Court Hears Arguments in Activists vs School Board Case

John C. Kissinger Jr.A decision is expected likely next week from today’s emergency hearing at Cheshire superior court on liberty activists’ suit against the Keene school board for their allegedly illegal actions at this year’s deliberative session. The Keene Sentinel’s Kaitlyn Mulhere reports:

A judge has taken under advisement a request by four residents to find actions that took place at the Keene School District deliberative session were illegal.

Conan Salada, Darryl W. Perry, David Crawford and Eric LaRoche filed a petition against the school district last week, saying that the amendments voters approved at the session completely void their seven petition articles.

Whether a resident votes yes or no on the articles makes no difference as they’re worded now, they told Cheshire County Superior Court Judge John C. Kissinger Jr. at a hearing today.

But Keene School District Attorney John R. Wrigley said town meeting is the purest form of democracy, and the changes were approved by the majority of voters at the session.

“You make a motion, you have enough people there, you win,” he said.

At the deliberative session, Perry and Salada objected to the amendments, saying they changed the nature of the articles. But moderator Joseph S. Hoppock and Wrigley said the amendments were legal because they didn’t change the subject matter of the articles.

Perry cited a 2011 court case out of Rockingham County Superior Court in which the judge ruled that amendments that made the subject matter of the article a “nullity” should be considered the same as eliminating the subject matter, which is illegal.

But Wrigley said he disagrees with the judge’s ruling in that case because the statute regarding amendments at deliberative session says nothing about a nullity.

Plus, all the articles, even as amended, still provide the school board with an advisory opinion from voters, Wrigley said.

The petitioners requested an injunction and an expedited hearing, so the issue can be sorted out before school district elections on March 11.

Kissinger didn’t say when he would make a decision after the roughly 30-minute hearing.

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