Newport School Board to Discuss Options After Revote Order
Newport — Kathleen Peahl, attorney for the Newport School District, said yesterday she will meet with the School Board tomorrow to discuss the board’s options following Monday’s ruling by Judge Brian Tucker ordering a second vote on the school district ballot.
“Naturally, I am disappointed with the decision,” Peahl said in an email yesterday. “There are a few issues which I believe require some clarification by the court, most particularly, the question of whether or not the court is ordering that the second vote include the election of school district officers and board members.”
Peahl said she spoke with Mike Shklar, attorney for the plaintiff, Bert Spaulding Sr., and he agreed that Spaulding sought a revote on articles 3 through 10, which would not include the election of officers.
The School District had sought court approval for a revote on articles 7 and 8 because of incorrect dollar amounts in both articles. But the judge sided with Spaulding, who argued in his court filing that the district violated state law when it did not make the warrant, in which one article was amended at the February deliberative session, available to voters seven days prior to the March 12 vote. In sworn testimony last Friday, Spaulding said the amended warrant was finally made available to voters at the polling place around 1 p.m. on the day of the vote.
“I find and rule that a new second session is required in order for the public to have sufficient advance notice of the issues to be decided,” Judge Tucker concluded.
The judge ordered a revote on the entire ballot that was reviewed at the deliberative session. That includes the budget and a teachers’ contract, both of which were approved. The vote would take place May 14, the same day as the annual Town Meeting vote.
Superintendent Irwin Sussman and School Board Chairman Leo Paquin referred all questions to Peahl.
Town Manager Paul Brown said if the school district does hold the vote May 14, he is not sure at this point how the process would work or how the costs would be divided. Brown said it cost the town about $1,000 to hold the annual town meeting vote.
“I’ve not finalized how we are going to do it but I plan to give the (select)board an update at Monday’s (selectboard) meeting,” Brown said.
One possibility is separate voting booths for the town and school ballots.
The number of voters and time needed to count the ballots will be factored into the overall costs but that won’t be know until after the vote, Brown said.
Patrick O’Grady can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.