Epic – Former NH Supreme Court Justice Chuck Douglas smack down of NH State Education Commissioner Virginia Barry

This past Saturday (I gotta get the videos done – Thank GOD that Steve got the audio done!) we had Jody Underwood, Chair of the Croydon School Board, on to talk about the fight that NH State Education Commissioner Virginia Barry (Ph.D., dontcha know) concerning Cryodon and SAU #43’s use of “school choice” to send its children to the best school for that child – even if it is not a public school.  Well, that action has seemingly unsettled Her Highness of Ed to absolutely no end – how DARE Croydon actually take advantage of the actual words in NH’s state statutes (RSA’s)!

Former NH Supreme Court Justice Chuck Douglas went and (ahem!) took Virginia Barry to school on the law (full Letter after the jump):

Dear Commissioner Barry:

This is in response to your concerns regarding Croydon and SAU #43’s practice of sending pupils to private schools on a limited basis. It is our position that each assignment to a private school has been lawful. Each of your concerns is addressed below.

You cite RSA 193:1 and purport that it says that districts may only assign students to public schools. This is inaccurate. RSA 193:1 defines the duties of parents to ensure school attendance and neither describes the duties districts have nor restricts the assignment ability of districts. In addition to your inaccurate interpretation, you cite to the portion of that statute that states: “A parent of any child at least 6 years of age….shall cause such a child to attend the public school to which the child is assigned.” You fail to cite section (a) of the statute which clearly states that private school attendance is an exception to attending public school.

RSA 193:1:

“Such child shall attend full time when such school is in session unless:

DL&G DOUGLAS, LEONARD & GARVEY, P.C.

A T T O R N E Y S

<redacted>

March 23, 2015

Virginia M. Barry, Ph.D.

Commissioner of Education

New Hampshire Department of Education

101 Pleasant Street Concord, N.H. 03301
Dear Commissioner Barry:

This is in response to your concerns regarding Croydon and SAU #43’s practice of sending pupils to private schools on a limited basis. It is our position that each assignment to a private school has been lawful. Each of your concerns is addressed below.

You cite RSA 193:1 and purport that it says that districts may only assign students to public schools. This is inaccurate. RSA 193:1 defines the duties of parents to ensure school attendance and neither describes the duties districts have nor restricts the assignment ability of districts. In addition to your inaccurate interpretation, you cite to the portion of that statute that states: “A parent of any child at least 6 years of age….shall cause such a child to attend the public school to which the child is assigned.” You fail to cite section (a) of the statute which clearly states that private school attendance is an exception to attending public school.

RSA 193:1:

“Such child shall attend full time when such school is in session unless:

(a)The child is attending a New Hampshire public school outside the district to which the child is assigned or an approved New Hampshire private school for the same time;” (emphasis added).

You cite RSA 193:3 and state “Even where a parent successfully petitions a district to assign the child to a different school as a result of ‘manifest educational hardship,’ the district must make an assignment to a different school.” This is also inaccurate. This is the portion of RSA 193:3 that you included to support your argument: “….may order such child to attend another school in the same district….. or to attend school in another district.” Nowhere in this quotation does it require that assignments be made only to public schools. The term “public” does not even appear in the sentence.

Further, RSA 193:3(II) states that each school district shall establish a policy: “…which shall allow a school board, with the recommendation of the superintendent, to take appropriate action including, but not limited to, assignment to a public school in another district when manifest educational hardship is shown.” (emphasis added). The inclusion of “but not limited to” clearly expresses that districts are not limited solely to the action of reassigning students to other public schools. It is inaccurate to interpret the statute as inherently restricting the ability of districts to send students to private schools just because it includes reassignment of students to public schools as a permitted course of action.

Your references to the adequacy requirements placed upon public schools under RSA 193-E and RSA 193-C are irrelevant to the issue at hand. The issue is whether or not the District is barred from funding the attendance of students at private schools; it is not an issue of whether public schools are more accountable to the State or better than private schools.

Private schools must undergo a rigorous and continuous approval process in order to operate in New Hampshire. Under RSA 21-N:9 and RSA 186:11, the Department of Education promulgated NH ADC ED 403.01-408.09 which places heavy monitoring and quality assurance standards on private schools. The argument that sending students to private schools “threatens to undermine the public school accountability system” is baseless. The State of New Hampshire has placed accountability standards on both public and private schools which will be maintained regardless of the decision of school districts to send some students to private schools.

RSA 194:22 permits districts to contract with other public or non-public educational institutions and appropriate money to carry out such contracts. As per RSA 194:23(II), approval of these contracts by the State Board of Education is only necessary if the contracts are made with “public academies.” Further, as per RSA 194:27, the tuition paid to private schools through contracts is not limited by statute.

For these reasons the district respectfully will continue to send students to private schools when it believes it is in the best interest of the child and the district. If you wish to respond please do so to me as counsel for the district.
Sincerely,

Jody Underwood,

By her attorney,

Charles G. Douglas, III
CGD:dae

 *******************

It was fun – always fun in poking fun at the clueless apparatchik who keep on forgetting they put on their underwear the same way the rest of us do….and we have a PERFECT example of someone highly educated in their field and attempting to cross-over to another and still believe they are a star in that field, too.

And for no real reason at all, may I add.  Sorta like Obama who proudly proclaimed that he was better at all of his underlings’ jobs than they were.

by Skip

Co-founder of GraniteGrok, my concern is around Individual Liberty and Freedom (and how Government is taking that away from us). My fight, from a Conservative (with small “L” libertarian leanings) and evangelical Christian perspective, is with the Progressives that are forcing a collectivized and secular humanistic future upon us. As TEA Party activist, citizen journalist (and pundit!), my goal is to use the New Media to advance the radical notions of America’s Founders back into our culture again.