Newport Board Won’t Appeal Judge’s Budget Revote Ruling
Newport — It appears the School Board won’t appeal this week’s court ruling ordering the school district to revote the annual school meeting, but it does want some clarification.
The board met in a non-public session with its attorney, Kathleen Peahl, for about 90 minutes yesterday afternoon to discuss Monday’s Superior Court ruling requiring a second vote. At the School Board meeting last night, Chairman Leo Paquin issued a brief statement.
Paquin said the Board will ask Judge Brian Tucker to clarify which articles he ordered to be voted on a second time.
Paquin specifically mentioned articles 4 and 5, which are one-year contracts for teachers and support staff. Both articles were approved.
In an email Tuesday, Peahl said she had spoken with Mike Shklar, attorney for the plaintiff Bert Spaulding Sr., and they were in agreement that the judge’s order for a second vote was for articles 3 through 10. Article one was the election of School Board members and school district officers and article 2 was to “hear reports of agents, auditors, and committees or officers.”
Judge Tucker’s five-page ruling came after about 75 minutes of testimony and arguments last Friday.
In his petition, Spaulding noted several ballot errors but his main argument charged that the school district had violated the law because it failed to make available the amended school district warrant at least seven days before the March 12 vote.
Spaulding told the court last week that his attempts to get a copy of the warrant, in which one article was amended at the February deliberative sessions, were unsuccessful.
The warrant, with the amendment, was finally available about 1 p.m. at the polling place on the day of the vote.
Peahl argued that the sample ballot met the test of the law.
The School District wanted to revote articles 7 and 8 because of incorrect dollar amounts but Tucker agreed with Spaulding “that the district did not provide the notice of the final ballot questions as required by law;” however the order only says a “second session is required.” It does not name specific articles.
School Board member Liz Hennig said they expect to have a clarification from Tucker in a few days.
The second vote would be held May 14, the same day as the annual town meeting vote.
Patrick O’Grady can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.