After meeting in closed session Tuesday afternoon regarding the judge's ruling in favor of Signature Properties, the school district briefly reported on discussion, but will wait on legal counsel before confirming further action.
Jim Ott, school board president, read the following statement at the end of the closed session:
"We ask the public and our community to understand that several legal issues are pending in this case," he said. "Because the judge's ruling is tentative, we have directed our legal counsel to respond to that ruling. After the judge's final decision, we will be better able to determine what next steps are most appropriate to take on behalf of students."
"We believe that litigating this matter was truly the appropriate and responsible step to take," he continued. "We continue to stand by that decision."
The litigation between Signature Properties, the developer of Ruby Hill, and the school district was over a supposed agreement to build Neal Elementary School, the 10th and final elementary school in the district, in the Vineyard Corridor.
Two residents, Julie Testa and Meribeth Detweiler, spoke before the board about the litigation. Both had followed the Neal Elementary School process since the beginning and were disappointed with the ruling.
Testa said Wednesday she couldn't help but feel "a little I told you so" after the ruling, since she never supported the second contract.
"Lozano Smith used the term 'iron clad,'" she said about the second contract that was called into question and then deemed by the judge to be unenforceable.
"People are looking at it today having lost," Testa continued. "It so important to point out that anyone who was a part of the process knew what was intended. It would have seemed negligent to have walked away."
At the meeting, Detweiler spoke specifically to Trustee Pat Kernan with her disappointment in his involvement as a trustee and an attorney, saying he didn't keep his commitment to use his expertise to help the district.
Both women also voiced their disappointment in Signature Properties as well as the district's legal representation in Lozano Smith, who was involved in the initial contract process. During the court case, Stubbs & Leone represented the district.
"Honestly, I don't think it's fair to be as critical of pursuing the righteousness of that agreement because it was very clear what the intent was with that agreement," Testa said. "I think I feel justified in criticizing a good amount of incompetence that lost Neal School."
While the timing of the meeting was on a workday afternoon, it may not have hindered public comment. Ott and Superintendent John Casey said they had not received any calls or emails on the subject before or after the meeting. Casey said the timing was simply the earliest time the board could get together.
Trustee Chris Grant was late to the meeting and missed hearing the public comment, but was present in the closed session.
Trustee Steve Brozosky was absent from the entire meeting. His home is nearby the Neal School site and he refrained from participating due to a potential conflict of interest, according to Casey.
An agenda item will be included in the school board's final meeting of the school year at 7 p.m. June 25.