School Board Apologizes for Public Comments

April 24, 2015

 

by Lynne Ober

Halfway through public input at the last Hudson School Board meeting, school board member Stacey Milboeur said, “I wanted to apologize on behalf of the board for the comments made.”

Hudson Police Chief Jay Lavoie had been talking to the board about comments at the previous board meeting that indicated that the Hudson Police, Fire and School District had significant communication problems.  He said that he listened carefully to the board before investigating and that he was speaking for Hudson Fire Chief Buxton, who had been unable to attend the meeting.

“I want the community to know that there are no communication issues between Hudson Police and Fire.  Chief Buxton and I speak almost every day and even on the weekends.  There are also no communication issues with the Hudson School District.”

Lavoie detailed the process used by his department when working with one or more members of the school district and explained how they always kept the superintendent in the loop.

“I just want to say again so that the community knows.  We do not have communication issues.”  At that point Milboeur apologized on behalf of the board.

School board member Ben Nadeau said, “I guess the way I put it wasn’t put out there correctly.”  Nadeau said that he discovered that it was a third-party contractor and not the police department that had not been responsive.  “I didn’t understand at the time,” he concluded, “but I understand now.”

The other community input was also critical of the board and the way it was conducting business.  Hudson resident Laurie Jasper asked about nominations to not rehire, how many of these nominations there were and at what public meeting this was discussed.  She said she knew that some letters had gone out after the April 6 school board meeting, but also knew that she was not discussed at the meeting.  “RSA 91-A dictates the way a board does business and the public’s right to know,” she reminded the board.

Superintendent Bryan Lane tried to explain that the contract states that teachers who are not notified that they will not be rehired by April 15 are automatically given contracts.  “So I emailed the board, got three responses and then sent out the letter.”

Jasper was not pleased with this.  “So the board is now doing business by email?” she asked.  She also pointed out that the letters went out two days after the previous school board meeting and that the teachers’ contract was not new, so this provision was well established.  “Did you take a vote?  Why didn’t you do this at the school board meeting that had just been held?  You knew about these teachers at that time.”

Although Lane tried to soothe her fears, he was unable to answer why he had failed to bring this important item to the board and why it had to be done via email.  Although he said the email could be provided to the public, it was not part of the public school board packet, which did contain other correspondence.

“I am very disappointed and think this was very underhanded,” said Jasper.

Lane said he’d sent out six teacher letters informing teachers they would not have a contract and then said he also sent out 130 paraprofessional letters as well because the district didn’t know how much Title 1 money would be available and did not know how much they would get from their IDEA grant.

Jasper concluded that the board should operate lawfully and should follow the state Right to Know Law and not try to hide actions from the public.  “The public should know because the staff involved have friends in Hudson and that communication is vital.”