The Contoocook Valley School District says its plans for outdoor learning were derailed when a tent company it hired failed to get the needed permits.
The nine-town school district based in Peterborough is suing Monadnock Tent & Event in Greenfield over the $200,000-plus bill.
“Defendant continues to refuse to refund ConVal for its overpayment and has refused to provide restitution for ConVal’s additional losses,” Dean Eggert, ConVal’s attorney, wrote in the lawsuit filed last week in Hillsborough County Superior Court.
In August, ConVal hired Monadnock Tent & Event, owned by John Hopkins, to put up 85 commercial tents to allow teachers in the district to provide outdoor learning. Outdoor learning is a strategy being used throughout the state as students return to school amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the lawsuit, ConVal paid $228,409, half the total bill, for Hopkins to put up the tents and provide all the necessary paperwork to get permits from the town.
Tents with an area of more than 400 square feet on public land require safety inspections and permits, according to the lawsuit. Eggert wrote that Hopkins provided the paperwork for only two of the tents, and that some of the tents he set up did not pass a safety inspection.
“To date, despite ConVal’s numerous requests and independent efforts to clarify defendant’s contractual responsibilities, defendant has provided none of the required documentation, or any other acceptable documentation for any tent, other than the two Aztec tents which were unable to pass inspection,” Eggert wrote.
ConVal Superintendent Kimberly Rizzo-Saunders did not respond to requests for comment. Hopkins could not be reached, and the website for Monadnock Tent & Event on Friday said the business is closed due to COVID-19.
ConVal ended up erecting dozens of smaller tents that did not require permits from the town, spending an additional $36,000.
Hopkins’ attorney, Silas Little, wrote to ConVal seeking the rest of the money he claimed is owed to Hopkins. According to Little, it is the district that is failing to live up to the contract. “I suggest that you review the written agreement between Monadnock Tent & Event,” Little wrote.
ConVal is seeking enhanced damages.