Dear People:According to Section 10-4b of Chapter 163 regarding State Board of Education, Department of Education, “Any resident of a local or regional school district, or parent or guardian of a student enrolled in the public schools of such school district who has been unable to resolve a complaint with the board of education of such local or regional school district may file with the State Board of Education a complaint in writing.” I am a resident of Oxford, CT. Please consider this letter as my formal request for an investigation of the Oxford, CT, Board of Education which appears to be in violation of both Freedom Of Information Act and General Statute as described below.

On June 17, a petition was presented to the Oxford, CT, Board of Education requesting a hearing on issues related to the employment of the Superintendent of Schools. According to Chapter 170, Section 10-238, “Such hearing shall be held at a time and place to be designated by such board, not later than three weeks after receipt by the board of such petition.” Three weeks from June 17, 2010 is July 8, 2010. It is now July 12, 2010 and no hearing, which must be posted 5 days in advance, has yet been scheduled.

The Oxford Board of Education is failing to resolve a situation of direct concern to Oxford citizens in failing to schedule this hearing as required by law. Were a meeting to be scheduled today, they would still have violated the statute and their Oath of Office.

I have also filed a Freedom Of Information Complaint regarding members of the Oxford Board of Education acting as an unauthorized sub-committee without minority representation, holding unposted meetings, and expending funds without documented authorization. As stated in that complaint (in process as Docket 2010-386),

In a copy of the minutes of the meeting held on March 16, 2010, retrieved from the official Board of Education web site on June 16, 2010, reference is made to this group on page 2:

MOTION by Lavin, second by Macchio to attain Sullivan, Schoen, Campane & Connon, LLC, as the Board’s legal council as of March 16, 2010, and ask the Board’s Chairman to contact present council to initiate the transition.

Discussion: Mr. Reid asked how this firm was decided upon. Mrs. McKinnon stated that the three officers of the Board looked at various firms that specialize in education law, then narrowed it down to three or four; spoke to them and then made a decision.

I can find no minutes of any meeting held prior to this meeting containing any request for this group of officers to act upon any request of any kind, nor to speak on behalf of the board with anyone, but here they are seen acting as a subcommittee, apparently composed of Rose McKinnon, William Neary, and John Lavin (the Chair, Vice Chair and Secretary, respectively) of the Board of Education at the time and at present, and speaking on behalf of the Board with prospective attorneys. Indication of at least two meetings can be inferred from Mrs. McKinnon’s statement that firms were “looked at” and then the list was narrowed. Additionally, while this subcommittee is described as having,”narrowed it down to three or four,” there appears to be no record of the vote reflecting this action at what presumably is a third illegal meeting or non-noticed Executive Session….

Additionally, as the town charter and Connecticut General Statute require that all committees and subcommittees include minority representation, it  appears the formation of this group of people is in direct violation of the town charter and Connecticut General Statutes, as it contains no minority representation.

In a meeting on May 19, 2010, there was a

Motion made by Mike Macchio and seconded by John Lavin to enter into Executive Session at 8:40 PM for the purpose of discussing written legal opinions from the Board’s counsel regarding the Superintendents and Business Managers contracts. The Board may take action in the form of motions upon returning to open session.

There appears to be no record of any request for the “written legal opinions” referred to in the motion, nor any prior reference to a discussion of those contracts, either in or out of Executive Session, nor any authorization by the Board to spend funds on those “written legal opinions”. Yet, Mr. Macchio is making a motion to enter Executive Session to discuss an issue that does not appear to have been raised by the Board regarding a legal opinion the Board has never publicly requested and for which it has not publicly voted to expend funds.

Lastly, the Oxford Board of Education has, beginning in May after voting to void the contract of the Superintendent, twice extended the employment of the Superintendent, now extending it to July 31 in order to complete a Performance Review that was required to have been performed in April. This is clearly not in the best interests of the children of Oxford and has led to the resignations of the Business Manager and the Administrative Assistant to the Superintendent. Last week, in what was purportedly not related, the Principal of Oxford High School unexpectedly retired.

For the reasons contained in this letter, I am requesting that the Connecticut State Board of Education commence a formal investigation of the Oxford Board of Education, which is in violation of State Statutes regarding the requirements to hold public hearings in response to petitions, forming unauthorized subcommittees to hold unposted and undocumented meetings and apparently expend funds, is apparently operating in a manner inconsistent with Freedom Of Information Requirements, and which is operating in a manner clearly detrimental to the children of the Town of Oxford.

Sincerely,

William F. Schmitt

cc    Mary Ann Drayton-Rogers
First Selectman, Oxford
(hand-delivery)

Rose McKinnon
Chairman, Oxford Board of Education
(hand-delivery)

Voices Newspaper
(hand-delivery)

Valley Independent Sentinal
(via email)

4 Responses to “Complaint Sent to Connecticut State Board of Education on July 12, 2010”

  1. SLCastelot says:

    what is the current status of this complaint?

  2. Bill Schmitt says:

    No response as of yet. But it was only sent Monday. The Post Office web site used to confirm receipt is not currently available, but I will post here when I see confirmation.

  3. Bill Schmitt says:

    The complaint processed through the delivering Post Office on 7/13 at just before noon. Final delivery has not yet been registered.

  4. Bill Schmitt says:

    Delivered, July 14, 2010, 10:08 am, HARTFORD, CT 06106