By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN
ALTON — The rift on the School Board widened this week when three of its members — Steve Miller, Sandy Wyatt and Terri Noyes — agreed to reconvene the meeting that was recessed on April 4 on Monday, April 25 without consulting the other two members of the board — Peter Leavitt and Michael Ball — neither of whom will be able to attend.
The earlier meeting was recessed when the four members present reached a stalemate in seeking to elect a chairperson. With Noyes absent, Wyatt nominated Miller, the outgoing chairperson, for another term while Ball nominated Leavitt. The board divided evenly, prompting Superintendent Maureen Ward, who is authorized to conduct the election then surrender the chair to the newly elected chairperson, to abruptly recess the meeting.
The following week the Alton Teachers Association hosted a public meeting and called on parents and residents to urge the board to schedule a meeting and elect Leavitt to the chair as soon as possible.
Leavitt said yesterday that he learned by a voice mail on April 18 that the meeting will reconvened on April 25, the first day of the school vacation week. The agenda includes election of a chairperson, approving some hires, accepting some resignations and "a couple of non-public items." He said that he consulted an attorney with the New Hampshire School Boards Association who advised him that by communicating to schedule the meeting the three board members held a meeting in violation of the Right-to-Know Law (RSA 91-A).
Leavitt said that he asked Ward why neither he nor Ball, both of whom were elected to the board in March, were not contacted about scheduling the meeting. He said that she told him that "once a quorum is reached, the meeting is set and there is no need to contact all the members." He added that he asked to meet with Miller and Wyatt, but has received no reply.
Ward did not return calls Wednesday and Miller could not be reached.
Leavitt, a firefighter scheduled to work a shift on April 25 while Ball has booked a trip to Florida with his daughter, who recently underwent medical treatment.
Leavitt said he expected that when the three members of the board meet next week they will re-elect Miller chairperson, which will harden dissension among the members. He said that he has spoken to officials at the New Hampshire Department of Education who advised him that the matter was for local officials to resolve.
Controversy pitting parents and teachers on the one hand against the school board and superintendent on the other has escalated since February when more than 250 petitioners expressed no confidence in the superintendent and her administration and presented seven other demands. The board has yet to respond to the petition.
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