School Board looks to amend complaint procedures

Staff photo by HANNAH LaCLAIRE Nashua Board of Education member Heather Raymond discussed policy changes at Tuesday night’s committee meeting.

NASHUA – Members of the Board of Education Policy Committee voted Tuesday to adopt KEB, which outlines how members of the public can make complaints against school personnel, while they also amended an existing policy regarding how a person can then request a hearing.

The policies will move to the full board for approval.

The new policy cites trust in employees and desires to keep them free “from unnecessary, spiteful, or negative criticism and complaints.”

As written, KEB requires that whenever a complaint is made directly to the board or to a board member, it should be referred to school administrators for possible solution. The employee will be advised of the nature of the complaint and given the opportunity to explain. The superintendent will then resolve the matter and report to the board.

Policy Chair Heather Raymond said she did not feel it was the responsibility of board members to investigate matters on their own. She believes this should instead be the role of a more appropriate party.

Board member Doris Hohensee, who is not on the committee but attended the meeting, said she was concerned about how complaints against the superintendent might be handled.

This was, in part, Raymond said, why the board addressed their current hearings policy (formerly 1220).

To request a formal hearing before the board, a formal request stating a clear reason for the desired outcome must be submitted at least five days before the next scheduled full board meeting. Those at hearings may not comment on matters before the board or address the board unless invited to do so, according to the policy.

After reading prepared remarks from board member Howard Coffmam, who was not in attendance, Raymond moved to amend the policy to add, “Persons granted a hearing may invite witnesses to speak on their behalf and may bring counsel at their own expense.”

There was considerable discussion regarding the amendment, with board clerk Raymond Guarino voicing his disapproval.

“We are better off leaving it out,” he said, adding that he thought the policy was clear enough as written, and that they should not encourage people “to go get lawyers.”

However, Raymond said she believed, “Anything we can do to facilitate the process …. is good” and that they want people to know what their options are.

The amendment passed 2-1, with board members Raymond and William Mosher voting “yes” and Guarino “no.”

Hannah LaClaire can be reached at 594-1243 or hlaclaire@nashuatelegraph.com.