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Home Blog Contributor Articles Wisconsin Attorney General Files Motion To Intervene (Updated)

Wisconsin Attorney General Files Motion To Intervene (Updated)

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The Wisconsin Attorney General's office is filing several motions today to intervene in the litigation. The Attorney General is seeking to appoint recently retired Supreme Court Justice Wilcox the conservator of Conserve School Corporation to provide recommendations to the Court as to the proper course of action for the future of the school. In addition, the Attorney General asks the court to issue a preliminary injunction requiring Conserve School to continue operation as a four-year, college preparatory school while the Trust is reconstructed by the conservator.

Alleged in the AG's filings:

  • The trustees made the decision to reduce funding to Conserve School to avoid selling the Trust's CSTW stock because, in part, it might lead to the loss of a controlling stake in the company.
  • A loss of a controlling stake in CSTW might jeopardize the employment or directorship of the trustees.
  • The decision to reduce funding to Conserve School was "made under circumstances where personal interests of the individual defendants were in actual or potential conflict with their interests as trustees."
  • "The competing and conflicting interests of the individual defendants as directors of the Corporation, trustees of the Trust, and employees and directors of the Company, have rendered them incapable of exercising independent judgment as to the affairs of the Corporation in matters effecting the Trust and the Company."
  • The Corporation, if governed by an independent board with undivided loyalty and acting with reasonable diligence, would have challenged the decision by the Trust to reduce funding rather than to sell a portion of company stock and would have engaged in "reasonable efforts to obtain alternative funding... so that its continued operations were not solely dependant on gifts from the Trust and the economic performance of the Company."
  • The defendants failed to protect "Conserve School and the Corporation's rights as the primary beneficiary of the Trust" leading to the Culver lawsuit.

The filings are all attached to this article.

This is a promising step in the litigation. The Attorney General alleges many of the same things as Conserve Community and the individual plaintiffs did in their complaint. This is a testament to the validity and the strength of the allegations put forth by attorneys for the plaintiffs.

While the last few weeks have seen a lull of activity surrounding the case, this is expected to change with the intervention of the Attorney General's office and the next hearing scheduled for a week away. Stay tuned for updates.

WI DOJ Press Release:  http://www.doj.state.wi.us/news/2009/nr041409_02.asp

Comments

avatar mmort
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:) now we've got a fair fight.
avatar ConserveConserveSchool
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Unless HUGE changes (from the top) are made, I won't be sending a student back.. I'm at the end of my rope with this. Had enough of it. Can't believe what they are still putting kids through after dashing their dreams. I stood up and took my oath at convocation, don't see administration following through on theirs.
I do hope it all works out for everyone that can still keep their jobs. It won't be the same w/o Steve and Jill Graf, though.
avatar mmort
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Well I can tell you with some certainty that if either our case or the AG's case goes through then there will be quite significant changes at the top. The main goal that we have (and this is written in the AG's case as well) is to separate the school from the trustees completely in order to ensure that the school can make independent decisions. I predict that would not only shake up the school's overseers but also its on campus leadership (the headmaster most of all - as he was appointed by the trustees).

I can assure you that I will be pushing quite strongly for huge changes at Conserve if either case wins. I will not be happy until "they" (those who you speak of) are completely thrown from the school. "They" have taken away civil liberties from students, failed to address sustainability on campus and consistently mismanaged the school in ways that baffle me. "They" have systematically rooted out all opposition within the staff and expelled or driven out a multitude of students that would have been perfect fits for the CS "dream" had it actually been realized.

I have spent years pushing for change already, but never have I felt this close to actually seeing it. The prospect of rebuilding Conserve School is something I could only dream about before. While it has certainly not come true yet (and very well may not), the next week will be eventful, and if the tides turn our way I will be there (with many others I presume) pushing for the Conserve School that we have all always dreamed of, the one that first hooked us and brought our lives together in such a unique place.
avatar Derek
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It is nice that the AG has gotten involved but I don't know about putting the ethically challenged judge Wilcox in as custodian. No experience in education, party hack, and ethically challenged (remember his campaign manager was convicted of breaking federal rules)
avatar fluteplayer101
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You don't need to be an expert in education to look at the issues - especially when the economic impact on the area can be taken into account. This is what I have been praying for, and what the school needs - an outside person to put the needs of the school first. I don't think the AG would ask for an immediate injunction so the Conservator would recommend changing the school later.

We still have no idea where our daughter will end up next year (yes, we're very tired of the unneeded stress), and even if Steve & Jill stay Conserve is going to be very different next year. Now the school has a strong parent/community group supporting it. It is truly becoming a premier high school we can all be proud of, with the knowledge that when our side prevails, we won't have to go through something like this ever again.
avatar mmort
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Judge Wilcox claimed to have had no part in the campaign finance issue, but he was fined - we can interpret that as we wish.
He was also a republican nominee for the supreme court (and has a conservative record), which is slightly disconcerting for those of us who are polarized :) but we can't always get what we want, if anything it probably gives this more legitimacy.

I am not surprised however that he doesn't have a background in education. As fluteplayer stated, the judge will be looking much more closely at the law itself (something he is supposedly good at), separating Conserve from the Trustees and then assessing the economic condition that Conserve is in. The powers that he is actually granted by the court are yet to come, so we will have to wait and see, but I feel the AG is serious about keeping Conserve School running (it sure seems that way in the documentation) - and he would have put some thought into this appointment (we will see if he is even appointed).

Either way I think we can all agree that our odds have been much worse in the past.
avatar javabytes87
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The custodian is supposed to navigate the legal issues and ensure the interests of the School are being protected. Wilcox, though he may be a conservative with no experience in education, is surely qualified to do that. Since he will have the power to retain attorneys to represent Conserve's interests, I assume he likewise will have the power to retain consultants as necessary. I can't see him unilaterally deciding on the details of how exactly to run the school; it's my belief that his job is to ensure that the people who do so are free from conflicts of interest and are actually committed to protecting the school's interests.

The Attorney General's complaint states the board is riddled with conflicts of interest. I would expect to see the Conserve School board restructured to include individuals independent of CSTW. Similarly, since the Attorney General also pointed out that Conserve School failed to challenge CSTW and the Trust on the decision to cut funding instead of selling stock and failed to seek alternative sources of funding, I can't see how Stefan would be allowed to remain in his capacity as headmaster because those are primarily his duties. He failed to defend the interests of the school as much as the conflict riddled Trustees did.
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Last Updated on Tuesday, 14 April 2009 20:39  

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