Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Strike two!

From: Larry Kelley
To: Gerykm ; hoodr ; westmorelandD ; mazurk ; BurgessS ; avbrewer
Sent: Wed, Nov 23, 2011 4:53 pm
Subject: Open Meeting Law complaint (using AG's form)

According to the somewhat newly revised Open Meeting Law I am supposed to file my complaint with the Regional School Committee and the Town Clerk over the incident last night where the Regional School Committee went into executive session without clearly stating the reason for doing so and without a proper second to the motion.

Please excuse the somewhat weird formatting as I downloaded the PDF complaint form from the AG website.

Larry Kelley



Organization or Media Affiliation (if any):

Are you filing the complaint in your capacity as an individual, representative of an organization, or media? Media

(For statistical purposes only) Individual Organization Media x

Public Body that is the subject of this complaint: Amherst Regional School Committee

City/Town Amherst County Hampshire Regional/District State Mass

Name of Public Body (including city/ town, county or region, if applicable):Amherst Regional School Committee, 170 Chestnut Street, Amherst, Ma

Specific person(s), if any, you allege committed the violation: Rick Hood, Chair of the Regional Committee and Irv Rhodes Chair Amherst School Committee
Date of alleged violation:11/22/11

Description of alleged violation: Irv Rhodes made a motion to go into Executive Session "never to return" but with no explanation/reason for the action, and Mr Hood allowed it without having a proper second from another member.

Describe the alleged violation that this complaint is about. If you believe the alleged violation was intentional, please say so and include the reasons supporting your belief. No, not intentional--just careless.

What action do you want the public body to take in response to your complaint? Apologize, promise it will never happen again. After school detention.

Review, sign, and submit your complaint
Read this important notice and sign your complaint.
Under most circumstances your complaint will be considered a public record and be available to any member of the public upon request.
I understand that when I submit this complaint the Attorney General's Office cannot give me legal advice and cannot act as my personal lawyer.

I certify that the information contained on this form is true to the best of my knowledge.

Signed: Larry Kelley Date: 1


Anonymous said...

what's going on with the teachers' contract??

LarryK4 said...

Well, that is exactly what Mr. Rhodes was supposed to say after moving to go into executive session: "for the purpose of contract negotiations."

I will let them chew on this for a while and on Monday request the minutes of the (technically illegal)executive session from last night.

And as soon as the teachers contract is signed they have to release those executive session minutes.

Ed said...

Larry, you lost all credibility with the "After School Detention" line in what is an official form.

Worse, what would you then say if someone not paying attention decided your cases on the merits and then ordered it?

LarryK4 said...

Hi Larry,

I stated at the beginning of the meeting that we would be going into executive session for the purpose of contract negotiations. It also says so on top of the agenda:

It is not required to state it in the motion; it is only required to state it at some point during the pubic meeting before the exec session.

Have a great turkey day.


LarryK4 said...

That was an email from Mr. Hood.

The Select Board always announces the reason as part of the motion, so it would be good to clear that up for one.

And two, you did not have a second.

Anonymous said...

But he has the minutes, and each of those has 60 seconds.

Anonymous said...

Even when Larry is wrong, you've still got to ask: who in our community is asking these questions of our elected leaders?

The Gazette? Not bloody likely.

What other blog actually gets the elected leader to respond?

I'd say the net result is pretty healthy for the local body politic. Who else pays attention to this stuff? Certainly not the newspapers.

Anonymous said...

This is pretty petty stuff. And a waste of everyone's time,something that Larry clearly has too much of. It was 10pm, everyone had had a long day and were not looking forward to who knows how long executive session. Perhaps and I say perhaps because we don't know if someone said a very quiet second, the motion was not clearly seconded. But everyone clearly agreed and voted to go into executive session.

The reason the papers don't report this kind of think is because it is NOT NEWS!!!! It's petty bs. All this because Larry did not hear a second????

Larry, this just proves what a little person you are who has some need to puff himself up all the time.

LarryK4 said...

Ahh, you poor thing.

I actually watched it a couple of times and there was no "very quiet second," because if it was very quiet the Chair's job would be to say loudly, "The motion has been seconded."

And if you remember, (tired as you were) Rob Spence made a motion AFTER Irv's motion to go into Executive Session--that Mr. Hood recognized and the Amherst School Committee voted to adjourn. All well and good.

Mr. Hood then returned to the motion for going into Executive Session, so even IF it had been seconded it would still have to be done over.

Anonymous said...


What turkey this one is. No second? Heaven for bid! You've got to come back to earth and focus on the issues that matter. Now you are just nit picking. You admit that they did indeed state their reason for going into executive session. They had the right to do so and it was reasonable for them to do so considering they were dealing with contract negotiation issues. So come on. BTW, you yourself took the Gateway commission into executive session, so get off your high horse.

Anonymous said...

since the teachers aren't out in black and chanting, I'll have to assume that the contract negotiations are about more money. If they get more money, and we soon need another override you can count me (for the first time) in the NO camp. Our teachers get ~50% more $$ than Hadley's and yet our MCAS scores for whites are nearly identical (Hadley is about all white, and v. low % free and reduced lunch). We aren't getting much benefit from our highly paid, highly "experienced" teachers by that measure. It would be scandalous to give them more, 2%/year was already pretty generous.

Anonymous said...

I wasn't the one who was tired....your pathetic attempt at trying to belittle me is not working, Nitwit Larry.

Many of the people sitting there had already put in a full day at their full time jobs (which you clearly don't have) then a 3 hour meeting and who knows how long an Executive Session.

I say again...this is NOT news...this is bs and you are a pathetic excuse for a "reporter."

LarryK4 said...

Anon 8:50 AM:
I chaired the Amherst Redevelopment Authority and took it into Executive Session (with the proper motion),it was not the "Gateway commission."

Details--like following legally mandated protocol--matter.

LarryK4 said...

Actually I do have a full-time job (besides raising two daughters) writing case studies for a prestigious college.

And unlike most of the SC members present for the Regional Meeting that started at 7:00 PM, I attended the Regional School Budget Sub Committee meeting that started at 5:30 PM, although I did leave at 6:25 PM to pick up my daughter at Muddy Brook Farm after her horse riding lesson and then tuned in via Amherst Media livestream from my home.

Interestingly enough I specifically asked Irv Rhodes at 5:30 PM (when we were alone in the room) if the full Regional Committee was going to discuss the teacher contract later and he said "No".

Ed said...

And the big thing relative to the teacher contract -- is the union going to continue to be able to set the curriculum (e.g. mandate trimesters)???

It is not a case of what the district has to pay to 'buy back" this management right, instead the district ought to take a lesson from their good buddies at UMass and simply not sign any contract that has this in it.

And the union ought to realize that while Catherine was a champion of education (with kids in the system), a lot of folk simply are TIRED OF PAYING TOO DAMN MUCH IN TAXES and an underride is quite possible.

What will happen when the majority of the parents *don't* have children in the ARSD? Why not let them "wither on the vine" as your kids aren't there....

Anonymous said...

what decisions were made at the recent sc mtg about the snow days? Are we wisely going to use days from winter and spring breaks? The video of the mtg isn't yet available. If no, why not?

LarryK4 said...

They are strongly leaning towards using April vacation (which they should) but they were too diffident to actually make the decision, much to Irv Rhodes consternation, who wanted to bite the bullet and get it over with.

Problem with floating a trial balloon in that way is the meeting did not get covered by the print media, and Amherst Media takes forever (in Internet time) to get it posted online, so people don't know what they are supposed to react to.

Anonymous said...

I believe, Larry, your response is not entirely accurate. They indicated they would use the April vacation but did not commit to using the entire week. They deferred that decision until they got closer to April to see if, after the winter was over,they needed to use the entire week or only a few days of the week.

Anonymous said...

thanks Larry,

was there a rationale offered for choosing spring break instead of winter? There are MCAS exams in March so an April make-up isn't going to help with that lost instruction. Also spring break offers a better spaced out break than winter. Or why not some taken from both breaks?

Anonymous said...

why not get rid of all the half days and late start days and teacher curriculum days to make up the lost week?

LarryK4 said...

I'm assuming we will have a typical New England winter, so it's a safe bet more snow days are to come. Thus they will need to make up an entire week.

One of the things they seemed to worry about was folks who had already set vacations in April and maybe purchased plane tickets that would not be refundable.

And there was talk about using Saturdays as a make up, but that of course would require permission of the teachers union and they seem to be a tad grumpy at the moment.

Anonymous said...

More importantly, Saturday is the Jewish sabbath.

Anonymous said...

yes, a small number of families may have bought plane tickets. No one can stop them from using them and having their child miss school. But there happens to be around 3000 other kids who would benefit from the extra time in lessons. Amherst, possibly the only town in the US where the considerations of a single individual outweighs the needs of the vast majority.

LarryK4 said...

Or as Lt Commander Spock would say, "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few."

Anonymous said...

is the position of newly appointed 'director of teaching and learning' yet another new (and costly) administrative position?

Ed said...

Larry, why does the teachers union have a say in this? Every contract I have always seen says you are hired for a set number of days and in the event the snow days are not used, you get out earlier -- and if they are, you have to make them up at the discretion of the admin.

0r are they hoping that Malden waives the 180 day rule because of the storm? Didn't they do that a couple years back with the ice storm? Go back into the archives and see what they did in 1978 as well -- MetroBoston was shut down for nearly 2 weeks but I don't think the state made them make it up...

LarryK4 said...

They spoke very briefly about a waiver, but nobody really seemed interested in going that route and most thought the state would never grant it anyway.

Anonymous said...

We have now have both a director of teaching and learning and a director of curriculum, instruction, and assessment. What is the difference between teaching and instruction?

Wow! the money just keeps flowing at ARPS! At least in administration.

Anonymous said...

The teachers union has a say on whether the teachers work on Saturday..also, if they were to have school on Saturday, the teachers would need to be paid time and a half for working on the weekend.

But, since the SC rightly agreed very quickly that having school on the Jewish Sabbath was not appropriate, there was no further discussion about holding classes on Saturday.

Anonymous said...

isn't there a director of achievement too?