Clough resigns from School Committee, out of council race

Clough resigns from School Committee, out of council race

SMITHFIELD – Saying he’s moving on to the next chapter of his life, Sean Clough is resigning from his position on the Smithfield School Committee and pulling out of the race for a seat on the Town Council.

Clough said that during his six years on the school board, the past four as chairman, he attended law school and earned his juris doctorate from Roger Williams University, and began looking forward to entering the legal profession. He recently secured a position at the Rhode Island Superior Court as a law clerk, which prohibits employees from holding public office.

His resignation was effective immediately as of Monday, Sept. 3.

“To perform this position to the best of my ability, I must divorce myself from even the mere appearance of political impropriety,” Clough said in a letter to The Valley Breeze & Observer. “Thus, it is with a heavy heart that I will be withdrawing from the race for Smithfield Town Council and resigning from my position as Smithfield School Committee member.”

According to the judicial personnel rules and regulations, it is “critical to maintain the confidence and integrity of the Rhode Island Judiciary,” and be mindful of the separation of powers. It states that certain judicial employees, including law clerks, must remain politically neutral and are prohibited from seeking or holding elected office.

According to Craig Berke, Rhode Island Judiciary director of community outreach and public relations, when Clough started work on Aug. 27, the Judiciary was unaware that Clough held public office, and Clough was unaware of the rule.

“The administration met with him and explained the situation,” Berke said. “The administration gave him time to think about what he wanted to do.”

As a lifelong resident of Smithfield and graduate of Smithfield schools, Clough said his education in the town instilled in him a great sense of community, leadership, and public service.

Though he agreed to leave the committee, he said the decision did not come lightly.

“I am proud of what we have all accomplished and am humbled by the voters of Smithfield who have entrusted me with the duty to lead our school district,” Clough said.

During his time on the committee, Clough said he was proud to lend a hand in instituting one-to-one laptops for each student in grades 3-12, instituting all-day kindergarten, and making health and safety renovations to the high school and middle school.

“Further, we positioned the school department and town nicely to achieve maximum reimbursement for the state for the upcoming elementary school reconfiguration project,” he said.

He wished the schools and town leaders the best, and said without the hard work and effort of the committee, administrators, teachers and staff, Smithfield schools would not be “the best place in the state to work and learn.”

With the upcoming election, Clough said he has full faith in the Town Council making the best decisions for the town and school.

Clough said he hopes to enter into civil litigation in a private practice, in which case he may entertain the idea of joining the realm of public service again. He said representing students with disabilities before the school board is “near and dear to my heart,” and something he will continue to pursue.

“Anything is possible. I love the town of Smithfield, but I will weigh that decision in the future,” he said.