Teacher survey reflects a "caustic environment"


ALTON — A survey conducted by the Alton Teachers Association revealed what Richard Brown, president of the association, describes as a "caustic environment" at Alton Central School, the responsibility for which he said "falls on the superintendent's desk."

Maureen Ward, the superintendent of schools, could not be reached to comment on the survey.

The survey, which was conducted in February and March, drew responses from 38 of the 44 teachers and support staff at Alton Central School.

The survey posed four questions to teachers, one about their relationships with their peers, two sounding their opinion of the administration and the fourth measuring morale among teachers, support staff, students and administrators. Teachers were also invited to comment in response to each question as well as to offer remarks at the end of the survey.

Nearly three-quarters of teachers agreed or strongly agreed that that their fellow teachers treated them with respect and nine of ten said that their peers listened when they offered suggestions for "doing things better." One teacher commented "I strongly believe that one of the objectives of the administration was to create a divide and that is being accomplished," which was echoed by three others, one whom wrote "Some are targeted and some not."

Asked if they work with an administration that respects them, the teachers were divided, with 38 percent disagreeing or strongly disagreeing and 34 percent agreeing or strongly agreeing and the remainder neutral. Of the 38 respondents, 16 offered comments. One referred to a "culture of intimidation" and called the administrators "the least effective group of administrators I have ever worked with." Another said "I have yet to meet the superintendent" while a third described the administration as "not approachable." But, one teacher insisted "I have felt nothing but respect from our administrators" while another expressly confined criticism to the superintendent.

More than eight of ten teachers disagreed or strongly disagreed that the administration communicates effectively, operates under a shared vision for the school and helps teachers fulfill their vision. Seven in ten disagreed or strongly disagreed that the administrators valued input from teachers and parents.

"There is no shared vision as parents, teachers, support staff and more have not been allowed to be part of the process," commented one teacher, an opinion expressed by more than a half-dozen others. "Communication is abysmal," a teacher wrote, "and I do mean ABYSMAL."

More than eight of ten teachers and seven of ten support personnel disagreed or strongly disagreed that their morale is high.

"How could it be high?" asked one teacher, while another declared "Morale is the lowest I have ever seen it on all fronts" and another offered "Everyone seems miserable except for admin."

Many of the general comments touched on the theme that the administration, primarily the superintendent, has failed to establish sound relationships with teachers while at the same time fostering division among them. "A select chosen few have been pulled into the inner circle and are clearly getting preferential treatment," wrote one teacher.

However, a colleague remarked "I feel as if those teachers who are happy do not feel comfortable speaking out because they do not want to offend other teachers who are more vocal about their unhappiness."

"It is just an awful place to be right now," a teacher wrote. " A really awful place."

Laconia police charge Tilton felon with possession of loaded handgun


LACONIA — A Tilton man has been charged with one count of being in possession of a firearm after a city police officer saw him in his car near Stark Street at 7:34 p.m. and knew there was a warrant for his arrest.

Police affidavits said Izaiah J. Conway, 19, of 957 Laconia Road in Tilton headed up Stark Street and was stopped just over the town line by a second city police officer.

He was arrested for an outstanding bench warrant issued by the Division of Probation and Parole on April 1 for failing to report his new address, for failing to allow the probation officer to enter his home after she learned where he was living, and for admitting that he used methamphetamine on March 8 and heroin on March 9.

Police said when Conway pulled over his car, he was parked halfway over the fog line and was alone, so police ordered that the car be towed.

While conducting a non-investigatory inventory search, the officer found a black backpack in the trunk. When he looked inside, he allegedly saw a pipe with burned residue and a black pouch. The officer seized the backpack so he could bring it to the police station and apply for a warrant to complete the search.

The inventorying officer also noticed the glove box "was jammed and zip-tied" shut. He said he was able to slightly pry open the glove box and noticed a black, textured item that appeared to be the grip of a handgun with a magazine inserted. Affidavits said Springfield Armory was stamped on the bottom of the gun.

Police told the tow company they were impounding the vehicle and arranged for it to be towed to the Laconia Police Department impound.

After getting a warrant, police found a .45 caliber Springfield Armory .45 that was loaded with a full clip and a bullet in the chamber. A second, loaded magazine was found in a tactical belt.

In the backpack, police found several needles, and some 1-inch by 1-inch clear plastic bags. He also found two small bags, one containing a substance that appeared to be heroin and the other containing a substance that appeared to be Suboxone.

After appearing before a 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division judge Friday morning, Conway was held on $10,000 for the receiving stolen property and $5,000 for the parole/probation violations.

Conway, said police, had a prior felony drug conviction in December of 2015.

Jury selection for man charged in 2014 home invasion postponed


LACONIA — Jury selection for accused armed robber and burglar Tyler Twombly, 31, of 76 County Drive has been continued from this Monday until May 16.

Twombly is accused of being one of two masked men who entered a home on Harvard Street in 2014 and shooting or hitting one of four other men who were there while he robbed him.

He was identified as one of the men, said court documents, after his DNA was found on a red bandana that was located by a police K-9 shortly after the indicted was reported.

The case has been slowed by the number of witnesses identified by the state who have said they need immunity in order to be able to testify. To date, there are five possible witnesses who have asked for immunity including the three men who were in the home at the time of the robbery. One of the three was injured by either a gunshot or some kind of blow to his head and the homeowner's son has already been granted immunity.

Hearings for the other two men are scheduled for Monday at 1:30 p.m.

Assistant Belknap County Attorney Carley Ahern recently identified two women who could also be witnesses against Twombly but may have Fifth Amendment issues regarding their testimony.

Additionally, Twombly's attorney, Mark Sisti, has identified one witness whom he would like indemnified but who has recently been charged as being an accomplice to the robbery and burglary.

He has filed a motion to compel the state to grant immunity to Joshua Pike, 29, of or formerly of 103 Blueberry Lane so he can testify on behalf of Twombly.

Pike has told police on two separate occasions that he was in the home and was the one who answered the door, allowing Twombly and a second, as yet unidentified man, to enter. He has told police that the man holding the gun had initially pointed it at him and that he is also a victim.

City police believe Pike is a co-conspirator of Twombly's and have charged him with one count of conspiracy to commit burglary, one count of conspiracy to committee robbery and one count of conspiracy to commit first-degree assault. He has not been indicted by a grand jury for these allegations.

Ahern has objected to giving Pike immunity, saying criminal defendants do not have a right to immunity if they are defense witnesses while Sisti has argued that in this case the evidence Pike would provide is exculpatory and presents a highly material variance from the state's case.

She noted that Pike believes that Twombly has "put out a $10,000 'hit'" on him and she doesn't feel he should be compelled to testify. Pike is not a prosecution witness.

Ahern said Sisti has failed to offer any new information that varies widely from the state's case and he doesn't need immunity.