About 30 people attended Thursday’s Croydon School Board Meeting to hear about options after a ruling forbidding Croydon from sending students to private schools. The school board gave a quick overview of various they could take after receiving the permanent injunction last Friday.
One option was to ask Judge Brian Tucker for a clarification on his ruling since some of the rulings were based on Croydon belonging to SAU #43, but now is SAU #99.
Another option was to take the case to NH Supreme court and ask for a stay until the case is heard. Chairman Jody Underwood said they haven’t met with their attorney yet but estimates the costs would be about $20,000. The district plans to raise the funds through crowd funding as they did for this court case.
Executive councilor and candidate for Governor Chris Sununu told the school board that they have many people on their side.
Sununu encouraged the school district to keep fighting.
School board member Jim Peschke said he wants to explore the costs the fighting the case against the odds of winning before making a decision.
Croydon School District received a small victory on Wednesday regarding their policy on school choice. The NH House approved 208-143, HB 1637, which would allow Croydon and other districts without a school containing a grade for which a student is in, to attend non-religious private schools. The bill clarifies existing law. The bipartisan bill now goes to the senate for approval.
The district has been in a battle with the NH Department of Education over sending five students to the private Newport Montessori School.
The District won a temporary injunction in November when the NH Department of Education asked for the students to be removed from the private school immediately.
Croydon School District is waiting for a decision from Sullivan County’s Superior on whether they will be able to send their students to non-religious public schools next fall.
See related stories here
Erin McIntyre Attorney for the State and Virginia Barry BOE Commissioner listen to testimony
Croydon residents and school choice proponents filled Sullivan County Superior Court yesterday afternoon for NH Board of Education vs. Croydon School District. The State Board of Education was seeking a permanent injunction to stop Croydon School District from sending students to private schools.
The state argued that private schools may not be meeting adequacy requirements and that the law prevents using public funds for private schools.
Three parents who have or had students attending private schools testified saying they weren’t sure their students received an adequate education while attending Newport Schools since Newport were deemed a District in need of improvement for several years.
Croydon School District’s Attorney Sean List and Chuck Douglas argued that the law says “not limited to” when referring to public schools allows for students to be assigned to private schools.
Jim Peschke a member of the Croydon School Board and former Chair when Croydon started choice said he thought the hearing went well.
Attorney Sean List said he has how now idea which way Judge Brian Tucker is leaning.
Judge Brian Tucker will notify Croydon School District and the State Board of Education of his decision by mail.
It’s a red-letter day for the Croydon School District who returns to Superior Court to argue the merits of sending students to private schools. The NH Board of Education failed to get a preliminary injunction against the district to stop sending their students to the Montessori school in Newport. The hearing starts at 1:00 pm in Sullivan County Superior Court in Newport.
A vote on house bill 1637 is expected to be voted on by the house today. The bill was penned by local legislators and would allow a school district to assign a child to another public school in another school district or to an approved, non-religious private school if there is no public school for the child’s grade in the child’s resident district.
Croydon has no town ordinances. That may change through, if Croydon voters adopt a “Large Crowd” ordinance at its March Town Meeting. A public hearing on the proposed ordinance is being held Monday at 6:00 pm in the Croydon Town Hall. Croydon’s Police Chief Richard Lee requested the ordinance, after a repeated noise incident last summer at a Page Hill Farm Music Festival. Chief Lee arrested the event promoter, who eventually plead no contest to a misdemeanor of disturbing the peace and fined $1,000.00.
The ordinance calls for a commercial event of over 100 people to obtain a permit from the Selectman and for the event holders to pay police coverage to be determined by the Police Chief according to NH RSA 105:9. Lee said officers would be hire at $65.00 an hour with pay going directly to the officers.
Brian and Meredith Page owners of Page Hill Farm said in a flyer that the reason behind the ordinance is to eliminate their ability to share their wonderful place that they have enjoyed for four years.
Chief Lee said the residents of Croydon should come to hearing to the hear facts. .
After the arrest of the promoter, accusations were made against Lee, which the Selectboard and Lee turned over to the County Attorney and it remains under investigation. The complete ordinance follows. Continue reading
On Tuesday, the NH Department of Education approved the withdrawal plans for the Newport and Croydon school districts withdrawal from SAU#43. Each school district will present warrant articles for the withdrawal at their Annual School District Meeting. Newport will vote on Tuesday, March 8, and Croydon will vote on Saturday March 12. A 3/5 vote is require for the article to pass in each district.
New London Hospital will now be the ambulance service for Croydon. Selectman Steve Cunningham said the vote to switch to New London was unanimous.
Cunningham said New London would keep one ambulance at the Sunapee Safety Services building since it will be serving all of Sunapee and Croydon. Although the ambulance may take longer to get some parts of Croydon, it will be shorter for Croydon residents on the Sunapee side of town.
In addition, New London has four ambulances to Newport’s two.
Another issue was the 216 percent rise in costs for the upcoming year for Newport ambulance service. Croydon contract jumped from $13,748 to $43,454. Cunningham said New London offered better service for a lower cost.
The new contract goes in affect on January 1. See related story here
The Croydon SAU #43 withdrawal committee held a public hearing last night on a revision of their withdrawal plan. Changes made to the original plan were mostly clerical to meet the NH Board of Education (BOE) standards. SAU #43 Superintendent Cindy Gallagher plans to submit Croydon’s plan to the BOE on Wednesday.
Gallagher said that if there are no revisions to the plan it will go forward at Croydon’s Annual School District Meeting.
The BOE has up to 60 days to review Croydon’s plan but Superintendent Gallagher says they are aware that the district wants to get it on the warrant and expects a decision sooner.
In order for the district to withdrawal SAU#43 it requires a 3/5 vote at the March District Meeting.
No decision was given on Monday on an injunction to stop Croydon School District from tuitioning students to Newport Montessori School. Strafford Superior Court Judge Brian Tucker said he will issue his decision on tje temporary injunction by mail. The State argued that the NH Board of Education (BOE) would suffer irreparable damage if the temporary injunction was not issued since the students or parents could sue the state for not getting an adequate education. Judge Tucker questioned why the Board of Education did not ask for an injunction in June instead of after school started. Assistant District Attorney, Ann Edwards stated that BOE Commissioner Virginia Barry did not know that Croydon would continue sending students to the private school in the fall. Croydon’s Attorney Chuck Douglas argued that the Commissioner did know and presented a letter to the court.
Ian Underwood of Croydon was one of the over 25 supporters that attended the hearing and gave his take on the hearing.
There will be another hearing on the merits of the case, but no date has been set.
See related story here
What is a town do when its fire department doesn’t respond to calls? Croydon Selectmen are asking just that and seeking a solution to Croydon’s fire and EMS problems. According to records kept by Newport of the 11 calls they answered in Croydon in 2014, no one from Croydon showed up to five of them. According to Select Board member Todd Fratzel, this does not fit the RSAs for mutual aid
Croydon’s Fire Department was incorporated in the late 1970’s as a private fire department with a 504 c nonprofit status. Because it is a 504 c and not a 501 c nonprofit, it cannot pay its firefighters or it’s Chief. With volunteer firefighters numbers dwindling across the state it presents a problem with staffing. Croydon Fire Department has answered no calls between the hours of 6 am and 6 pm in 2014. Newport is looking into charging Croydon for calls where no one is one scene from the Croydon Fire Department.
Croydon Selectman Steve Cunningham said the town has no authority over the Fire Department as far as staffing but the board is looking at what options they do have.
The Croydon Select Board plans to meet with the Croydon Volunteer Fire Department in a non-public meeting in the near future and hopefully resolve the issue.