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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Timberlane officials quiet on controversial issues Administration quiet on past, present controversies

From the Eagle Tribune;

Timberlane officials quiet on controversial issues Administration quiet on past, present controversies
By Eric Parry
eparry@eagletribune.com

PLAISTOW — Timberlane Regional School District officials had little to say last week when news of an online book critical of many members of the high school's senior class became public.

The online book, allegedly written by senior class President Joshua Tubbs, circulated at the high school and offers often scathing opinions of the 350 members of the senior class.

After news of the book became public, Superintendent Richard La Salle released a four-sentence statement saying the district was investigating claims of potential student harassment. He declined to comment on any punishment the author of the book could face.

Principal Don Woodworth declined to comment further and School Board Chairwoman Elizabeth Kosta referred all questions to school administration. The response by school officials is consistent with other controversial events that have rattled the district in recent years.

Over the last two years, the district's administration has been mum on several issues, from the firing of two popular ski coaches to a former teacher who is awaiting trial on child pornography charges.

Woodworth sent a letter home to parents Friday afternoon that stated the school district was investigating the latest incident. The letter also invites parents to contact school administrators to share their thoughts or information on the incident.

Calls to La Salle seeking comment on the district's release of information to the public were not returned yesterday. But the superintendent did supply a 12-page document that outlines the district's policy on releasing student information and records.

In most cases, records and information are only supplied to students and their legal guardians. If a student or parent gives permission, the district will distribute information to the public, according to the policy. But the policy doesn't address what information the district can release in regard to a staff member.

This summer, parents with children on Timberlane Regional High School's ski team became angry when La Salle refused to allow them to be put on the School Board's agenda to discuss the firing of Peter and Marybeth Torosian.

The couple coached the team for 12 years and were named Coaches of the Year by The Eagle-Tribune three times, but their one-year contract was not renewed this summer by Athletic Director Angelo Fantasia.

La Salle and Fantasia declined to comment on why the contracts were not renewed.

In recent years, the school district also has been faced with two teachers arrested on criminal charges.

In August, a former Timberlane Regional Middle School teacher, Scott Buatti, was indicted on charges of possessing child pornography. Buatti is scheduled to go to trial in February.

Federal investigators told Timberlane administrators in March 2008 that Buatti was under investigation for alleged possession of child pornography, but he continued to teach and coach until April 2009.

In April, La Salle refused to comment on the March 2008 meeting with federal investigators. He insisted the district's first priority is the safety of students and said he acted appropriately in keeping Buatti on staff while he was under criminal investigation.

Kevin Goddu, a former teacher at the high school, received a 12-month suspended jail sentence in July 2008 for having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old student. Goddu reached a plea agreement after he went to trial on felony charges, resulting in a hung jury.

When Goddu was arrested on April 6, 2007, former Superintendent Douglas McDonald refused to comment on the arrest since Goddu had resigned from the district a day earlier.

Goddu had been on paid administrative leave since March 22 for allegations of inappropriate conduct.

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't understand Atkinson. Why is it the only one town within the TRSD that doesn't seem to care how badly the school administration behaves???

Anonymous said...

Because we have too much corruption within our own town, specifically the PD to have any energy left for the school.

Anonymous said...

It's Atkinson's own fault because they keep electing the same representative to the board,a man who 1) does not hold a degree, and 2) is not representing us now because he is on active duty.

But 2 is OK, the rest of the school board said they would keep his spot open.

Now, am I the only one who sees something wrong with this? On what authority does the board have to say another members seat is safe? And why is Atkinson settling for this?

Said member should have resigned his seat and new election held. But that did not happen, so, Atkinson has no representation on the board to care.

Anonymous said...

I'd also like to know on what authority the board can hold Baldwin's seat open.

Does anyone know if this is legal? The BOS should ask the town attorney why we have to suffer this.

Anonymous said...

rESIGNING HIS SEAT WHILE GONE WOULD HAVE MEANT HE WAS THINKING OF THE GOOD OF THE COMMUNITY, NOT HIS OWN GOOD.

Anonymous said...

The school board offerred to give him his seat back when he returned, he refused to give it up in the interim even.

Anonymous said...

If he fails to do his elected duty, can't he be replaced? I'm sure those of you who voted him in did not expect to vote for an empty seat.

Anonymous said...

"If he fails to do his elected duty, can't he be replaced? I'm sure those of you who voted him in did not expect to vote for an empty seat."

Yes, a recall vote. I'm sure the town clerk can provide details of what is require to initiate such an action.

For those who care about the education of our kids I find this situation deplorable. The School Board has taken upon themselves to approve Atkinson's non representation on the board, and the member who cannot serve will not step aside. While I applaud his service to our country, it does not provide a blanket waiver to the his responsibilities here.

By law, his job is secure. I do not believe that applies to elected positions.

Remember, the lions share of your property taxes goes to the public school system. As of now, you have no voice in how those taxes are used.

MAcciard said...

I believe that according to DOD directive a military person on active duty(as LT. Baldwin is currently) can not hold elective office without prior permission from the Secretary of(in Baldwin's case) the Coast Guard.

DoD directive http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/corres/pdf/134410p.pdf

I notice that para 4.1.1.4 says that Baldwin can serve as an elected official if he gets PRIOR approval from the Secretary, of whatever branch of the service he's in.

Anonymous said...

Whether the CC allows it or not, he's hardly in a position to attend regular school board meetings, let alone chair them.

Bottom line, Atkinson is not being represented on the school board at this time. That is wrong.

Anonymous said...

So you are telling me that a police Lt. was offered to get his position back after he cam home, if he would let it go for the time being, and refused, and in doing this violated Coast Guard Regs too?

So this is like Phil ignoring the law when it is inconvenient for him to follow it.

Anonymous said...

on active duty, he may "SERVE AS AN ELECTION OFFICIAL, IF SUCH SERVICE IS NOT AS A REPRESENTATIVE OF A PARTISAN POLITICAL PARTY, DOES NOT INTERFERE WITH MILITARY DUTIES, IS PERFORMED WHILE OUT OF UNIFORM, AND HAS THE PRIOR APPROVAL OF THE POLICY AND STANDARDS DIVISION OF THE OFFICE OF MILITARY PERSONNEL. THE POLICY AND STANDARDS DIVISION CAN BE REACHED AT (202) 475-5375.
"

Hmmm.

Anonymous said...

What is Balwin's position on the board?

Anonymous said...

December 10, 2009 12:21 PM

Well, it certainly does not interfere with his CC duties. I suspect the rule was put in place for active duty personnel holding an office in the town/city they live in.

December 10, 2009 12:25 PM

Oh, oh, this is the best part. He's chairman of the school board.

Anonymous said...

I should say "was chairman" until he had to leave.

Curt Springer said...

I looked up the laws when it was first announced that your Lt. Baldwin was leaving for military duty without resigning his school board position.

It is not up to the school board to decide whether or not to let him keep his seat. It's solely up to Baldwin. There is no provision in law (that I could find) to remove a school board member against his will for non-attendance or any other reason, other than perhaps the general prohibition against revealing sealed confidential information.

Atkinson residents have no recourse other than to elect somebody else at the end of his term.

This is in contrast to other volunteer board positions, such as planning boards where members can be removed by the selectmen for non-attendance and other reasons.

Anonymous said...

To Anon 12/9/9 @ 7:40AM, to your point #1, looks like a little character assisination going on... I don't recall any prerequisite on the ballot that whomever ran for said position required a degree - what's your point?

The majority of the elected officials I'm aware of in southern NH don't have degrees either - and if they do, likely most don't have a degree related to the business of running a town or a board etc...

I will say, it's poor planning on his part if he intentionally did not recuse himself or resign the position for what supposedly will be a lenghty absence.

Anonymous said...

You are correct that a degree is not required. However, I think it would be nice if the chairman of a regional school system did have a college education. JMHO

As far as planning: I don't think poor planning has anything to do with his decision to keep his seat. I think the term selfish would be more appropriate. Leaving Atkinson without active representation on the board during his deployment is not fair to the taxpayers of Atkinson.

I just fail to see how Atkinson's interests are being served under these circumstances.

As far as waiting for the next election: A recall election could speed things up.

tim dziechowski said...

There is no provision in NH law for recall elections.

Anonymous said...

"The majority of the elected officials I'm aware of in southern NH don't have degrees either - and if they do, likely most don't have a degree related to the business of running a town or a board etc.."

This is a big part of the reason we have on going problems in our town and state. We have under qualified people doing jobs and we don't even know if some of them are qualified for the posts they claim. Too many under qualified people with agendas, like Baldwin, who don't care about the common good.

Anonymous said...

Hey 11:51 I didnt say anything about a degree, I said @ 7:40 that our town was too corrupt, specifically our PD to focus on TRSD

MAcciard said...

You don't need a degree, you need integrity, and that seems to be lacking as well.

Anonymous said...

Well put.

Anonymous said...

I disagree completely with Mr. Acciard. Perhaps he did not enjoy college or graduate school.

Having at least a college degree means you actually SUCCEEDED in obtaining a hard-won degree from hopefully, an institution of repute.

There are huge differences between between my friends who went to college and those who did not.

One task you learn in college is how to consider multiple possibilities from a philosophical perspective based on ethical concerns. You learn this by exposure to professors who have this context and ability.

Also important is you learn how to complete tasks on time with extraordinary follow through. (If you don't learn this, you don't complete your degree.)

You develop relationships with professors. (Not every student wins the confidence of his/her professors.) You, in fact, set up a "mentor" relationship from which you continue to learn from them for decades after college or graduate school. That is to say, the relationships with professors and colleagues go far beyond college and continue to inspire you to greater achievement for your entire life.

If you go to a good college and are a superior student, you learn how to read for content and context. In simple terms, you read Spinoza or history, or Organic Chemistry as you would READ A LOVE LETTER. You read the material forwards and backwards, plumb every word for hidden innuendo or meaning, draw innovative conclusions from the source text, and mull over it for weeks if not years.

Those who were not superior students and just managed to get through SOMEHOW by playing cards and drinking their way through have no idea of what they missed. They rarely accessed the compressed wisdom and knowledge found in books. (And most likely they were not the select two out of ten who actually matriculated.)

What is the education qualification for the local school board? Is it possible to insert as our representative, a high school drop-out instead of a perhaps C- high school graduate?

There is an alternative for our the current school board representative (and everyone else). GO TO SCHOOL! For example, you can enroll yourself in courses at the Harvard Extension program. What a brilliant idea! You are only 50 minutes away from Harvard.

Enrolling would impress other members of the board, the students who hear of it, and the general populace.

Ok. Now for the dark side. Take a look at the thought you just had when considering the possibility of your own enrollment at the Harvard Extension. Did you throw it out immediately like a rotten tomato found in the back of the fridge?

--To concress: Is your learning curve enhanced by great books? Will you commit to read something "heavy". That's the best way to begin educating yourself as well as keep educating yourself. A famous book is compressed wisdom.

NO! --Not "Catcher in the Rye."

MAcciard said...

To Anon at 10:35;

While I fully agree with your assessment of the benefits of college, The legal qualifications to run for school board do not include any of that. If a functional idiot ran for school board and was elected, that would be the standard as expressed by the voters.

It would be wonderful to have an educated school board chair, but these are no longer the days of Frank Kelcourse, and we have to make do with those who run.

My point about a degree not being necessary was simply that I believe, for any elected position, that character is far more important than advanced education. I believe that because if you have integrity and a moral code, than you will seek advice from those who are more expert than yourself in a particular issue, and you will make every possible effort to make the right decision.

Btw, in regards to your opinion about the education to be found in books, I also agree and three of my favorite books are; Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, and Democracy in America by Alexis de Toqueville.

Anonymous said...

Having a college education does not imply good character. If it were the case business and law schools would not need to create classes specifically to teach ethics.

Having good character does not imply intelligence. I know a lot of good people who are thoughtful, compassionate and honest. I also have to say some of these people are not the bright bulbs on the tree.

The points the Mark and several others have tried to make is that 1) For a person elected to the school board you'd like them to be effective and aggressive advocates for the taxpayers who elected them. You'd also like to know they are firing on all neurons. A college education shows that one has at least demonstrated that capability.

2) Integrity - A sorely lacking attribute all around it seems. In a perfect world an elected official is actually responsible to the people who elected them.

In this specific case I don't know the Lt. well enough to comment on his intelligence, so I won't. However, I think it is irresponsible of him to keep his seat on the school board while deployed. We're paying a great deal of money to educate our kids, but at the moment our town has no say in matter. I expect better from a public servant. I applaud his service and it not my intent to detract from that. That still does not make it right.

I sincerely hope that for the next election we have and educated person with integrity on the ballot from which to chose. If I recall, the Lt. ran unopposed last election.

Anonymous said...

If I remember correctly a few years ago, Acciard's wife ran against Baldwin. She, I think, has a couple of degrees, runs private schools for about 20 years, and coaches cheerleading. But once the Eagle tribune ran an article about Acciards wife running against Phil's right hand guy, It was all over. Plus the Trib, listed all of his accomplishments plus some made up stuff, and didn't even list her education or experience.

Anonymous said...

Ha ha

M. Acciard's wife would have that school board 'on the straight and narrow' in a hurry!!! She could easily do the job Baldwin abandoned. And what a great Atkinson select-person she would make. I'd watch every selectman's meeting to see her stomp out the bullsh-t.

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