By APRIL GUILMET
Union Leader Correspondent
LONDONDERRY -- Next month’s school deliberative session will run precisely the same way it has for the past decade following a decision in Rockingham County Superior Court late last week.
On Jan. 20, Judge Tina Nadeau denied a motion for a preliminary injunction filed by residents Al Baldasaro, Sean O’Keefe and Brian Farmer against the Londonderry School District and its meeting moderator, John Michels.
The three residents filed the lawsuit in early December 2010 after alleging the existing quorum required during the annual deliberative session was unconstitutional as it potentially prevented residents attending the annual meeting to influence the outcome.
Following the court ruling, the Feb. 11 deliberative session will be subject to a 500-voter quorum requirement, same as has been done in previous years.
The school district’s quorum requirement has been in place since the charter was approved at the March 2000 ballots.
Over the past few years, attendance at the deliberative session hasn’t even come close to 500. On average, attendance has been in the 200-person range.
According to court documents, Nadeau stated the three petitioners “have not provided information sufficient to warrant the grant of this extraordinary measure.”
“As for the ultimate decision regarding whether or not the quorum provisions are proper, the Court finds the issue to be a purely legal question not requiring any further evidence,” Nadeau continued. “A final order will be issued in due course.”
Contacted last night, Baldasaro said he still expected a final decision would ultimately be made in his and his fellow petitioners’ favor, even if that decision doesn’t come in time to affect this year’s deliberative session. “There is no doubt in my mind it will be decided this quorum is unconstitutional,” Baldasaro said. “Now, its just a waiting game. There’s no legislative authority for this quorum.”
This was not the first time residents have questioned the quorum. Last year, School Board members Steve Young and Ron Campo led the board’s charge to reduce the quorum from 500 to 350. The item was rejected by a significant majority vote last March.
Young said the vote was a likely indicator that most residents were satisfied with the way the school district governs, and noted that complaints about the district’s existing quorum have been few and far between.
Yesterday afternoon, Superintendent Nathan Greenberg said he was pleased to learn of the judge’s decision and looked forward to maintaining the status quo when it comes to the district’s governing.
“This will allow us to go forward with the February deliberative session, which had been voted on three separate times in the past 10 years,” Greenberg said.