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Gilford man waives arraingment on charges he displayed disorderly conduct at school board meeting; Sisti to defend

LACONIA — Three misdemeanor B complaints for disorderly conduct have been filed against William Baer, the parent of a ninth grade student who objected to the Gilford School District making "Nineteen Minutes" a book by N.H. author Jodi Picoult mandatory reading.

Each of the three complaints obtained from the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division offers a different theory of Baer's alleged misconduct.

The first charges he purposely caused a breach of the peace by disrupting a Gilford School Board meeting after "having been asked to desist by School Board Chair Sue Allen."

The second states that Baer "refused to comply with a lawful order of a peace officer, to-wit James Leach" to move from a public place while a third version states that he "purposely caused a breach of the peace by disrupting" the school board meeting after being asked to desist by Allen.

Baer verbally interrupted another resident who was speaking at the Gilford School Board meeting on May 5.

According to two separate videos of the meeting, both posted online, Baer had already spoken to the board at the time of the incident, trying to get them to read aloud the waiver form regarding the book and it's possible disturbing content that had been sent to parents.

Allen refused to read the waiver and continually reminded Baer that he had a total of two minutes to make any comments he wished.

Seemingly frustrated, Baer returns to his seat.

A different parent — the mother of a ninth grade boy — then said she was appalled by the book and the lack of information about its content sent home to parents.

Speaking next, from a standing position in front of his seat, Joe Wernig agreed that the School Board and the administration may have made a mistake about the notification but then took the position that people like Baer and the woman who spoke after him would be dictating what books the School District could teach.

While Wernig was talking, Baer loudly commented from his seat that Wernig's assertion was "absurd". Over the verbal protestations of Allen, who keep saying "please sir, please sir," Baer continued to talk.

One view shows Superintendent Ken Hemingway throwing his hands up in a brief motion of frustration and then motioning with one hand toward the direction where Lt. Leach was standing off to the side.

After a few seconds, Leach came over to where Baer was seated and Baer said to the board, "Why don't you have me arrested, that's a real civics lesson."

While, Allen attempted to recognize the next person who wanted to speak, Leach asked Baer to leave the room a few times before grabbing his hand and leading him out his seat, which was in the middle of second to last row in the Gilford Elementary School Library. Leach escoreted Baer out of the room and handcuffed him with his hands behind his back in the hallway. A video shows Leach leading Baer to his cruiser and then removing the cuffs and recuffing him with his hands in the front after Baer told him he had a pinched nerve in his neck.

Baer has retained attorney Mark Sisti to represent him and has an arraignment day of June 17.

"We very much look forward to litigating this matter," Sisti said yesterday. "We have waived arraignment and entered not guilty pleas to all three complaints."

 
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