FRAMNGHAM – One member of the Framingham School Committee has filed an open meeting law complaint against her fellow Committee.
Michelle Brosnahan filed a complaint on November 14, about the School Committee Meeting on October 16, 2017.
Discussion of the complaint is on the agenda for the School Committee meeting on Tuesday, November 28.
Brosnahan alleges the Framingham School Committee, specifically Heather Connolly, Jim Kelly, Ricky Finlay, and Scott Wadland, violated the Commonwealth’s Open Meeting Law at that meeting. (Editor’s Note: Brosnahan spells Wadland’s name wrong throughout the complaint. She spells it Wadlin.)
In her complaint, Brosnahan alleges that four members of the School Committee – specifically Connolly, Kelly, Finlay, and Wadland had copies of documents at that meeting and that she and other members of the 7-member Committee did not.
In Brosnahan’s complaint, wrote “the four people should be fine (sic) and not allowed to run for or participate in any way of being an elected official as this has been a continuos (sic) problem with these four people.” (Edtor’s Note: quotes are directly from the complaint. Spelling is as it was written.)
Brosnahan alleges that at least four members had copies of the documents, and thus the Committee violated the Open Meeting Law, as four would be quorum of the 7-member School Committee.
“I called to table + Ms. Connoly the chair sat there smiling + would not gavel She let the attack by Ricky Finley, Scott Wadlin & Jim Kelly continue on of the worst public meeting in the history of Framingham,” wrote Brosnahan in her complaint.
“They tried to do an immediate hearing but yet I was told I could not get the information everyone else had. I asked several questions of things spiraled out of control to the point where an extremely unfounded + reputation damaging article was written By Ms Connolly + sent by email to Framingham Source. The film of the attack was even posted,” she wrote in her complaint.
At that October 16 meeting, which was televised on the Education Channel, member Ricky Finlay questioned whether School Committee member Beverly Hugo should continue to be a warrrant signer. Finlay argued Hugo had caused problems at central office questioning a check for $100, that delayed a payment to the athletic office for more than $10,000. Finlay argued the check was deemed appropriate and yet Hugo still refused to sign it.
During the meeting, Brosnahan asked for the issue to be tabled. No other member seconded her motion. She then left the meeting. Eventually, the School Committee members agreed to table the matter to a public hearing at a later date. That hearing has been scheduled for December 12.
Finlay told Source he had requested the 135-page documents about Hugo questioning a check for $100, via a Freedom of Information request.
The documents Finlay received via a Freedom of Information request were compiled for an October closed door meeting between School Committee Chair Connolly, Hugo, Superintendent of Schools Bob Tremblay, Public Schools Executive Director of Business Operations Ed Gotgart, Human Resources Director Inna London, and Hugo’s attorney. Those in attendance for that October meeting received a copy of the documents.
Jim Kelly’s attorney had also made a freedom of information request for the documents, as Kelly was unhappy about statements made about him by Hugo. She accused him of campaign fraud and accused him of organizing a golf tournament to benefit the Framingham High athletics department for political gain.
While four members may have had the documents on or before October 16, two received through freedom of information requests.
Brosnahan did not have the documents. School Committee member Cheryl Gordon has said she did not have the documents. Wadland has never said he had the documents, but indicated during the live meeting he did not have copies at that meeting.
State Law requires any violation of the Open Meeting Law must first be filed with the “public body” alleged to have violated the law within 30 days of the date of the violation. The meeting happened on October 16. Brosnahan filed her complaint with the Framingham School Committee on November 14.
Under state law, the Framingham School Committee has 14 business days to review the allegations and take remedial action, if appropriate, and notify the complaintant of the remedial action. If the individual who filed the complaint is unhappy with the action, he or she can seek further review by the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office.
Included in Brosnahan’s complaint was several personal emails, and other correspondence about the October 16 meeting and several documents unreleated to the October 16 meeting, including a letter Framingham Source published written by Connolly an former Framingham School Committee member Don Taggart.
Also included in the documents to support Brosnahan’s clain were private emails between Brosnahan and her District 6 School Committee opponent Geoffrey Epstein. Epstein won the District 6 School Committee seat, and will be sworn in on January 1. Brosnahan’s term as a School Committee member will end on December 31.
Epstein, a day after winning the election, wrote to the current School Committee suggesting the Dec. 12 hearing on Hugo be cancelled or at least held behind closed doors.
“If this gets dragged out into the public arena, there will be further damage to the institution of the School Committee and the reputation of Framingham Public Schools. It will no doubt attract the attention of the press which always will be quite happy to expose in detail the dysfunctionality of the School Committee and the disarray of Framingham to increase their circulation or web traffic,” wrote Epstein.
In another correspondence with Brosnahan, before the election, he wrote if would be best for the future of the School Committee if both Kelly and Wadland lost their election.
Kelly lost to Hugo. Wadland won.