As MoreThanTheCurve.com reported over the weekend, a dispute between current members of the Colonial School Board has become public via social media. Since the original article, school board member Felix Raimondo has released a statement to NBC10’s Deana Durante (apparently he ignored our inquiry) and that was followed by a statement from three current members (School Board President Susan Moore and members Cathy Peduzzi and Mel Brodsky). Below are the statements:
Statement from Felix Raimondo
Throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, incumbent school board directors and school directors-elect are gathering information in preparation for reorganization during the first week of December. The same is true of elected officials in boroughs and townships, who will also be reorganizing. The purpose of these meetings is to discuss their goals and priorities and to evaluate of professional services the boards will utilize. The gathering of information is a critical step for elected officials.
As for why these interviews are being conducted, it is the duty of the board to do their due diligence. It is critical to have fully informed board members on day one. Directors need to have assurance their legal professionals’ advice aligns with their goals and priorities. This process of fact finding allows for boards to get to work on the issues the voters elected them for. In order to move forward with their goals, directors need to have confidence in the legal advice given to them. The election of officers and the appointment of a solicitor will take place by a public vote- which is what the Sunshine Act requires.
There are no secret meetings. No backroom deals. No lack of transparency. These interviews are legal. In fact, the District’s current solicitor has confirmed that he will participate in the interviews. If the meetings were illegal I am certain he would have raised that issue with me.
The solicitor serves at the pleasure of the school board. Any lawyer can confirm this fact. When this board reorganizes in December, it will elect new officers and may appoint a new solicitor if a majority of directors feels it is warranted. This decision to make an appointment of the solicitor by the new school board will take place by a public vote, which is what the Sunshine Act requires.
Statement from Susan Moore, Mel Brodsky and Cathy Peduzzi
November 28, 2017
We regret that you have apparently decided to go ahead with the solicitor interviews this evening. As has have previously communicated to you, we believe they are ill advised and ill timed.
The legally constituted school board certainly has a right and responsibility to obtain the best legal counsel at the best prices available, and there are protocols and procedures to do just that. The people you invited to participate in the interviews are not a legally constituted board until December 4th and therefore should not be involved in the process until then.
We cannot fathom how you have the authority at this time to call and conduct such a meeting; we do not know how, and on what basis you have selected who should be interviewed; we believe that if all the incumbent board members showed up it would constitute a quorum of the board and therefore make the meeting a violation of the Sunshine Law, which could have both criminal and civil repercussions ; the incoming board members have no legal standing until after they are sworn in on December 4th; and finally, this entire process is at best “shady,” and at worst illegal.
We have often heard it said that our most valuable possessions are our reputations and our integrity. We believe that both of these would be badly damaged if we participated in this process, and therefore will not be attending the interviews.
If and when you are the presiding member of the board, there will be ample time to try to make what you think are necessary changes by following accepted procedures.
We will see you at the next regularly scheduled public board meeting where all members of the community are invited to participate.
Susan Moore – School Board President
Mel Brodsky – Human Resources Committee Chair
Cathy Peduzzi – Community Relations/Student Life Committee Chair
- If everything is being done by the book, why the outside venue?
- If everything is being done by the book, why not invite the public to attend?
- Raimondo has not answered questions asking who exactly is being interviewed. In his statement, he stated the current solicitor is going to be interviewed. So why not? announce all of the interviewees?
- Why don’t all the current members show up? Doing so would make the meeting more questionable as whether it should have been an official public meeting.
We are told by multiple sources, that one candidate is Michael Clarke of Clarke & Rudolph. Clarke is the solicitor for the Conshohocken Sewer Authority, of which Raimondo is the chair. Clarke donates generously to political campaigns, including Building Colonial’s Future, which is the political umbrella for Democratic Party candidates running for Colonial School Board. Clarke donated $2,500 to Building Colonial’s Future on September 27, 2017.
If you are wondering, once the new school board is sworn in, the school board will be 100% controlled by the Democratic Party. There are currently two Republicans, one who chose not to run and one who lost in the recent election.
So we will try to attend this meeting tonight. It is at 5:00 p.m. at the Plymouth Township Building. Wish us luck.
UPDATE – We went to the meeting place at the appropriate time and no one else was there. A source tells us it was cancelled.