February 3, 2011

Superintendent: Quorum ruling won't invalidate Feb. 11 vote

Union Leader Correspondent
LONDONDERRY -- Though a motion for preliminary injunction against the school district’s 500-member deliberative session quorum was denied in Rockingham County Superior Court late last month, a ruling in the petitioners’ favor is still a very real possibility, school officials said earlier this week.
However, even if the court rules against the decade-old quorum, that won’t invalidate any decisions made
 during the Feb. 11 deliberative session. 

During Tuesday night’s School Board meeting, Superintendent Nathan Greenberg addressed the board’s concerns over a pending quorum decision. Greenberg said that after consulting the district’s representing attorney, Gordon Graham, he’s confident that even if a decision were eventually made in the petitioners’ favor, the outcome of this year’s deliberative session would stand. 
“It is beyond my comprehension that after a court review, even if the current charter is found to be unlawful, this would be the case,” he stressed. 
Greenberg estimated that the court case has cost the district close to $17,000 so far, money he hopes will be reimbursed to the district if a decision is made in the district’s favor. 
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 current quorum required during the annual deliberative session is unconstitutional as it potentially prevents 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 current quorum requirement has been in place since the charter was approved at the March 2000 ballots. 
Baldasaro said last week he expected a final decision would ultimately be made in the petitioners’ favor. Like his fellow petitioners, Baldasaro maintains the quorum is unconstitutional since achieving a 500-member quorum at deliberative sessions hasn’t happened in many years, thus denying voters the opportunity to amend any school warrant articles. 
“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.” 
In court documents filed Jan. 20, presiding judge Tina Nadeau denied the petitioners’ preliminary injunction request, noting the latter “is an extraordinary measure and should not be granted unless there is an immediate danger of irreparable harm to the party seeking injunctive relief.” 
“The court finds that the petitioners have not provided information sufficient to warrant the grant of this extraordinary measure, as they have failed to demonstrate that irreparable harm would result but for the grant of this preliminary injunction,” Nadeau stated. “Further, the purpose of a preliminary injunction is to preserve the status quo, and enjoining the enforcement of the quorum provisions, which have existed for 10 years, would accomplish the opposite result.” 
Nadeau added that an ultimate decision on the quorum’s future is “a purely legal question not requiring any further evidence.” 
“A final order will be issued in due course,” she stated. 

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