School board can do what it wants on superintendent issue

  • Published in Local News

GILFORD — A Belknap County Superior Court judge ruled yesterday that the Gilford School Board can administer the School District however it wishes as long as it provides for the level of education mandated by state and federal laws.

Judge James O’Neill granted the School District’s request for summary judgment — meaning the case filed against it by Doug Lambert, David Horvath, and Kevin Leandro is dismissed because there are no valid points of law to be ...

GILFORD — A Belknap County Superior Court judge ruled yesterday that the Gilford School Board can administer the School District however it wishes as long as it provides for the level of education mandated by state and federal laws.

Judge James O’Neill granted the School District’s request for summary judgment — meaning the case filed against it by Doug Lambert, David Horvath, and Kevin Leandro is dismissed because there are no valid points of law to be adjudicated.

“While the authority to raise and appropriate money rests with the legislative body by way of the school district meeting, the school board generally holds the authority to make contracts of behalf of the school district,” wrote O’Neill citing previous case law.

“The school board, therefore, is the ‘managing board of the school district,” he continued. “It is the school board’s primary duty ‘to provide, at district expense, elementary and secondary education to all pupils who reside in the district,’” he continued.

Lambert, Leandro and Horvath had argued that since Gilford School District broke from sharing administrative services with Laconia, voters — once in 1999 and again in 2011 — have twice voted against the traditional school district administrative structure headed by a superintendent.

The trio acted as their own attorneys.

The School District, through its lawyers, successfully argued the School Board of a single-district school district has the authority to determine the administrative position and the “legislative body cannot usurp that authority.”

Judge O'Neill said that from the moment SAU 73 or the Gilford School District, became a lawfully organized school district, it became a corporation and accordingly held the power to enter into all necessary contracts and those necessary contracts include the one signed with current Superintendent Kent Hemingway in March of 2011.

He said the petitioners argument that the school district failed to follow the planning committee’s 1998 recommendations that set out a different form of administration when SAU 73 was first formed, was “unpersuasive.”

While O’Neill recognized the School District didn’t follow the planning committee’s proposed pan, once a SAU becomes a single-district SAU, it is exempt from meeting the requirements of RSA 194-C, except that “it shall provide superintendent services pursuant to RSA 194-C.”

O’Neill ruled against Lambert, Horvath and Leandro because, he said, they couldn’t prove the required education services were not provided.