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Committee Abruptly Adjourns Meeting Before Public Comment

Tuesday night's school committee ending abruptly, excluding half the agenda and public comment.

More than 300 supporters of the Education Support Professionals union looking to speak out against the North Kingstown School Committee's move to outsource the department's custodial services as well as contract negotiations on Tuesday will have to wait another night.

Just more than an hour after the start of the meeting, the committee abruptly moved to adjourn the meeting shortly after 8 p.m. – leaving almost half the agenda unaddressed. Amongst the lingering agenda items was public comment, which the committee moved from the beginning of the agenda to the end in a 3-2 vote. (Members Melvoid Benson and Bill Mudge opposed the vote, as well as the votes to adjourn for the night.)

"To adjourn and not let the public speak is irresponsible," said Larry Purtill, president of National Educators Association Rhode Island. "It showed 400 people what ESP has had to deal with." 

The school department and ESP have been negotiating the union – which represents the district's paraprofessionals, cafeteria workers, custodians and other support personnel. Earlier this summer, . Twenty-six custodians were laid off by the decision – though according to . Superintendent Phil Auger says that the union wants the outsourcing decision reversed as part of its current negotiations. The union has also taken legal action against the school department in the matter.

Both parties were in court Tuesday afternoon following a strike by the ESP union, . According to an announcement from Superior Court Judge Brian Stern, .

Members of the North Kingstown teachers union, the North Kingstown Fire Union (Local 1651), NEARI, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (Local 2323) and others joined ESP members outside the high school prior to the meeting. Once inside, the crowd raised signs reading "We are one" and "Economic Violence." A banner proclaiming "NK School Committee = Playground Bullies" was held up before the committee table before police asked it to be moved.

Though the committee never got to public comment, members of the audience voiced their opinions throughout the meeting – yelling, booing and applauding at various points in the meeting. Before and during the meeting, the crowd chanted "shame on you" to the committee.

Committee Members Larry Ceresi and Lynda Avanzato were absent from Tuesday night's meeting. According to School Committee Secretary Laureen Berglund, all seven members (including Avanzato and Ceresi) attended portions of the committee's executive session meeting – which took place an hour before its regularly scheduled meeting. 

Dave August 31, 2012 at 02:20 PM
NKTT, get your facts straight, very low of you to repeat a pack of lies about a kid, but this is supposedly all about the kids, right?. Halley was gone as Super before Avanzato even ran. Yeah, I think she was instrumental in Halley leaving after she blew the whistle on his wrongdoing in the press. He was not fired, his contract was bought out. The buy out he was given by some members of the SC at the time, had nothing to do with her, but shame on anyone who voted for that. But it was pretty clear that he went after her kid because she spoke oout against him in the press. I remember that whole thing, I would have sued him too! Nice try but your low life smear job and lies have failed.
Dark star August 31, 2012 at 02:48 PM
@CBA, I am sure you are not alone with your question as to their whereabouts. Maybe you can email them to find out. I would, but they have been ignoring my emails for months now.
Lorraine F August 31, 2012 at 08:00 PM
You're not subtracting out the payments the janitors have to make to the mop-ia, um, I mean the union.
We R NK August 31, 2012 at 09:11 PM
According to who, NKGOP? You need to stop misleading people with your hearsay. The entire union is and was willing to make huge concessions, but certain members of the school committee and administration have an agenda and are trying to make it stick. I'm still for districts sharing a super, etc.....We would save HUGE!!!! and maybe stop accumulating DEBT that are children grandchildren, and great grandchildren will have to endure!!
NKGOP Watch September 03, 2012 at 04:32 AM
Not hear say, the unions have 'won' their members excessive pay and now the chickens have come home to roost, and from that you get EGGS 000000000

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