Public meeting law not violated
NASHUA – The Board of Education did not break any public meeting laws when members contacted the superintendent about opposition to an administrative nomination instead of discussing it at a meeting, according to a city attorney.
At a Human Resources Committee meeting last Monday night, members were scheduled to consider Superintendent Joseph Giuliano’s nomination for a vacant assistant principal position at Nashua High School South. But citing phone calls from more than one board member expressing opposition to the nomination, Giuliano withdrew it.
At the meeting, board member Michael Clemons said those actions were unethical and may have violated the law.
“This is supposed to go on in public,” he told the other board members.
Clemons asked deputy city attorney Stephen Bennett to look into the matter. In a letter distributed to board members later in the week, Bennett said there was no violation of state public meeting law.
“The school board members who spoke with one another did not constitute a quorum of the Human Resources Committee or of the full Board of Education,” Bennett wrote in the letter.
Neither Bennett nor Clemons returned phone calls last week.
Kim Shaw, the president of the board, said several board members contacted her about their concerns with the credentials of the nominee. Shaw then contacted Giuliano, telling him there was not enough support from the board for the nomination to be approved.
Giuliano said that information directly led to the withdrawal, but added that he encouraged such actions, saying he would prefer concerns be expressed to him prior to nominations going public to avoid wasting time and embarrassment for the nominees.
Board member Scott Cote said he believed at the time there was no wrongdoing and hopes that with Bennett’s findings the board can move on.
“It’s pretty clear there was nothing wrong. That’s our job. That’s what we’re there for,” Cote said.
During the board meeting, Giuliano and some board members expressed concern about inconsistencies in the hiring process, involving how the board decides whether to interview candidates. Cote said it simply comes down to the level of concern about any particular nominee.
“The board won’t ask for an interview of every candidate if we feel the person is qualified. If there is a person we feel may not be qualified, we may at that point ask for an interview,” Cote said.
Cote said board members received information about the assistant principal nominee, whose name has not been released, the Friday prior to the Human Resources Committee meeting. A full board meeting was scheduled after the committee meeting, where the board would have voted on the recommendation.
“We only had until Monday to respond. That’s not a lot of time. We never knew (Giuliano) was coming through with an appointment,” Cote said. “This is a senior administrative position making $80,000 a year. I think we should have some say in that.”
To avoid these types of situation, Cote said no senior-level appointments should come before the full board the same night they go to the Human Resources Committee.
Michael Brindley can be reached at 594-6426 or firstname.lastname@example.org.