Shelley Rudnicki shocked the Fairfield Town Council at their meeting on Wednesday evening when she formally submitted her resignation from her position as a school board member for the School Administrative District 49.

Rudnicki, who also gave resignations on behalf of fellow board members Caroline Toto-Lawrence and Tim Martin, claims that stalled progress and ongoing persecution from the community is largely what drove them to give up their positions.

“The board is nonproductive. … There has been continuous harassment against certain board members for just trying to do their jobs,” Rudnicki said. “We’ve chosen at this time to leave the board. … We hope that the council can appoint people who can represent Fairfield and bring the school board back together again.”

Rudnicki also mentioned an uneven balance of power that she thinks is present on the school board and in the community it serves.

“The smaller towns in the district are basically running the show,” Rudnicki said. “They’re getting a lot of behind-the-scenes help, … so we feel it’s in the best interest of the students for us to step down.”

SAD 49 has experienced a turbulent year partly because of controversy surrounding Superintendent Reza Namin’s restructuring plans.


Rudnicki was ousted from her position as school board chairwoman during a five-hour meeting in April. Martin resigned from his position as vice chairman the same night.

The Town Council moved to accept Rudnicki and Toto-Lawrence’s resignations officially but put Martin’s on hold because his letter was unsigned and he was not present at the meeting.

The resignations come just one week after Namin announced his own resignation.

After accepting Rudnicki’s resignation, council Chairman Aaron Rowden took a moment to thank the exiting board members.

“I want to thank the board members who came here and made the tough decision that they believe is in the best interest of the district,” Rowden said. “We’ll have some difficult choices to make and we’ll make sure we make them  in the best interest of the community. Once again, thank you for your courage and discretion tonight.”

Additionally, council member Peter Lawrence motioned to allow Town Manager Michelle Flewelling to invite elected officials and school board members from Fairfield, Albion, Clinton and Benton, to a formal meeting that will address SAD 49’s plans to move forward.


At the last council meeting, on June 25, Flewelling had disclosed that she and SAD 49’s board Chairman Shawn Knox had been conversing about possibly setting up a forum for Fairfield school board members and council members. The forum was meant to address the ongoing complaints she and Rowden had been receiving about the school board’s conduct.

Before Rudnicki presented the resignations, Rowden read an email the council had received from Knox declining the invitation to the forum.

According to Knox’s email, because of the different legalities and rules the board and the council have to abide by, a joint forum would not be the best approach in solving the problems.

Lawrence’s motion to set up a more formal meeting with all of the towns that fall under SAD 49 was met with skepticism by Rowden.

“Reading that letter from Mr. Knox suggests to me that it might not be effective to motion for the town manager to negotiate again,” Rowden said. “We were unable to have an informal discussion with part of the board, so I’m not encouraged that we’ll have a broader meeting. I’m not rejecting the idea I’m just pointing out we may be met with the same response.”

But despite Rowden’s doubt the council agreed to allow Flewelling to contact Knox once again to organize a more formal and larger meeting of council members and the school board.

There was no word on whether additional board members are planning to resign.

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