April 14, 2008

The Right to Know What's Happenin' With Chariho

Carroll Andrew Morse

It looks like the attempt by the National Education Association to place restrictions on school committee members' communication with the public in the Chariho district has come to an end. NEA Assistant Executive Director Peter Gingras, who last year filed a Labor Relations Board complaint against the Chariho School Committee making the vague assertion that Committeeman William Felkner's publishing of the Chariho School Parents Forum blog constituted an attempt "to communicate directly with bargaining unit members represented by the union", has notified the LRB that he wishes to withdraw the complaint.

Over at CSPF, Committeeman Felkner has posted a letter written by Hopkinton resident Mary Botelle which eloquently describes the multiple flaws in the premise of the NEA complaint…

  1. Freedom of speech and assembly are guaranteed to all citizens. In this era, websites provide an electronic form of assembly and the written word replaces the spoken word. Therefore, Chariho School Parents' Forum, managed by William Felkner, provides parents and taxpayers with a method of making their concerns and opinions known…
  2. Section 16-2-9.1 of the General Laws entitled Code of Basic Management Principles and Ethical School Standards (copy enclosed) provides the standards to be followed by school committees.

    It is to be noted that subsection (4) and (5) refer to communication with the public:

    (4) Accept and encourage a variety of opinions from and communication with all parts of the community.

    (5) Make public relevant institutional information in order to promote communication and understanding between the school system and the community.

    Therefore, it is clear that the committee should invite the community to participate so that decisions made will reflect the will of the community, and to provide information so that the community will be properly informed.

To its credit, the LRB never appeared to take the complaint very seriously. However the process dragged on, in part, because Chariho Superintendent Barry Ricci and the Chariho school board's lawyer seemed unable to summon any enthusiasm for defending the free speech and due process rights of school committee members, or for defending the right of the public to be given as much information as possible about school committee proceedings. The lesson here is to be wary of the nexus between government bureaucrats and labor unions; they sometimes act under the assumption that they can agree to bargain away the Constitutional rights of the general public. Expect this issue to pop-up in Rhode Island in various forms over the next few years.

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

Funny thing about it is Mr. Felkner posted a list of NEA tactics on his website prior to the gambit. You would think the School Committee would take notice and ignore the games played by NEA during contract negotiations. Instead, the union-friendly administration and dimwitted School Committee reacted actually as the NEA would want. They wasted time and money. Months later, after a another ridiculous union contract is signed, the NEA calls it all off. The NEA will be bragging about this episode for years to come.

Fortunately for taxpayers of Chariho, Mr. Felkner refused to be intimidated into silence and Mrs. Botelle has seen to much to be pushed around by a union hack. Maybe next time taxpayers will have better representation all around? We can always hope.

Posted by: Curious Resident at April 14, 2008 5:09 PM

Mary Botelle is the widow of a former Hopkinton Town Clerk,Hopkinton School committee Member, and longtime Hopkinton Town Solicitor. She brings much to the table locally.

Posted by: Scott Bill Hirst at April 15, 2008 11:52 AM

It is interesting to note that the very people who deem teacher contracts to be "ridiculous" know almost nothing about education. You have no idea what we do every day, because you never take the time to find out. I challenge each of you self-righteous ignoramuses to spend a day shadowing a teacher who "only works six hours a day" (a physical impossibility, given all these state mandates that keep getting tacked on each year) and then honestly tell that teacher he or she doesn't earn their money. You people have no problem paying ballplayers and lawyers exorbitant sums for what THEY do, but God forbid a teacher gets compensated appropriately.

Before you start ripping us up for being slackers, try actually finding out what you're attacking before blindly and ignorantly slandering us.

And by the way, those of you who want to "corporatize" education, please try to understand that we're trying to build CHILDREN here, not MACHINE PARTS.

Maybe the average Rhode Island taxpayer wouldn't be "broken" if he or she spent less time whining about the high cost of education and more time screaming about the ten billion dollars a month we're pouring down that rat hole in Iraq. It amazes me that NOBODY seems to be making THAT connection when it comes to money woes.

Posted by: Gabriel Corrigan at November 20, 2008 8:10 AM

The comment you just censored is the second letter in two days that right-wing websites have deleted.

Please stop prattling on about your love for America and the Constitution, since you clearly have no interest in any points of view that don't ape your own. The First Amendment is a joke to you.

Posted by: Gabriel Corrigan at November 20, 2008 8:15 AM

Sorry about the "censorship" comment. I should have waited longer for the first comment to be posted, although I still do think you freeper folks are pretty intolerant of differing viewpoints.

Posted by: Gabriel Corrigan at November 20, 2008 9:20 AM
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