opinion Newport Rhode Island

Written and submitted by Citizens Exploring School Unification

Citizens Exploring School Unification (CESU) was shocked and dismayed by the actions of the Middletown Town Council at its June 22nd meeting when, due to an obscure and debatable legal technicality, it refused to conduct a Public Hearing regarding the CESU Ordinance/Petition signed by the required number of Middletown voters. “The action the Council took degrades the reputation of good government and the democratic values we cherish in our town,” said Dick Adams, President of CESU. “The voice of the public has once again been thwarted.”

The “legal technicality” offered by the Town Solicitor was that the Petition language should have been presented as a Resolution rather than an Ordinance, despite the fact that he reviewed and made edits to the original document after CESU attorneys presented it to him six months prior to the petition being made available for voter signatures. In fact, CESU was notified by the Town Clerk’s office on June 2 that the required 10% of the registered voter signatures, nearly 1,200 in total, had been met and certified and that the CESU Ordinance/Petition could be filed. However, the Council’s surprise rejection of the petition at the last second now removes the opportunity to let voters decide in November if they’d like to learn what benefits school unification with Newport could offer from both an academic and fiscal standpoint.

“We’re at a loss as to why the council doesn’t feel a need to be responsive to the voters and to the educational needs of our children,” said Adams. “CESU is far from finished working to improve the failing education systems in both Newport and Middletown.” 

CESU pledged to continue to collaborate with forward thinking citizens determined to improve the underperforming academic performance of our schools and offering an ambitious curriculum, including vocational education career pathways, that only a unified school system could provide.

“Not even 1,183 signatures could make the Middletown Town Counselors treat a citizen’s initiative with respect. We intend to hold the elected officials accountable in the upcoming election for their disregard of the voters’ voices. Why are these people in office if they refuse to listen to the people they should be representing?” questioned Adams.

For more information and to learn the benefits of a unified high school, go to CESU.News