Submitted by Louise Dinsmore of Richmond – co-founder of Chariho Forgotten Taxpayers 


At least one day before the Chariho School Committee was even scheduled to vote on a new vice chair, Karen Reynolds was identified the winner in the District’s Annual Report. Reynold’s picture and new title of vice-chair was displayed alongside the pictures and names of other members. Funny though, the vote for vice-chair had not yet taken place. When a school committee member asked for justification of this PRIOR TO THE VOTE, the answer was supplied: a simple proofreading mistake…. Really? (The Annual Report was then quickly revised listing Reynolds as a member without the vice-chair title). 

At the scheduled meeting on August 8th, the school committee was obligated to choose from among the four Richmond representatives, as the position alternates between the three towns. Larry Phelps nominated Patricia Pouliot: the highest vote getter in the previous election, and it was seconded. But no opportunity was allowed for discussion, and when I raised my hand requesting to be recognized, I was told that the public could not comment. 

Had I been given the opportunity to speak, I would have reminded Jessica Purcell and her surrogates on the school committee that according to their own reasoning during the Purcell vs. Clay Johnson case, Pouliot should be chosen for vice chair as she was the highest vote getter in the last election. Pouliot received 1,549 votes during the November 2022 election, with more votes than Kathryn Colasante, more votes than Jessica Purcell and exactly 1,546 more votes than Karen Reynolds. You see, Reynolds was appointed to the School Committee by the Richmond Town Council in November 2021 resulting from a vacancy. Reynolds received just 3 Council votes and was not elected by Richmond voters. The only choice for Vice Chair to reflect the will and spirit of the voters was Pouliot. 

After pounding this community for months and months about “respecting the will of the people” and not operating “politically” I watched with special interest now that Purcell, in particular, and other members of this committee were in a similar position as the town council they lambasted incessantly. Would they operate now according to their own rhetoric? Surprise, surprise, Pouliot’s nomination was voted down by party line. 

Purcell, in her very first act as a member of this body voted against Pouliot – the highest vote getter. Karen Reynolds was then nominated and seconded. There was brief discussion, which was not afforded to Pouliot. Purcell and all of her cohorts of complaint voted along party lines in favor of a member who, in their own words of outrage “was simply appointed and never knocked on a single door.” Purcell and her liberal school committee colleagues had a chance to show if they really believed their own rhetoric. Turns out they didn’t. And was the Reynolds “election” a fait accompli as predicted by the Annual Report page? If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck…

Louise D. Dinsmore

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