Girard at Large has obtained the following email from Jim Bender, whose company, PING4, created the S.A.F.E. app (Safety. Alerts. For. Education) app. offered to and accepted by the Manchester Board of School Committee in May, 2018.  Yes, 2018!  This video provides highlights of the discussion that took place at that meeting.  (Jim Bender is the man on the right in the tan sport coat.  Parkside Principal Forrest Ransdell is on the left of the screen.)
Note well, the school board did NOT demand any of the conditions placed on PING4 by the Memorandum of Understanding, except that the promotional video featuring a mock incident at Central High School to demonstrate how the app would work in an emergency situation be removed from PING4’s Web site.  In fact, the school board did NOT request any sort of Memorandum of Understanding at all.  That seems to be the invention of Mayor  who, in presenting it to the board for a vote after developing it, undercut the board’s vote in to accept it more than a year ago.  ~Publius
The content of Mr. Bender’s email begins here:
Our marketing team just discovered this press release.
We have decided to share with each of you the letter which I sent to Joyce after the last school board meeting more than a month ago. We never heard any response. Up until now, I have kept this confidential sharing only with the Mayor.
———- Forwarded message ———
From: Jim Bender <>
Date: Thu, May 16, 2019 at 11:26 AM
Subject: Your discussion of the SAFE program at the MSD meeting last Tuesday night.
To: <>

Bender: Accuses Craig of

Dear Mayor Craig,

I am disappointed in your presentation regarding SAFE to the Manchester school board meeting Tuesday evening, because at least three things were said by either you or Jennifer Gillis, which are both detrimental and categorically not true.
1) You said that Ping4 did not have permission to make the Manchester Central High video. That is absolutely false. Before we produced this video, we had full consensus to proceed with implementation of the SAFE program, and to also develop materials including the video, to promote the SAFE program.
The existence of the video itself is proof positive that we had permission to proceed, because such a video could not have imaginably been made without the permission and cooperation of both the School Superintendent and the Police Chief.  
As you knew in advance, we hired a respected team of WMUR news veterans to plan and produce the video. Our team included Josh McElveen, a well respected WMUR reporter and anchorman, ( who attended many of our meetings) and Dan Ryan, a veteran WMUR videographer and editor. These two men are well known throughout Manchester City Government, and had spent weeks in pre-production planning with members of your staff, and especially the police department. On the day of the shoot, our crew was expected and welcome at the Central High School. Judging from the video itself, it looks like the police department participated with enthusiasm { here }. Chief Willard presented a strong case for SAFE implementation nationwide in the video, and to the best of my knowledge, he reported directly to you.
You yourself attended at least one one of the many product demonstration meetings at the police station, as well as the subsequent discussion to plan and approve this program, and you participated in some of the planning along with Superintendent Vargas and others from his office, along with most of the ranking Manchester police leadership. Not once do I recall you ever expressing even the slightest reservation.
For these reasons, there is no denying that we had a consensus agreement and full permission to proceed with the filming, and I felt violated that you would suggest otherwise to the school board. 
2) You asked Ping4 not to solicit contributions for the SAFE Foundation from Manchester businesses under your theory that a dollar donated to SAFE might be a dollar denied to other Manchester city programs. To the best on my knowledge we have completely complied with your request from that moment through today. You told me that you heard from someone that we were raising money in Manchester, but you couldn’t remember who told you. Unfortunately, there is not much that I can do with that input except to reiterate that it isn’t and hasn’t been true. We have had discussions with a national multi-billion dollar company head quartered in Philadelphia, which does have a Manchester office. In my view , that would appear to be the only possibility, unless you can remember who spoke with you. However if all you have is a vague recollection one one incident which you can’t remember, then I would hope that in the future you would refrain from using this vague memory as a justification of your MOU. 
3) Jennifer Gillis told the school board that the aforementioned video, which you’ve expressed objection to as of May 29, 2018, continued to appear on Ping4 and SAFE websites through November 2018, and that is also categorically not true. You asked me at the conclusion of the May 29, 2018 school board meeting to take the video down from the SAFE website, which I immediately did. At that time, I did not realize that the video was also on the Ping4 website. However, when Jennifer soon brought that to our attention through you, we immediately corrected it.
I was first presented with this MOU by Jennifer on March 29, 2019, a full ten months had already been wasted by the Superintendent’s office after the MSD School Board gave final approval to proceed with the implementation of SAFE at Manchester’s 22 schools. Every sentence of the MOU had been satisfactorily answered repeatedly, in detail, and in writing, except for the following paragraph:
In consideration of the agreement by the Manchester School District to support the availability of S.A.F.E. to the MSD community, Ping4, Inc. agrees that it will not represent in any forum, including company advertisements and social media platforms, that the Manchester School District has selected, purchased, used or endorsed Ping4, Inc. or any of its personnel or products, including but not limited to S.A.F.E., and further agrees that it will not publish or share in any manner still photographs or videos of MSD facilities, staff or students. 
Boiling this down to one clear sentence, The MOUs singular purpose is to say that Manchester will implement SAFE at 22 schools, provided that we destroy this two minute video { here }.
That brings me back to why I am so offended by your discussion with the school board last Tuesday. I completely understand Joyce, why you would have preferred that the video had been made in any other place besides Manchester, New Hampshire. You could have said that, rather than to falsely accuse me and my organization of having been duplicitous.
We have all worked very hard on this project for more than 16 months. We have earned the approval of everyone in Manchester City government and the school system. We have agreed to keep the video off all of our websites. I am committed to stand by that promise, and I will further agree not to produce any additional material featuring MSD in the future. 
However, I do not think that it is right to hold the greater safety of your school children hostage to the fate of this video. As you know, the SAFE system could make a real difference in protecting Manchester students should there be a future violent episode in one of Manchester’s schools. 
This video succinctly and skillfully presents a partial solution to a decades-long series of violent school episodes that have shocked our nation and traumatized generations of students. You should know that many people have commented that Manchester is positively portrayed in this video. Manchester, New Hampshire is seen as having a forward thinking city government, which thinks about potential problems and how they came to be, and tries to prepare to deal with these problems before they end up on Manchester’s School District’s doorstep. 
I hope that you will change your mind, and I am happy to come to your office to meet and talk further with you. 
James C. Bender
Managing Director
Safety Alerts For Education Foundation | Office: 603.864.8880
Cell: 603.320.4565 | E-mail:
20 Cotton Road, Nashua NH 03063 |