Well, the discussion over the Manchester School District’s settlement with the federal Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights wasn’t the only consequential item on Monday’s agenda of the Board of School Committee. Ward 2 Committeewoman Debra Langton successfully forced a discussion over how the district’s administration was handling student disciplinary issues. Langton, who chairs the board’s Student Conduct Committee, has complained that serious infractions of the Code of Conduct, which used to come before the committee to be adjudicated , including assault and weapons possession, were now being handled by staff and often in a manner that’s different from established policy.
Superintendent Debra Livingston said that she and her staff should be allowed work on these matters to determine what’s in the best interests of students. She also said Langton has yet to accept her offer to meet on the matter. Langton countered that during the discussion that led to the invitation, she’d asked Livingston several questions and that six weeks later she has yet to receive what she asked for. She also said that any meeting should take place with the entire committee, not just her. Mayor Ted Gatsas intervened in the discussion to more or less direct that the superintendent and the committee discuss the topic. In doing so, however, he reiterated that he fully supported the district’s Zero Tolerance policy on weapons possession and said those matters should be referred to the police. Ward 10 Committeeman John Avard reminded the board that the policy is to refer all criminal activity within the schools to the police, not just weapons possession. There were other major issues at that meeting which we’ll get to tomorrow. In the meantime, you can read about them as they unfolded in real time in our Live Blog Forum of the meeting. We’ve linked to it for your convenience.
We’ve also reviewed the notes of our blogger covering the Bedford School Board‘ meeting from Monday night. It seems that Assistant Superintendent Chip McGee, the soon to be superintendent, really doesn’t want a policy on surveys, parental notification or consent. In response to questions from board member Bill Foote, McGee said the controversy didn’t rise to the level of needing a policy and that, get this, the procedures followed were proper, though he did admit to lessons learned. Good grief!
Board members Scott Earnshaw and Dr. Bill Kassler pushed for a discussion on having opt in versus opt out for surveys with Kassler questioning the need for these surveys at all given other surveys the district was involved in, such as the one from the C D C. The district’s participation in the C D C survey caught Foote, who had already made his displeasure with not knowing such surveys were being done in the schools, by surprise.
While McGee argued that decisions like these shouldn’t be done in the heat of the moment, board members said they wanted it addressed in the near future so their constituents knew it was being dealt with, not put off. Funny how that happens when people stand up and speak out, huh?
News from our own backyard continues after this.
The Manchester Veterans Council is putting out an All Points Bulleting for Vietnam Veterans to join this year’s Memorial Day Parade. This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the start of the Vietnam War and the parade will feature a commemorative theme. Lead organizer Mike Lopez said the parade will feature all vets and all veterans organizations as it has in years past, but special recognition will be afford the Vietnam Vets this year. Therefore, they’re making a special appeal. So, if you are or know a Vietnam Vet, Manchester wants to provide a special thank you its Memorial Day Parade, so please contact Lopez. We’ve got his contact info and all the parade details with this newscast at Girard at Large dot com. And, thank you for your service.
Our interview with Ward 3 Alderman and State Rep. Patrick Long drew fire from Pro-Life advocates who “pray-test” outside the Manchester Planned Parenthood facility on Pennacook Street. In emails received by Girard at Large, people claim to have recently seen Long parked at the corner of Chestnut and Pennacook streets and said there was not way he could have seen any interaction between they who were there praying and anyone entering the clinic. One lady wrote that she’s been going there for years once a week for eight hours or more and says Long has it all wrong. She and the others praying on the sidewalk are the ones who get screamed at and are cursed, not the other way around. Concerns were also raised by Long’s citing the property rented by a Pro-Life group across the street. They’re wondering whether or not they’re some sort of target not just because Long brought them up, but because State Rep. Charlene Takesian, Republican of Pelham has contacted the landlord who rents to the group to quote “see if she should cause trouble for us.” End quote.
The New Hampshire Liquor Commission will officially open its new store on Elm Street this Friday. The twelve thousand square foot store is at the corner of Elm Street and Brown Avenue. To celebrate the opening, a ten percent discount on all wine and spirits sales will be given on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The Liquor Commission is closing the liquor store on Valley Street in conjunction with the opening of the new store, but says in addition to providing downtown restaurants with easier access to liquor, the new store will carry twice the selection of liquors and wines as the old one. Here’s their release.
Slightly more than five hundred fifty voters went to the polls in Hooksett, yesterday. All but one thirty thousand dollar item was passed by the voters and everybody running for reelection won in ho hummers. Note to those in town who continue to try and downplay the March school board elections. If you don’t think the town was totally ticked off and opposed to the Pinkerton contract and those who gave it to them to vote on, ask why the turnout there was more than TRIPLE yesterday’s election, where folks evidently seem pretty satisfied with what’s going and and whose doing it. Oh My HEAD!
Thats news from our own backyard, Girard at Large hour ___ starts right now