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Additional Documents Filed

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Attorneys for Conserve Community and the individual plaintiffs have filed a supplement to the motion for an emergency temporary injunction. The supplement accompanies an affidavit from ISACS, and raises issues regarding accreditation as well as the role Conserve School and its students play in the community.

Attorneys for Conserve School have filed a motion to dismiss, arguing the plaintiffs lack standing to sue the corporation and the trust; that the trust does not require a four year college-prep program; that the conflict of interest claim is invalid because the conflicts were acknowledged and expressly authorized by James Lowenstine; and that there is insufficient evidence to support claims of intentional misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation, or fraudulent inducement.

The briefs and the ISACS affidavit are attached to this article.


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Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 April 2009 22:11
 

Court Hearing: Now!

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Hearing on Motion For Emergency Temporary Injunction

Vilas County Courthouse in Eagle River

Occurring Right Now

Visit http://www.twitter.com/conservetrial for live updates from Erty Seidel and other contributors present at the hearing.


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Last Updated on Friday, 06 March 2009 15:47
 

Twitter!

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Some of the attending students will be following the trial and posting updates on Twitter. The feed will be available at twitter.com/conservetrial. If you have a twitter account, you can have the updates sent to your phone by SMS. If you don't have a twitter account, you can still follow the progress on that website or through that website's RSS feed.

If you have a phone with internet capabilities and are interested in helping keep the feed updated, please email ertysdl at gmail dot com.

--Erty


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Last Updated on Friday, 06 March 2009 15:16
 

Court Hearing Tomorrow Afternoon

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Hearing on Motion For Emergency Temporary Injunction

Friday, March 6 - 1:30 PM

Vilas County Courthouse in Eagle River

We are hoping to fill the courtroom with supporters for this most important hearing. If you are in the Eagle River area Friday afternoon, please show your support by attending the hearing.


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Last Updated on Friday, 06 March 2009 15:16
 

Flyers for Friday's Hearing

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Attached are flyers published by Conserve Community for Friday's court hearing. Please print and circulate them widely, as we are hoping to have a massive show of support on Friday afternoon.
Attachments:
Download this file (CC flyer -hearing final.pdf)CC flyer -hearing final.pdf[ ]171 Kb
Download this file (small cc hearing flyer.pdf)small cc hearing flyer.pdf[ ]144 Kb

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Last Updated on Friday, 06 March 2009 15:16
 

Media Alert from Conserve Community

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The following media alert was issued Monday by Conserve Community regarding the motion for an emergency temporary injunction:


Emergency Temporary Injunction Filed Regarding
Internationally-Recognized Conserve School

A hearing for an emergency temporary injunction has been set for Friday, March 6th at 1:30 PM at the Vilas County Circuit Court in Eagle River, Wis., where arguments will be heard regarding a temporary injunction to establish whether the Court should order Conserve School to continue its current four-year college preparatory high school until such time that the other issues in the plaintiffs complaint are litigated. If successful in obtaining the temporary injunction, a hearing for a permanent injunction will likely take place in the next 90 days concerning a restructuring of the trust and school's board, among other issues.

The injunction comes after the January 30, 2009, announcement that the Conserve School would discontinue operating its highly successful, internationally recognized four-year college preparatory high school as of this June. On February 20, 2009 a lawsuit was filed to 1) dispute the board's claim of the economic downturn as the reasoning for the school closing, citing $178 million in existing assets for operation of the school; 2) reform the Conserve School board of directors, alleging a conflict of interest due to their dual roles on the Board of Directors for the Conserve School Corporation, the Conserve School Trust, as well as Central Steel and Wire, a Chicago-based company in which the majority of the trust has been invested; and 3) seek injunctive relief that would keep Conserve School operating as a four-year institution.

For more information: Marie Maas, 414-390-5500


STUDENTS AND PARENTS OF INTERNATIONALLY-RECOGNIZED
PREP SCHOOL ISSUE LAWSUIT AGAINST BOARD OF TRUSTEES

Investigation Mobilized on Closing of Conserve School;
Trustees' Fiduciary Practices under Scrutiny

Land O' Lakes, Wis. - Conserve Community LLC announced today the filing of a lawsuit against Conserve School Corporation, a non-profit organization the owns and operates Conserve School, an internationally-recognized four-year college preparatory boarding school in Land O' Lakes, Wis. with a focus on environmental studies. School officials recently announced the closing of the school as it currently operates to transition to a one-semester program beginning in fall, citing the economic downturn as the cause for the change. The school serves students from across the globe in grades 9 - 12, with more than 25 percent of its enrollment comprised of international students. The program has been continually ranked among the top 20 boarding schools in the U.S. since its opening in 2002. The decision to close the four-year school will result in layoffs of approximately 75 percent of faculty and staff beginning in March.

Violations of trust bylaws and skepticism towards reasoning of an economic downturn as the cause for the school closing are key issues cited in the lawsuit by Conserve Community LLC, a coalition of more than 200 stakeholders including students, parents and alumni.

"Conserve School was established in 1996 with a generous endowment of a quarter of a billion dollars, and today is still worth $178 million," said Bill Meier of Conserve Community LLC. "Many schools operate on one tenth of Conserve's endowment. Even with the current operating budget, the school could afford to continue for more than 150 years, so there is clearly a red flag in this abrupt decision to close the school."

The Conserve School Trust was established by the late James R. Lowenstine, who stipulated that if Conserve School became financially non-viable, the assets should be sold and the proceeds distributed to Culver Military Academy, which Lowenstine attended.

"We believe that the new one-semester program structure is in violation of the trust," explained Meier. "With environmental education and awareness a national priority, our hope is for Conserve School to continue offering its successful four-year program to students around the globe.

Another key issue raised in the lawsuit is the accountability for fiduciary practices of the Conserve School Board of Trustees. The officers of the Conserve School Corporation are also the trustees of the Conserve School Trust and the board of directors for Chicago-based Central Steel and Wire. More than 77 percent of the trust is invested in Central Steel and Wire, with the aremaining 22.5 percent of the trust in other investments. The 77.5 percent of the trust's investment in Central Steel and Wire amounts to approximately $138 million, which gives the board of directors 59.02 percent of the voting stock.

"There is a clear conflict of interest among the trustees," noted Meier. "They hold concurrent positions as both trustees for the Conserve School Trust and board of directors for the company in which the majority of the trust is invested. Restructuring the Conserve School board and officers to a board that is typical of most other public and private schools is necessary to ensure accountability and long-term viability."


ABOUT CONSERVE COMMUNITY LLC

Conserve Community LLC is a group of over 200 stakeholders committed to the longevity of Conserve School, including parents, students, alumni and community members. The group began as a grassroots effort in February 2009 to seek accountability for the board of trustees for the fiduciary responsibilities of the non-profit organization to manage the trust in the best interest of its beneficiary, the school. The purpose of this group is to see Conserve School continue as a four-year college-preparatory program and to ensure its long-term viability through restructuring of the Conserve School Board and Officers to a Board that is typical of most other public and private schools. For more information, please visit www.bringbackconserve.com.
<http://www.bringbackconserve.com/>

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Last Updated on Friday, 06 March 2009 15:17
 

A Letter from Conserve Community

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Dear Friends,

As you may know, on January 30, 2009, the Conserve School Corporation informed the community of its intentions to end the 4-year college preparatory high school program, and replace it with a semester-only program starting next fall.

On February 20th, the Conserve Community LLC and over 20 families of Conserve School students filed suit alleging a conflict of interest in the dual roles of the Trustees, and seeking injunctive relief that would keep Conserve School operating as a four-year institution and reform the Conserve School Corporation Board of Directors.

There is a hearing for an emergency temporary injunction this Friday, March 6th at 1:30pm In Vilas County Circuit Court in Eagle River in front of the Honorable Neal Nielsen. The sole purpose of this hearing is for the Court to decide whether it should order Conserve to stay open next year for all four grades. If successful, this would put a halt to the transition while the underlying issues are litigated. A hearing for a permanent injunction will likely take place in the next 90 days concerning a restructuring of the trust and school's boards, among other issues.

Part of the Court's consideration in deciding the temporary injunction includes the good of the community. Wisconsin Statute 701.10(a) (2) provides that:

This Court has the power to modify or terminate a charitable trust, taking "into account current and future community needs in the general field of charity within which the original charitable purpose falls, other charitable interest of the settlor, the amount of principal and income available under the trust and other relevant factors." (emphasis added)

Community members can help by signing a statement that demonstrates to the Court the current and future needs of the community for a four-year school like Conserve. Please fill in the affidavit expressing why you believe maintaining Conserve as a four-year school meets the needs of Land O'Lakes and/or Vilas County and/or Wisconsin and/or the United States and/or the world. Use personal stories and facts if you have them.

The Conserve Community is strongly urging anyone wishing to support the efforts to preserve Conserve School as a four year college preparatory high school to file this affidavit of support, and/or attend the March 6th hearing in Vilas County.

1) Attached to this email is an affidavit form. Complete it or attach your letter.

2) Go to a local notary public. These can often be found at your local bank, library, and real estate agency. Sign it in the presence of the notary and have then notarize it.

3) Scan and email, or FAX, the statement you wrote (which is also signed) and the completed affidavit to:

Attorney Kirk Reese
Fax #715-369-5650
or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

4) Mail the original affidavit (which has the notary's stamp) to:
Reese Law Office
P.O. Box A
Rhinelander, WI 54501
Attn: Kirk Reese

Thank you for your time and support.

For More Information:
www.bringbackconserve.com

Attachments:
Download this file (Affidavit Community.doc)Affidavit Community.doc[ ]26 Kb

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Last Updated on Friday, 06 March 2009 15:16
 

Availability of Bring Back Conserve Website

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The Bring Back Conserve website is getting a security upgrade. Though unlikely, there may be brief outages across the next 72 hours where the site is not reachable at all. If possible, any such outages will be scheduled between 3:00 and 6:00 AM EST, but it is conceivable that the website may be unreachable for brief periods throughout the weekend.
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Last Updated on Monday, 02 March 2009 06:24
 


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Donate to Conserve Community

Conserve Community has opened an account to accept donations for legal and other expenses. You can donate quickly, easily, and securely by clicking one of the buttons below. Donations are handled through Paypal, but an account is not required - just a credit/debit card!

Want to donate anonymously? Our donation system now allows you to include a note if you want to keep your name hidden in donor recognition efforts.


One-time Donation - Choose Your Own Amount:


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Conserve Community requests that you consult your accountant regarding tax deductions for these donations.

Your donations will help Conserve Community continue advocating for responsibility and transparency. Thank you for supporting Conserve Community!

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