It’s unfortunate that at a January 21st combined ABC/Regional School District #1 meeting Attorney Gary Brochu didn’t offer all pertinent information regarding the history of governance by Regional School District #1’s Board of Education, particularly in hiring a superintendent and supervising regionally shared services for all seven boards of education. The lack of transparency and an inaccurate account of previous legal opinions is unfortunate.
Someone asked if the State had ever weighed in regarding the District’s long-standing governance and structure. Brochu indicated that it hadn’t. However, in a 1979 memorandum between Mr. Cashman and Mr. Dopp of the State Department of Education, Cashman concluded that the Services Center and what is now known as the ABC Committee were not validly authorized or created under statutes 10-158a or 10-66a. That was presumably because the Region was organized under a special act and amendments to that act, previous to the inception of these statutes. Given the circumstances Cashman believed that the local boards of education and the Region One Board followed the spirit of the law and should qualify under section 10-158a – the very statue of which Brochu insists the District is in violation. Further, Attorney Craig Meuser in his 2006 legal analysis acknowledged, “in principle, the Series 7000 policies may be interpreted as to act as a10-158a agreement”.
Recommendations for modifications in the areas of “Board Withdrawal From the Center and the Committee,” “Joint Employment of the Superintendent” and “Supervision and Employment of Center Personnel” were made. Some recommendations were implemented, others weren’t. In his final communication, Meuser provided no recommendation to change the governance from the Board to the ABC Committee, nor did he suggest any deviation from the proportional payment of the superintendent that now exists. In fact, he recommended that the ABC Committee continue to be advisory.
Legal opinions regarding the 7000 series from 1964 through 2004 concluded that the adoption of the 7000 series by the six local boards of education and Regional Board of Education constituted an agreement by and between the local boards of education. Those opinions further concluded that the operation of the Services Center and the actions of the ABC Committee would be governed by the terms of the 7000 series policies. That this information was not clearly shared with the Board and the public is unconscionable.
There should be skepticism regarding Brochu’s advice. He’s been unsuccessful with FOI complaints. He failed to avoid two suits costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. He backed a “retirement package” for $150,000+ when the Board was not a party to an administrator’s suit and wouldn’t have been responsible for any monetary award. He was unsuccessful in a residency case in Kent. Other faulty advice has been equally as costly and problematic. Since 2010 there has been constant unrest with accompanying astronomical legal costs. His flawed advice has not been, nor does it continue to be, in the best interest of the District or in maintaining the 75 years of collegial cooperation among our towns.
Town of Canaan (Falls Village) Board of Selectmen
Patricia Allyn Mechare, First Selectman
Charles H. Lewis, Selectman
Greg D. Marlowe, Selectman