Thursday, March 29, 2012

Letter: ORCSD Treasurer Chosen in "Back-Room Deal"

Durham resident Jenna Roberts has asked that we post the following, which she also sent to the School Board:

Members of the ORCSD School Board:

The transparency of the District is called into question with the actions of the District staff and School Board regarding the appointment of the Board Officers last Wednesday. Most of these appointments are legally required and specify that any registered voter living in the District may quality for the positions (except staff and Board members). These positions are given a stipend and are required to have defined terms. Yet these positions have been secretly selected for many years and the practice continues. Here are the problems that must be addressed:

  • The positions are not made public.

  • There is no application process.

  • The criteria and qualifications of the positions are not defined.

  • The compensation and terms of the positions are not public.

  • The roles, responsibilities, expectations and relationship/accountability to the Board is undefined.

  • The selection process is not conducted in public (required by law and case law established in 2007, see DOJ memo).

The only position that had more than one applicant was the Treasurer and ultimately that was decided behind closed doors, too, which is not legal under RSA 91-A. The public has no way to know what criteria was used to determine the best candidate for the job. This is not open and transparent government.

If multiple candidates apply, people should be chosen based on the requirements/criteria for the position and the qualifications of the candidates. Finally, the selection process should be done transparently and openly as required by law. Given the way that this process took place, in non-public, it literally became a back-room deal.

Per your SB policy, I formally request that this topic be added to the next Board meeting agenda with the hope of developing a plan to remedy this situation and mitigate more legal action against this District.


Jenna Roberts



  1. I think Mr. David Taylor should be consulted right away. He has the most experience when it comes to these situations. I'm sure he will soon come forward with a plan. This board should not be able to just come in and start violating our Right To Know from the start. They need to understand that they will be held under the same standards as any previous boards. Violating the RTK with result in being sued by the community.

    Mr. Taylor?

  2. Mr. Wentworth,
    Please allow me to summarize a letter I wrote to the board yesterday. I informed them that allegations that they broke the Right to Know (rtk) law put them in good company. While the person or group of people who wrote the law had good intentions, the new board members are now aware that the law is vague, ambiguous and open to several interpretations. This law would ensnare any government body attempting to do good work. The intent of the board is not relevant under this law, and all seven members of this board have been enjoined. Anyone with an axe to grind could sue this board and probably win. The board would be held in contempt of court. As the husband of a board member, I hope this doesn't happen.

    I then stated my belief that Mr Taylor will not sue this board, because his intent was not to rid the world of RTK violations, but rather, a personal vendetta against Mr. Brackett. No school board in the state would have passed muster under Mr. Taylor's legal maneuvering. I also told the board they should be commended for spending massive amounts of time away from their families to serve this community. I do not believe the violation of the RTK law will be discussed by the public comment frequent fliers as " Nixonian" or " lawless." No one will step up to the podium and state they were unsure if this is "Libya" because of this RTK violation. This board will not live in trepidation of being humiliated individually or as a whole during public comments at board meetings by people who make doing so a favorite form of self entertainment. The silence will be deafening.
    Michael Lane

  3. Mr. Wentworth & Mr. Lane:

    My thanks to you both for your comments. I too, do not believe that David Taylor will sue this Board, in part because the intent of his suit the last time around was to ensure that we did not hire Dr. Morse as Superintendent. (Fortunately, he failed at that.) But whether or not David Taylor files another suit is less important, at least in my mind, than how this current Board reacts to the problem they have (unintentionally) created.

    Will the “FORE four” (now a majority on the Board, and holding both Chair and Vice-Chair) who ran on promises of openness and transparency, fulfill those pledges? Or will they revert to the bad old days when cronyism and corruption was protected, even encouraged?

    This disconnect between the campaign rhetoric and post-election reality is troubling, but it’s not too late for the Board to do the right thing: put this on the agenda for the next meeting, and re-run the selection process in public, as the law requires. Anything less would represent a serious breach of the trust we voters have placed in them.

    --Tom Bebbington