Judge rules RISE Mayoral Academy will open Monday, but litigation continues

Judge rules RISE Mayoral Academy will open Monday, but litigation continues

WOONSOCKET - Superior Court Judge Michael Silverstein denied an injunction aimed at preventing a new charter school - the RISE Prep Mayoral Academy - from opening its doors in Woonsocket next week, but it is not the end of legal issues for the school according to parties involved.

RISE is expected to open on schedule, with its first class of kindergarten students at 1 Social St. on Monday, Aug. 31. Silverstein did not grant the request for a preliminary injunction barring the school's opening filed by the Providence-based firm representing the plaintiffs in the suit, Donahue Barrett and Singal.

Still unresolved, however, are questions regarding whether or not it is legal for the school to operate in its current location, and other issues related to the ongoing litigation.

The suit, brought by the city of Woonsocket against RISE and co-defendants the Council of Elementary and Secondary Education, Acting Commissioner of Education David Abbott, and North Smithfield Town Administrator Paulette Hamilton, charges that the evaluation process for approving the facility was flawed, and that the proposed location is not properly zoned for school operations, among other complaints.

"I was disappointed but not surprised," Woonsocket City Council President Albert Brien said of the Tuesday decision, pointing out that the plaintiffs had a high burden of proof in seeking the temporary restraining order in a preliminary hearing on the issue - a final effort aimed at halting the new school before it opened.

"It's an uphill battle," Brien said. "You have to demonstrate to the court that in a full hearing you would prevail."

The city's attorneys had claimed that the school would do irreparable harm to the sending communities of North Smithfield, Burrillville and Woonsocket. The suit echoed critics of the school funding formula as it relates to charter schools in the state, charging that the facilities take away needed funding from conventional public education.

Woonsocket officials have estimated that the school will cost the city some $4 million by 2020 under the current formula, in which the money follows the child.

"We need to work with the General Assembly to put a permanent stop to this until we can get a firm handle on the finances," said North Smithfield Town Council President Robert Boucher. "The funding formula needs to be addressed."

The Woonsocket Teachers Guild and School Committee were initially listed as plaintiffs in the litigation, but in Silverstein's last ruling on the issue in July, he found that neither had sufficient legal standing, and stated that the towns of Burrillville and North Smithfield, meanwhile, were necessary parties.

Those two towns have since joined the plaintiff's side, but are not active parties in funding the ongoing litigation, while Hamilton, who is chairperson of the school's board of directors, was celebrating the decision as a win this week along with officials from RISE.

"The ruling this morning validates what I have always believed; that children should come first," Hamilton said. "It's not always easy to stay the course but when it's the right thing to do, it's imperative to keep the goal in sight."

The court also found that there was no inconsistency between the charter and bylaws of the town of North Smithfield and the role of Hamilton as chairperson of RISE Prep's board of directors. The suit had charged that Hamilton needed Town Council approval before signing on to the position, which it claimed amounted to a contract with financial implications.

"I was certain that the court would agree that I had not violated the Town Charter," Hamilton said, adding "I'll be very proud to shake the hands of our incoming scholars."

Katelyn Silva, a spokeswoman for the Rhode Island Mayoral Academies, said that while the litigation may continue, the ruling is a relief for the students and parents of charter school's incoming class.

"This is good news for our first class of kindergarten students who is ready to start school in less than a week," Silva said.

The school is expected to apply a slow growth model, adding one grade level of up to 81 students each year beginning with the current group, until it reaches full capacity serving 729 students in kindergarten through 8th grade in 2023.

In its first year, RISE filled all of the seats available to Woonsocket students, which make up 50 percent of enrollment, but did not attract the full remaining 50 percent from the outlying towns. As of Tuesday, Silva said 50 students were slated to start school on Monday.

Brien said Silverstein's decision kept the door open to a full hearing on the lawsuit, as well as separate action on zoning issue, and that he's confident the city can prevail.

RISE has signed a three-year lease to occupy the first floor and basement of a four-story Monument Square building, located in an urban commercial zoning district, known as "C1."

Another complaint for injunctive relief filed earlier this month by the city of Woonsocket points out that schools are not permitted in C1 zones.

"This matter is not in any way resolved at this time," said Brien of the school. "I feel the we can be victorious, especially on the zoning issue. That is much more definitive. We can establish irrefutably that the use they're establishing for that location is not permitted. I think that is the kind of evidence that a judge upon review will feel much more comfortable in granting us relief."

Boucher agreed.

"I think they are on firm legal ground as far as the zoning issue goes," the neighboring council president said. "I'm hopeful Woonsocket can prevail in this matter."

Silva has admitted that the case may continue, but added that if it does, "it's certainly going to be costly to taxpayers." RISE Head of School Rosalind Murphy said the stress of litigation has been difficult on the families and soon-to-be students.

"Our school is and will always be about giving scholars and families a quality, college preparatory choice for their public education," Murphy said. Today, we are grateful that choice was protected."

Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt also applauded Silverstein's decision.

"I am pleased with the decision, but more importantly, thrilled for the students and parents who have been waiting with anxiety over the last several weeks to learn if the kindergarten classes would begin," Baldelli-Hunt said. "I am an advocate for school reform, and have always believed that this lawsuit, authorized by the majority of the City Council at taxpayers' expense, was not wise nor justified given that the Council of Elementary and Secondary Education approved the RISE Mayoral Charter after public hearings and input.

"Since the City Council retained its own counsel to pursue this case without my support, it will be up to them to determine if they want to continue to spend time, resources and tax dollars to fight it," Baldelli-Hunt said. "In light of this most recent decision, I would hope that they reconsider."

The Woonsocket City Council has approved up to $25,000 to be spent in the ongoing litigation, and the teacher's guild also continues to help with legal costs. The North Smithfield School Committee voted last week to ask that community's Town Council to kick in funds, and has set aside $20,000 for the cause.

Brien said he's hopeful the zoning portion of the case will be heard within the next several days. The city had 21 days to respond to the zoning complaint with a final deadline of Wednesday, Aug. 26. As of The Breeze's print deadline, no response had been filed.

"We will have to sit with the other plaintiffs and consider how we are going to proceed with this," Brien said.


TA Hamilton, are you kidding your taking away funds from the children of North Smithfield the people your supposed to represent.WOW

Brien should enroll

RISE Head of School Rosalind Murphy said the stress of litigation has been difficult on the families and soon-to-be students.

Stress for 5 year olds because of litigation ?

At 5 years old the children should not be involved in hearing about these matters.

They should be enjoying playing outside with their friends and doing what 5 year olds do.

I hope the plaintiffs go forward with everything they can to stop this charter school and the children will thrive in Public Schools.

I noticed the word " Scholars " being used. Is that the new politically correct word now for students ?

Spoken like a real union rank and file teacher.

Citizen One

The following news release from Dan Gendron states the facts and truths. Great job. Here is the link for those that want to read it. Compliments of mywoonsocket.com


Thank you for the compliment.

I do believe the Unions is what made this country great and I also take my hat off to all the past and present teachers that teach our children.

God bless them for the job they do.

Craig A. Charbonneau
United States Marine Corps Veteran

PS. from all your posts you seem to have a hatred for union teachers.

How sad.............

Glad to see you finally agree with me.
"It's all about union dues and membership"

God Bless the poor taxpayer who have to pay these union.

Please do not put teachers in the same category as the hard working people working for greedy corporations.

Teachers, who strike against children and taxpayers are not the same as the hard working union's workers striking again a greedy corporation. just saying!!!!

Citizen One

I do not like hipergrits

Glad to see you finally agree with me.
"It's all about union dues and membership"

God Bless the poor taxpayer who have to pay these union.

Please do not put teachers in the same category as the hard working people working for greedy corporations.

Teachers, who strike against children and taxpayers are not the same as the hard working union's workers striking again a greedy corporation. just saying!!!!

Citizen One

You need to respect your elders, I'm sure mommy didn't bring you up to be disrespectful. Mr. Brein is a highly intelligent and respectable man, perhaps you can take some lessons from him.

As a union teacher I bet you support the NJ Union teacher who is keeping his job after being late 111 (One Hundred Eleven) time in the past two years. His base salary $90,000.

In a charter school, He would have been FIRED.

Just saying!!!!

Citizen One

The teachers have a No Strike clause in their contract now, so guess that's not an issue Citizen One. Also, why are you jumping all over Mr. Charbonneau, I can assure you he is not a union teacher in the city of Woonsocket. People are entitled to their opinion it doesn't mean you are always right. Feel free to follow in a teacher's footsteps for a month. As for the NJ case I can assure you that would not happen here. You do not know the situation, and they were not all in one year. Excessive absolutely but administration should have followed protocol by going through the proper steps and they did not, he was not given due cause. An example verbal warning, written warning, suspension, possible termination. Day care providers without any educational degree make more than teachers, if you can read this thank a teacher, probably a union teacher. Thank you Mr. Charbonneau for serving our country and God bless you.

Yes, you are right and your post is well written.
I am grateful for all our brave service men and women for serving our country.
We would not have this opportunity to express our opinion (right or wrong) if it was not for them. Thank you.

Citizen One

Citizen One- I am not a Union Teacher. I am a 100% Service Connected Disabled Marine Corps Veteran injured in the Defense of our Great Nation and I still serve the Marine Corps in another capacity.

I think I am entitled to my opinion on any and all matters locally, nationally and world wide.

Thank you Rcrane3232 for your comment and it was my pleasure to serve you and your family.

If you can read this, thank a teacher.
If you can read this in English, thank a Marine.

( it's just a saying we have :))

God Bless.....

I love your last post. I could not express my views (right or wrong) if it was not for people like you.
I respect your right to express your opinions as I know you respect mine.
I had many union's teacher in the union's schools that should have never been in a class room.
I remember September 1991, when the North Smithfield union teachers put themselves first and went out on an illegal strike against the taxpayers and children in town. Yes this was 24 years ago but illegal strikes still exist in RI.
I also had many excellent teachers but it's the union protected bad teachers that I do not respect.
The union and their elected councilmen/women are oppose to this because:
1. Carter schools are not union and bad teachers will be let go.
2. It will create competition
3. The taxpayers will save money by eliminating union teachers that are no longer needed.
4. Students will have a real choice in education.(not everyone can afford or want to send their children to a religious school)
5. If you want to know the real cost of your union teachers, do this:
a) How much of the school committee's budget goes to the union teachers salary?
b) Divide salary by union teachers equal cost per teacher.
c. Do not forget their pension (paid in part by the town)
6. Charter schools can give extra help to children who need it, union schools cannot per order of the union. (It makes the other teachers look bad)

Do not support union propaganda, It's all about union dues and membership.

Citizen One

Regardless of the way the Mayor put this through, I find the way the council is going about this (at this point of the year) really ugly. There are kids and teachers who are expecting to start school on Monday, and these council members are threatening to turn their lives upside down for a bunch of political bull-malarkey. I am making note of the people pushing for the last minute closing of this school, and will definitely never vote for them, and most likely help campaign for whomever opposes them next. Ridiculous.

Personguy , It's ridiculous were allowing this charter school to make their own rules and using children as a pawn in their quest. Do you know how political that school is going to be to get accepted as a scholar (LOL)if to many kids try to get in. This whole thing stinks of politics.

Most charter school teachers start at a charter and move on to better jobs.The only people that stay with charter schools are the administrators because they make more than regular principals at other schools.

Please move to North Smithfield and represent us.

Looks like another union yes man to me or maybe you just have family in this union?????

Do the teacher's union presidents get a bonus for keeping the membership up or increasing membership and dues ??????

Again. "it's membership and dues"

I do not have these answers, but I would be grateful if you could answer these questions.

Citizen One

Out of respect I will answer you, NO there is no bonus for increasing membership or dues.

I was just going to post the same thing but you beat me to it. There is such a large turnover in charter schools it is crazy. They usually last a max of 2-3 years and then are so burnt out they leave. Many are so discouraged by the experience that they leave their teaching careers permanently. Their building principal is making more than a public high school or middle school principal and she has to supervise 2-3 teachers, a secretary, and 50 students. Our high school and middle school administrators are in charge of thousands of students. Our elementary principals who do not make what the principal of RISE makes have usually around 400-500 students and their staff to worry about. Statistically according to the National Charter School Research Project charter schools lose 20-25% of their teachers each year.

Thank you

Citizen One

Your a Retard!

you are too.

Citizen One

Now the truth comes out, everyone know what type of person you are.

Thank you for telling the town what you are.

If you dish it out, be a man and take it.

Citizen One

Jesus loves you

Cat got your tongue, you must be too busy to answer because you are trying to create a new Valley Breeze account. I think mommy needs to fight her own battles not through her little boy. Get a job my friend so you can keep busy instead of creeping around stalking what the people of the community post.

Why is it when politicians are in office to long they think they are important. When they first start they want to change the world and after a while they want to own the world. What goes around comes around. just saying

Someone states a 2-3 yr. turnover rate in charter schools, yet states no data or facts to back up any of these statements, but when we look at the WED Superintendent and Financial Director positions, these positions have been a open turnstile with folks coming and going according to the next/past deficit or financial crisis the WED has encountered, literally costing the tax payers of Woonsocket tens of millions of dollars over last 4 -5 years!

Laughable at best, amazing at worst!

I see facts and figures being thrown out there that “Woonsocket” funds $13,000+ per student, again funny, seeing how the City of Woonsocket actually only contributes 20 – 25% to every student’s cost, one of the lowest taxable education contribution rates in the state of RI, and then the City Council/WED complains when the state, who makes up the other 70 – 75% of the yearly WED student tuition, decides to open another charter school in Woonsocket. (Can you take a hint WED?)

Another “funny” fact is that the WED system has lost close to 200 students over that last 4 – 5 years, (RIDE published web-site statistics) but WED funding has actually gone up in these years?

Really? But if we lose 40-50 elementary students, the city is going to lose MILLIONS of dollars? Again amazing! What FUD! (Fear, uncertainty and doubt). The unions are really good at propagating this crap.

Funny how folks in Woonsocket really don’t understand that without the state, the WED would collapse!

But screw the state, right! We (the teachers union) deserve our union pay, yearly compensation strikes, 20 + sick day packages, 6 hr. work days, exorbitant medical/non-contributing pension packages, and summer vacations to boot.

I know, here comes the Union response, do my union teachers job for a day right? NOT!

Tell you what; if you (the teachers union) are that petty, quit your cushy “union” job, go into the “REAL Commercial” workplace, and find out what it’s like to work on a REAL performance appraisal basis. I think you’ll be really “non-union” surprised…..

Almost every High Tech company out there is looking for “Technical Educators”, so have at it….. Go for it….. Find out what it’s like to work in the real world and at a real corporate accountable job…….

And FYI, how about you walk a mile in the “High Tech World’s” shoes, you’ll find out what the term “You’re Fired for lack of performance” really means, when you turn in 59% graduation rates!.........

My personal not union response would be if you feel teaching is such an easy career go and get your Master's Degree in a field you can teach. I was in a non-union upper management position for 13 years before becoming a teacher, I started teaching in my 40's. I've been on both sides of the fence. Each occupation has its positives and negatives. One thing that could never happen in any other career except teaching is making a difference in a child's life through their education. I come home after working way more hours than you can imagine feeling good about myself. Knowing I am helping mold a human being into a productive person, having a positive impact on someone, it's a feeling I never got in my other career which I made twice the money at. "If you can read this thank a teacher, if you Can read this in English thank a Marine"