing on the school district budget, TRSB voted to request a special meeting of the SAU board on this issue. The deadline they set was March 9. The legal battle will be well underway by then and thousands of your dollars would have already been spent. Furthermore, Dr. Metzler assured the Timberlane board that the Hampstead board would not participate in a special meeting on this issue. Now, how would the superintendent know such a thing?
|from:||James A. O’Shaughnessy <JOShaughnessy@dwmlaw.com>|
|cc:||Donna Green <email@example.com>,
“Metzler, Earl” <Earl.Metzler@sau55.net>
|date:||Mon, Jan 29, 2018 at 3:39 PM|
|subject:||Green v. SAU 55, Case No. SB-FY-18-10-007|
Dear Attorney Perlow:
I represent SAU 55 in the above referenced matter. As you are hopefully aware, at its January 11th meeting earlier this month, the State Board voted 3-1 (1 abstention) to disregard hearing officer Attorney Peter Foley’s recommended holding that the State Board lacked subject matter jurisdiction to consider a complaint regarding the application of RSA 194-C to the hiring decision of an SAU Board. Unfortunately, the State Board did not have the benefit of your presence during this meeting, and perhaps the lack of this legal guidance contributed its unprecedented and troubling decision. In fact, the only vote against the decision to disregard the hearing officer’s recommendation – a pure question of law – was made by the sole attorney member of the State Board.
In addition to this poor decision, the State Board elected to go into non-public session to deliberate over a hearing that was held in public, where the petitioner (Ms. Green) expressly waived her privacy and requested that the deliberations be held in public. During the meeting, I joined her request and opined that the State Board was required to hold its deliberations in public unless one of the reasons for nonpublic session specified in RSA 91-A:3, II applied. It is well established law in this state that a public body cannot meet in nonpublic session simply for the purpose of deliberation. Ed 212.02 (h) does not trump state law. Further, while I understand the State Board’s confusion given the problematic language in Ed 212.02 (h), the State Board always deliberated in public prior to this 2018 fiscal year. This change in policy is concerning as is the decision to ignore multiple legal precedent.
Finally, Ed 212.03 requires that “all interested parties shall be notified of the board’s final decision in writing and shall be provided with a copy of the decision by certified mail within 10 days after the date such decision is made.” The final date for the State Board’s written decision was January 21st. Even if we don’t count weekend and holidays (Ed 201.04 does count such days if the period is greater than 7 days), the decision should have been sent to the parties this past Friday. My client is anxious to move forward with the filing of post-decision motions as it prepares to appeal this decision to the NH Supreme Court. Please advise if a decision is forthcoming or if I missed a pleading.
We hope that the State Board will seek your legal counsel with respect to the above matters.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you should have any questions.
|James A. O’Shaughnessy|