MEA also organized what amounted to an organized sick out attempt to defeat Goldhard’s reopening plan


An August 23, 2020 letter from Manchester Education Association President Sue Ellen Hannan threatened members of the Manchester Board of School Committee if they voted to back the minimalist reopening proposal submitted by Superintendent Dr. John Goldhardt.  In the letter opposing any reopening of school, Hannan writes:

If even one student or staff member contracts this terrible virus, or worse, dies, that will be your decision. It will be directly traced back to this Board putting people in harm’s way.
That line of argument is strikingly similar to warnings issued by Manchester Public Health Director Anna Thomas who scolded the Board of Mayor and Aldermen in early June, telling them that if they voted to open the city’s pools, it would lead to additional nursing home deaths from COVID-19 because nursing home workers lived in the community and would bring the virus into the nursing homes because pools were allowed to open:

Thomas: Prone to hyperbolic rhetoric

If there’s an outbreak, and your family member becomes afflicted, then I just want to be clear and I want to be on the record, that is on you.  I am recommending against it.

After three aquatic facilities in the city reopened in July, Thomas admitted, in response to a question by Alderman Keith Hirschmann (R-Ward 12), that the city experienced no COVID-19 outbreak because the facilities were opened.
The letter acknowledges that the MEA launched a letter writing campaign, encouraging teachers to write to the board opposing Goldhard’s reopening plan which would only allow children in just three grades pre-K, Kindergarten and first grade to come to school for classroom instruction for two days a a week and engage in remote learning for two other days per week while requiring children in all other grades to learn entirely remotely for at least the first quarter of the year.  The plan would also allow high school CTE students at the Manchester School of Technology to attend in person classes five days a week given the inability of those subjects to be taught online.  Hannan told the board:
…now is the time for you to know our environment and how risky this plan truly is.  

Goldhardt: Plan sabotaged

Hannan also complained that Goldhard’s plan “violated” the union’s contract by expecting teachers to answer a survey about reopening while on vacation and said it required “changes to working conditions” that needed to be negotiated.  She also asserted the district should provide every teacher with district issued computer devices and phones to work from home.

Claiming “the anxiety level of educators is through the roof,” Hannan chided the administration for poor communication, despite admitting MEA members were on committees developing the plan, and faulted the board for not meeting through the summer to work on and finalize a plan much earlier in the summer.  She also chastised unnamed school board members and aldermen for “very unprofessional displays” in social media posts that were critical of the union for opposing reopening.

Hannan engaged in much fear-mongering throughout the letter as she detailed the challenges working with autistic and other students with special needs.
This is a virus. It can mutate to become something different. This is why the flu still exists…We have members, as we are sure you also have experienced this, who have lost family members to this virus. One member has lost two family members with a third in hospice, all due to COVID-19. This member works with cognitively impaired students,and so will have to be in class with them. What social/emotional skills are we teaching our students when they see the devastating effects of this disease on their friends and teachers? How do we justify to a student that they came to school with the virus and it killed their teacher or their best friend? How do we teach them on the emotional level when they are afraid to be in a room with that many people for up to 7 hours? How d owe assist their social skills if they cannot work with each other, share supplies, toys or equipment? Are we being alarmists? Is this too over dramatic? Sadly, no.
Girard at Large has also confirmed that, at the behest of the MEA, approximately 750 of Manchester’s 1,100 teachers applied for medical exemptions that would prevent them from having to teach in the classroom, including being required to teach remote classes from their classrooms in schools.  Our sources were unable to confirm how many exemptions were granted under the ADA, FMLA or CARES Act, but said it would likely be enough to prevent school from reopening at all this year.  One teacher, who was granted an exemption to care for her elderly mother, is being reviewed because her mother is dead, a fact that was not known at the time the exemption was granted.
Meanwhile, district administrators are considering barring teachers from engaging in part-time jobs during school work hours and requiring live instruction online during the time they would be teaching classes in school.  While exact numbers were not known, one source said that as many as 10% of the district teachers were engaged in part time jobs during school hours.  District officials are considering ways to better monitor teachers to ensure they’re providing necessary student instruction.

Craig: Kept it quiet

In transmitting the letter, which Girard at Large has confirmed was not sent to Superintendent Goldhardt, any member of the administrative staff or the board’s clerk, but was sent to Mayor Joyce Craig and every member of the board except Arthur Beaudry (D-Ward 9) and Bill Shea (D-Ward-7) who don’t have email addresses, Hannan wrote:

Please find a letter to the Board attached.  This may be shared only with Mr. Beaudry and Mr. Shea who do not have email addresses listed on the board site.”  Emphasis added.
Such instruction is a blatant violation of New Hampshire’s Right to Know Law (RSA 91-A), under which such a communication is clearly a public document.  Fortunately, a member of the board provided the email to Girard at Large today, in advance of tonight’s meeting that will, once again, focus on reopening the city’s schools.
In providing the full letter to the board, we note that Hannan is an English teacher at Hillside Middle School, lives in Derry and has served for multiple terms as MEA president.