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Former Manchester school superintendent Debra Livingston sues district

By MICHAEL COUSINEAU
New Hampshire Union Leader

September 21. 2017 8:31PM
Former Manchester school superintendent Debra Livingston is seeking payment for 5.5 hours of work that she did for an arbitration case, at a rate of $91 an hour, according to an invoice. 

MANCHESTER — Former school superintendent Dr. Debra Livingston is suing the school district for $590.50 after the school district and superintendent wouldn’t pay her for 5.5 hours of work for an arbitration case after she left the district, according to public records.

But her successor said the district doesn’t pay “superintendents to come back.”

Livingston, who retired last October, filed her complaint in small claims court after the school board refused to pay for her time, according to court documents.

“At no time was I informed by you that you would request unpaid service after my retirement,” Livingston wrote the school board June 21. “I simply responded to a reasonable request for service for which I expect reasonable compensation.”

On Aug. 14, the school board agreed “to pay meals and mileage to Dr. Livingston in accordance with school district policies and procedures,” according to draft minutes of that meeting.

The board voted 9-5 with one abstention.

Livingston, however, didn’t claim meals or mileage, but wanted to be paid for 5.5 hours at a rate of $91 an hour, according to an invoice included in the agenda for the Aug. 14 meeting. Her court complaint also is seeking the $90 filing fee.

Current superintendent Dr. Bolgen Vargas through a spokesman Thursday referred a reporter to board vice chairman Arthur Beaudry, who made the motion to cover the meals and mileage.

Beaudry and Livingston didn’t return phone messages Thursday.

According to the Aug. 14 minutes, Vargas told the school board: “My understanding is that you have a precedent here that you normally don’t pay superintendents to come back. When the request was made, I just asked for past practice. In my case I would tell you that I have provided services to my prior employer.”

Mayor Ted Gatsas, who chairs the school board, referred questions to the district’s attorney.

In her email to the school board, Livingston said she was “requested by school district counsel” to appear at a May 2 arbitration case.

Livingston’s invoice asked for 5.5 hours of pay: a half-hour for preparation with an attorney on April 27 and five hours for “travel and testimony” for an arbitration case May 2.

The New Hampshire Union Leader previously reported that Livingston’s yearly base salary for the period from July 1, 2015, through June 30, 2016, was $163,749.28.

Vargas at the board meeting said it was his understanding the $91 an hour rate Livingston sought was calculated based on her prior salary.

Pamela Hogan, the district’s director of human resources, sent Livingston a note saying that “your invoice for time and travel to the above hearing was not approved by the district superintendent’s office. The superintendent was advised that it is the normal practice to request unreimbursed time and testimony as a carryover of the past superintendent role.”

The school district has until Oct. 16 to file a response in court.

mcousineau@unionleader.com


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