Attorney's advice halts Shelton BOE reorganization vote

Exterior view of the Board of Education offices in Shelton, Conn. Nov. 5, 2020.

Exterior view of the Board of Education offices in Shelton, Conn. Nov. 5, 2020.

Ned Gerard / Hearst Connecticut Media

SHELTON — The present Board of Education leadership will remain in place until the next election — but not because any vote took place among the members.

In a memo submitted to the board members prior to Wednesday’s virtual meeting, corporation counsel Fred Stanek recommended that selecting panel leaders was not necessary even though this type of reorganization is called for in the board’s bylaws and has been done for years.

No vote on chair, vice chair and secretary was held. Board member Amanda Kilmartin, a Democrat, motioned to table the vote until board members could obtain another legal opinion on the matter.

The board voted 5-4 along party lines to deny Kilmartin’s motion, ending any hope of a reorganization vote and leaving Kathy Yolish as chairwoman, James Orazietti vice chairman and Amy Romano secretary until after the municipal election next November.

When the reorganization agenda item was called by Yolish, Stanek stated the city charter and Connecticut General Statute language supersedes the board bylaws, and the board had “no authority to elect officers” at this point.

Stanek said the next such vote should only occur after a municipal election.

But Kilmartin and fellow board member Diana Meyer questioned Stanek’s opinion. Since this reorganization has occurred annually without incident for several years, Meyer asked why the vote could not be held again.

Stanek said he was not approached by any board members and only elected to offer his opinion after seeing the item on the agenda.

“I don’t understand where this is coming from?” Meyer asked.

Stanek replied that he had not been counsel to the board in prior years, but after seeing this agenda item, he realized that the city charter and state statute stipulate that the board would be acting without the power to elect.

Kilmartin had Stanek confirm that there is no time frame listed in the city charter or state statutes that would prohibit the board from holding the vote that night.

Yolish said, while the board has chosen not to act on reorganization this year, she will contact CABE for an opinion.

brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com