“I either read this or you call to have me ejected. You’ve seen it. You know what it is. It doesn’t break your rules. It’s not criticizing anyone, so I’m going to attempt to read it or you’re going to call.” That’s what Pembroke Academy parent David Pearl told Pembroke School Board Chair Thomas Serafin in a dramatic First Amendment showdown at the board’s meeting last night. While Serafin said he didn’t want to go there, Pearl said they were already there and was approached by an on duty plain clothes police officer who was in the audience, no doubt because of Pearl’s prior clashes with the board over its refusal to allow him to address the false statements of Superintendent Patty Sherman, who sent parents a letter claiming the district did not inform them of the arrest of former Dean of Students Rekha Luther because state and federal laws prevented it.
Sherman would later disclose she knew that was not true in an email exchange with Pearl, who simply wants to read the emails into the record as proof the public was lied to and have the admission sent home. Serafin has refused to allow Pearl to address his comments on the matter, saying board policy prohibits criticism of individual staff members. Serafin said he could submit his comments in writing and the board would discuss them in non-public session.
Pearl refused, saying he wasn’t criticizing the employee, he was just reading their emails to one another to correct the record. As Pearl began to read the letter, he was approached by the plain clothes officer who asked him to leave. Pearl said he wouldn’t leave unless he was arrested. The officer, not knowing what to charge him with to arrest him, called his supervisor, who arrived with another uniformed officer in tow.
While Pearl shared his letter with the officers, still refusing to leave unless arrested, Serafin recessed the meeting and board members left the room and gathered in a nearby hallway where they talked out of public view; a clear violation of the Right to Know Law. When they returned, rather than deal with Pearl’s demands and the reality that the cops had no reason to arrest him for addressing the board during its public input session, they adjourned the meeting, leaving their agenda unattended.
Pearl, who will be our guest this morning at seven, vowed to come back to every meeting until he is allowed to enter his comments into the record.
The Diocese of Manchester is seeking nominations for the Vita et Caritas Award (For Life and Love Award) given to a volunteer of a non-profit organization who makes significant contributions that help transform the lives of women, children, and families. This award is given memory of Ruthie Ford, whose life reflected Catholic ideals and tireless dedication to service in that cause. The volunteer’s non-profit organization will also receive a twenty five hundred dollar grant. Additional information and the application is available at catholic n h dot org slash b c a f slash v c a. Don’t worry, we’ve linked to it. Applications are due by June twenty-fourth.
News from our own backyard continues after this.
Skeet shooting looks like it may find a home at Manchester’s Memorial High School as the Board of School Committee’s Curriculum and Instruction Committee approved a request by the school to form a club at its meeting last night. Principal Arthur Adamakos said a parent, whose children are involved in the sport, approached the school about forming a club in conjunction with the Londonderry Fish and Game Club and the Scholastic Clay Target Program. In addition to providing an alternative extracurricular activity, Adamakos said it provided scholastic scholarship opportunities. While he was initially skeptical of the idea, he decided to bring it forward after the board approved the return of the Naval Junior R O T C marksmanship program to West High, though the skeet shooting would take place at and be supervised by officials from Londonderry Fish and Game. If the program is successful, it could be expanded city wide.
Also at its meeting, the committee tabled the acceptance of a three hundred forty two thousand dollar Title I Reallocation Grant from the state. The grant comes available when the state reclaims unspent Title I funds from local school districts. Ward Ten Committee Member John Avard raised his oft stated request for information regarding the cost to the district of accepting state or federal grant money, saying this would be the last grant he voted to accept if he didn’t get the requested information. At-Large Committee Member Rich Girard echoed Avard’s request and raised concerns that the grant, which is one time money, would be used to expand ongoing programs, rather than used for onetime expenses, leaving the district on the hook for the added expenses in future years.
Both Girard and Avard zeroed in on the two hundred thousand dollars slated to expand the City Year program, with Avard pointing to past experiences when grants used to provide a service or program left parents feeling they were entitled to the service still and that the city should pay for it out of the general fund. The committee voted to have the administration prepare a presentation on the cost of federal grants to itself and the Finance Committee next month. It also asked the administration to provide alternative, one time uses for the funds.
In other business, the committee voted to accept seventy thousand dollars in grants to expand the FIRST Jr. STEAM Ahead program to all of the city’s elementary schools and, after an in depth, constructive discussion, voted to accept grants that would expand project based learning training for teachers in each elementary school.
There was OOOHHH soo much more, like the conversations addressing the use of non-academic surveys and how to administer the S A T so that the city’s Freshmen, Sophomores and Seniors can go to school on test day. Thanks to our very own Melanie Friese, you can get all the details from our Live Blog Forum under the Oh My BLOG! tab at Girard at Large dot com. We’ve linked to it from this news read for your convenience.
That’s news from our own backyard! Girard at Large hour ___ is next!