Will Bryan Lane be Back for the Next School Year?October 3, 2014 by Len Lathrop
If the Hudson School Board had their way, would Superintendent Bryan Lane be leading SAU 81 at this time? What happened in the school board non-public session under RSA 91-A:3 II (ABC) held on June 2, 2014? Maybe six people know and they can’t talk? The board did vote during their next meeting to seal minutes of the non-public session on June 2 for 25 years. Many of you will be here then, but if I am, will I care or will you care? But today we care and what we can tell you as fact is about the situation might only be one, two or three sentences.
Rumors have been circulating most of the summer that Lane’s contract wasn’t renewed, but they were just rumors. After what the HLN found out was going on in the Litchfield School District, we felt we should ask about Hudson. And as the paper hit the street last week, several people stopped HLN staff members to talk about Hudson. No one had any facts, only a lot of read-between-the-lines conversations.
When asked, Superintendent Lane has stated, “I have a contract until June 2015 with the Hudson School District. That is all I can say.”
School Board Chairman Laura Bisson has concurred with Lane’s statement. The superintendent’s original contract that ran from the 16th of April 2012 to the 13th of June 2014 is over…or is it? This is a public document and was released to the HLN last week. Paragraph 6 is worth printing for you for several reasons, yes, we have gone past the three sentences of explanation …
Paragraph 6 – Renewal of Contract – “This Agreement shall annually be automatically renewed for a period of one year on the same terms and conditions of the second year of this Agreement unless the Hudson School Board, at least one year before the end of the original two-year term of this Agreement, gives written notice of non-renewal to the Superintendent of Schools or offers him or her a new contract on terms no less favorable than this contract. After that time, the contract will continue to be automatically renewed for an additional year, on an annual basis, in accordance with this paragraph. During any period by which contract is automatically extended pursuant to this paragraph, the Superintendent of Schools is entitled to written notice of non-renewal at least twelve months (no later than June 30) prior to the end of such term or this contract will automatically be renewed for another one-year term. In the event of non-renewal, the Superintendent of Schools is entitled to make a formal presentation to the Hudson School Board.”
If you read between the lines, that is where Lane and the Hudson School Board stand relative to Lane’s employment: one-year notice of non-renewal. That raises more questions. If this was decided in a non-public session under RSA 91-A:3 II (ABC), any votes taken during non-public must be reported in public within 72 hours of the vote by law. All the minutes of meetings after the June 2 meeting have been reviewed and there is no mention of any votes. However, Lane knows where he stands with his contract, so there must have been a vote. Why at least isn’t there a record of the vote?
The HLN has, under NH RSA 91-A (“the Right to Know Law”), has requested all written communication between the superintendent and the school district about the employment contract for May, June and July. The HLN has been advised that our request has been sent from Lane to the school district’s attorney to “ensure that I am following the law in this matter.” Late Tuesday, the HLN received a letter (reprinted below) from the school district that has been redacted (blacked out) by their legal counsel:
September 30, 2014
Leonard Lathrop, Publisher
17 Executive Drive, Suite One
Hudson, NH 03051
Dear Mr. Lathrop,
This letter is written in response to your September 30, 2014 Right-To-Know Law request for any and all letters, emails, and memorandums between the Hudson School Board and the Superintendent regarding the employment of the Superintendent and the contracts governing that employment during the months of May, June and July 2014.
You have already received a copy of the Superintendent’s contract. I am also attaching to this letter an email exchange between the Board Chair and Superintendent. As you will see, I redacted from the document information that is exempt from disclosure under RSA 91-4:5, lV as records pertaining to internal personnel practices, confidential information, personnel information, and information whose disclosure would constitute an invasion of privacy. Also redacted is information exempt from disclosure under RSA 91-4:5, lll as personal school records of pupils.
Bryan K. Lane
As you can see, this letter provides no insight what is going on. There are still many unanswered questions, and the Hudson School Board has decided to keep the town in the dark (alias to non-public).
Why is the one-year notice part of the Hudson superintendent’s contract? A former school board member reported that when both Hudson and Litchfield made up SAU 27 and Randy Bell was in charge of the district, Bell had had two very positive performance reviews. Yet, a Litchfield representative wanted him gone and worked very hard to make it happen. The board put the one-year clause into the contract to make the negotiations not an every meeting issue.
Will answers be presented to the taxpayers before the March 2015 elections when voters will be asked to approve a FY16 budget and elect a board member to replace Chairman Bisson, who has declared she is not running for another school board term? Although reading between the lines isn’t what stories should be written about, this one had to be.