FAIRFIELD — The Town Council was set to consider new applicants to fill the three vacancies on School Administrative District 49’s School Board at Wednesday evening’s meeting but decided instead to postpone the application deadline by one more week after Chairman Aaron Rowden raised some concerns.

“First I’d like to point out that fellow council member Courtney Chandler isn’t here tonight, and we know I don’t like to pursue important action such as this when there’s a member of the council missing,” Rowden said. “Also, the initial deadline was not set or announced to the public ahead of tonight’s meeting, and it occurred to me how that may be unfair to those who rely on us for updates.”

Councilors also said that the deadline would be extended until Wednesday, Aug. 21, because of procedural issues with the resignations of Shelley Rudnicki, Caroline Toto-Lawrence and Tim Martin. The resignations were presented to the council at the last meeting on July 10, but were not actually valid until July 31.

Rudnicki, Toto-Lawrence and Martin were supposed to take their resignations to the school board before taking them to the town council, according to Michelle Flewelling, Fairfield’s town manager. Because the board members resigned first at the council meeting, their actions were not considered valid until the school board made an official acknowledgement of the resignations, she said.

That acknowledgement did not occur until July 31 when School Board Chairman Shawn Knox sent Flewelling an email, legitimizing the resignation of the three board members.

The resignations from Rudnicki, Toto-Lawrence and Martin were mostly due to what Rudnicki claimed was ongoing persecution from the communities of Albion, Benton, Clinton and Fairfield during the past school year.


“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.”

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

Rudnicki’s rocky relationship with the board reached its peak in April when she was ousted from her position as school board chairwoman during a five-hour meeting. Martin resigned from his position as vice chairman the same night.

The three resignations came just one week after superintendent Namin resigned from his position.

Namin’s resignation took effect Aug. 2 and the district recently promoted assistant superintendent Roberta Hersom to serve as interim superintendent for the duration of the 2019 to 2020 school year.

After the deadline for school board member applications comes on Aug. 21, the town council will then review and appoint members during the meeting on Aug. 28.

The newly appointed school board members will have terms that are set to expire Nov. 5, on municipal election day.

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