Green Invokes Ed 204

There are laws, and then there are administrative rules with the force of law.  Some feel that administrative rules, which are by their nature established by bureaucrats, have no moral authority because they are not voted on by elected representatives.

Be that as it may, at last night’s school board meeting (July 20, 2017), I invoked Education Administrative Rule 204:01, “Proceedings at the School Board Level to Resolve Disputes Between Individuals and the School System.”

This rule will require SAU 55’s board to hold a public hearing to hear my complaint concerning the SAU board’s failure to vote on employment contracts of SAU employees or to set their salaries as required by law; namely, RSA 194-C:5.

If the SAU 55 board ignores my petition or deals with it unsatisfactorily, I will appeal to the state Board of Education for a hearing and/or mediation, as is my right under Ed 204.

What’s all the fuss about?  Read my letter, then call a Timberlane School Board representative and tell them to do their job.  Each and every one of them should be insisting the SAU follow some basic rules of good governance which just happen to be the law of the state, too.  Last night, only Mrs. Dube and I voted to require SAU 55 to have a special meeting. Now I have to hope SAU55’s board will do more than ignore my Ed 204 demand.

Ed 204 Complaint to SAU 55

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Behind the Scenes of Policy Committee

It is my deep seated conviction that administrators should not have voting rights on school board standing committees in order to ensure that your elected officials are in charge of their own committees – not the administration. If you don’t think Timberlane’s current arrangement is a symptom of diseased governance, please continue reading.

As the assigned school board head of Timberlane’s Policy Standing Committee, I have been trying to hold summer meetings.  Policy formation is one of the principal duties of the School Board, yet the established schedule of Policy Committee meetings is one hour, once per month, for 10 months out of 12.  By current policy, a majority of the committee consists of administrators, which means administrators can block a quorum and stonewall meetings. At the June 29th school board meeting, it was agreed that Mrs. Belcher would do a poll of the 3 school board members and 5 administrators to determine dates and times when a quorum (of five) would be available.  I made it clear that I am available throughout the summer both day and night.

By some oversight, neither Dr. Metzler nor his admin assistant, Mrs. Belcher, mentioned to me or the board that immediately following the June 29th school board meeting they would both be on vacation for 10 days.  The polling was thus needlessly delayed for 10 days, though it could have easily been sent out by Mrs. Belcher’s stand-in.  It didn’t much matter, though, because no administrators seem to be available at all in July except for Dr. Metzler on the evening of July 31.   This means the Policy Committee is deprived of a quorum through the unavailability of the administration for all July.  The same appears true of August although not all administrators have filled in their August availability. School board member from Plaistow, Mr. Bealo, is available for only 3 dates in July and not on July 31 – and for one hour only.

Add to this is the following email exchange initiated by a unilateral decision of the superintendent, made without conferring with me (the Superintendant and I are designated as “co-chairs” of the Policy Committee).  Please do read the exchanges. They are tremendously revealing.


 

July 11, 2017   To the Policy Committee

Due to the number of initiatives and duties associated with preparing for the start of the 2017-18 school year, Dr. Metzler (co-chair) has reduced the policy sessions from 3 hours each to two.  Please see the updated schedule below.

Thank you,

Cathy


July 11, 2017   To the Policy Committee

Dr. Metzler did not have the authority to change the length of meetings.  Pls. disregard his notice.  Thank you!

[Donna Green]


July 11, 2017  To the Policy Committee

Either way,

Please bear in mind that when I fill in the chart later tonight I am filling it in for a 1 hour meeting only, not 3 hour blocks. And they will be for any 1 hour block of time between the hours of 11:30AM and 1:30PM (that will be my morning availability) and again between 3:30PM and 5:30PM (that will be my afternoon availability). So me checking AM on some date will NOT mean I’ll be there for 3 hours, only 1 hour within that 11:30 to 1:30 window.

Peter B.


July 11, 2017   To the Policy Committee

Mrs Green has absolutely no authority to direct district staff. Please disregard any direct communications from her. 
Respectfully,  Dr. Earl F. Metzler


July 11, 2017    To the Policy Committee

What are these “initiatives” that are taking up so much time? 
If administration isn’t available for the alotted meeting time, maybe the policy should be changed to remove them from the committee.  

[Stefanie Dube]


July 11, 2017   To the Policy Committee
Thank you for your commitment to the work, Peter.  Similar thanks to Dr. Metzler.

[Donna Green]


July 11, 2017   To the Policy Committee
Thanks for the comic relief, Donna!  

[Stefanie Dube]


July 13. 2017   To a quorum of school board members only

Good morning! I have received several complaints from staff members regarding these sarcastic emails. I am going to request that you refrain from contacting district staff directly especially with sarcastic communications. They find it unprofessional and distracting. Thank you in advance for your cooperation.

Respectfully, Earl


July 13, 2017  To a quorum of school board members only

It is not your place to reprimand school board members.  Thank you in advance for your cooperation.

[Donna Green]


July 13, 2017    To Green only

Nor is it yours to direct or contact staff. Thank you in advance for your cooperation.


July 13, 2017  To School Board Chairman, Vice Chairman, and Green

See policy BHC. You should know since you are currently the Chair of the Policy Committee. I would appreciate the Chair and Vice-Chair’s assistance with this Board members direct policy violations even after a reasonable request from staff to stop with the harassment.

[Dr. Metzler]


 July 13, 2017    To a quorum of school board members and Dr. Metzler, Mrs. Belcher

Dr. Metzler,
Thank you for your email.  I don’t believe the emails were sarcastic, but were matter of fact.  I would also add that emails pertaining to the scheduling of Policy Committee meetings should originate from the Policy Chair, Donna Green.  I would also expect that any communication of this subject would be vetted through either Donna and/or the School Board Chair, Brian Boyle. 
Further, what I find unprofessional and distracting is receiving an email from you and not from the two mentioned above. 
Please refrain from doing so in the future. 
Sincerely, 

Stefanie


July 13, 2017  To School Board Chairman, Vice Chairman, Stefanie Dube, and Attorney Richard Lehmann
Dear Mr. Boyle:
Dr. Metzler has contrived to insert the word “harrassment” into his communication with me. This is clearly being done in order to create a paper trail for use in the future.
I am an elected official and I will not be intimidated by an employee. What is going on in this exchange is a clear attempt by the superintendent to interfere with my efforts to conduct the policy committee to serve the interests of the board. 
The superintendent should be instructed to cooperate with me and be made to understand board members are not his employees subject to his abuse or reprimand.

[Donna Green]


July 13, 2017   To Peter Bealo, Stefanie Dube, Brian Boyle, Kim Farar, Donna Green, Cathrine Belcher

See BHC!       [Dr. Metzler]


July 13, 2017   To Peter Bealo, Stefanie Dube, Brian Boyle, Kim Farar, Donna Green, Cathrine Belcher
Please do not email me again on matters pertaining to the Policy Committee Schedule.  I expect that communication to come from the Chair, Mrs. Green or the SB Chair, Mr. Boyle. 

Thank you.   [Stefanie Dube]


My goal is to change policy so that administrators have no voting rights on any school board standing committees.  Now why isn’t this every elected member’s goal?

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Separating the Good Guys from the Bad: Proposed Right to Know Policy

There is a time in the life of every elected official when their vote says it all. I plan to introduce this policy about Right to Know requests to Timberlane’s Policy Committee and the Timberlane Regional School Board.  It is a policy written to provide maximal transparency with minimal inconvenience to the public.

Will it be approved?

Draft Policy EH rev July 10 2017 (2)

 

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Does Summer Homework Agree with TRSD Policy?

Timberlane School Board member from Danville, Stefanie Dube, has been asking parents for their opinions about summer homework assignments, especially at the elementary level.

It’s an interesting question because my children never had more than a summer recommended reading list, and that only in high school.  Seems Timberlane students at many grade levels have summer homework assignments.  Is homework being “required” of elementary students or just “expected?”

This morning Kim Farah, another school board member from Danville,  made the board aware of a summer homework policy at Timberlane which seems to restrict required homework to students who have completed Grade 8.

Timberlane Regional School District       Policy Code: IHCA

Adopted: 07-21-99
Revised: 04-03-08
Revised: 05-02-13
Revised: 12-19-13

IHCA – SUMMER LEARNING SUMMER LEARNING
The Board recognizes that student learning is an ongoing process and that it is important for students to engage in learning activities even when not attending school. Students will be expected to complete summer activities that support student learning. For students who have completed 8th grade and beyond there will be required summer work.
Students may take credit bearing courses, either at the high school or in an alternative setting, as defined by Policy IMBC – Alternative Credit Options for High School Graduation. These credits will carry the same value as those earned during the school year. Students who intend to complete course work for credit must obtain prior approval from the high school building principal or designee.

Legal Reference: NH Code of Administrative Rules Section Ed. 306:14(h)

[DG’s note, I cannot find a”306:14(h)” in the current Admin Rules and 306:14 seems to have expired in 2015.    306:141 says in part,  “Each school shall have….A policy encouraging students to have a plan for summer activities that support student learning.”]

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TRMS and Spotlight Award Renewal

The New England League of Middle Schools bestows on middle schools a “Spotlight Award.”  Timberlane Regional Middle School was awarded this recognition in 2012.  Here is the application to renew the recognition.  I requested the full application and I believe this is what I was given.  In other words, I believe there were no other supporting documents that went into this renewal application.

It is genuinely good when our schools and their staff earn recognition for work well done.  Parents should understand, however, that in the ed biz, some recognitions are completely unrelated to academic achievement – an issue previously raised by Arthur Green with regard to the High School of Excellence Award. You will note that there is not one question in this renewal form relating to academic achievement.

Note:  Apologies that the following sheets are not in correct page sequence due to the limitations of the auto feed function of my scanner.

Spotlight award MS06252017

Spotlight award MS06252017_0007

Spotlight award MS06252017_0001

Spotlight award MS06252017_0010Spotlight award MS06252017_0003Spotlight award MS206252017Spotlight award MS206252017_0001Spotlight award MS06252017_0006

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Timberlane Predicts $550k Surplus Shortfall

Before any budget is approved, prudence and common sense require an examination of projected revenues. Unfortunately Timberlane’s budget committee never looks at revenue before they give their stamp of approval.

Why does this matter?  Shaky revenues mean a risk of even higher taxes.  A large source of revenue in our budget is the surplus from the previous budget year. Every dollar that doesn’t come through in projected surplus is another dollar that must be raised from taxpayers.

On June 1, 2017 your SAU gave the school board an estimate of a projected surplus $550,000 LESS than budgeted.  If this turns out to be correct, then taxpayers in the district are going to have to cough up more than half a million dollars in additional tax dollars for the district to meet its operational budget.

Sandown, you were already looking at a double digit school tax increase come November. Oh well, in for a penny, in for a pound.

You can see how our surplus slipped away in this handout given to the school board.  It is not published on any website, public or private.  Funny how that is.

2017 surplus projection06242017

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Yet Another Right to Know Tug of War

Below is an email I sent out this morning.  It is in response to my Right to Know request to see Tom Geary’s resume and job application for the position of SAU 55 Business Operations Coordinator.  Mr. Geary was, until March 2017, an elected official on the Timberlane Budget Committee.  (Timberlane is administered by SAU 55.)

SAU 55 denied my request.  You can see their position following my email of today.

June 16, 2017

Dear Mrs. Belcher, Mrs. Sherman, and Superintendent Metzler:

Your response to my Right to Know request of June 9th asking to obtain a copy of Mr. Tom Geary’s resume and job application for the position of SAU55 Business Operations Coordinator is not at all satisfactory, nor do I believe it is a correct interpretation of case law.

I would draw your attention to 

​Lambert v. Belnap County Convention, 157 N.H. 375, 385 (2008) in which is it quoted that “applicants for public employment have no privacy interest in their resumes.”
Further:  “[I]f no privacy interest is at stake, the Right-to-Know Law mandates disclosure.”  Lambert, 157 N.H. at 383.
The public interest in disclosure is to allow scrutiny into the actions of SAU 55 and the elected officials involved in the selection process by verifying that the individual hired is indeed qualified for the position. 
In light of this, I would urge you to reconsider your refusal, and provide me and the public I represent with Mr. Geary’s resume and application (redacted for confidential personal information such as Social Security number).

I did not request the referral letters which you reference in your correspondence.​

​Thank you,

Donna Green


Here is SAU 55’s previous response:

Hello Donna,

The documents you are requesting are pre-employment documents (application, reference letters, and a resume) gathered by the District during its hiring process.  Such documents fall under the “internal personnel practices” categorical exemption set forth in RSA 91-A:5,IV.  In Clay v. City of Dover, the court wrote the following:

“The information provided by the applicants to the superintendent search committee was gathered in the course of the hiring process, a process that was internal to the search committee and conducted on behalf of the superintendent’s employer. . . Because the completed rubric forms pertain to “internal personnel practices,” they are exempt from disclosure under the Right-to-Know Law.”

Accordingly, because the documents are categorically exempt records pertaining to the “internal personal practices” of the District as a hiring entity, they will not be disclosed.

Cathy


I have also asked Mr. Boyle, Chairman of the Timberlane Regional School Board, to request the resume and application for my inspection.  Our school board meeting last night went to midnight and we did not get to “Other Business” so I did not have an opportunity to bring this issue up at last night’s meeting.  Although Mr. Boyle would like at least one July meeting of the board, it is possible we will not be meeting again until August 24. The next SAU 55 meeting is October 4, 2017.

Convenient for SAU 55, isn’t it?

Hear Manchester radio host and school board member, Rich Girard, slay the legal reference to the Clay case cited by SAU 55.  He also says the Manchester Board of School Committee makes public the resumes of employees. Turns out Rich did his own Right to Know request of SAU 55 and got the same answer as I did.  Girard at Large says resume should be public.

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