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School unions seek resignation of Nashua school board member

By KIMBERLY HOUGHTON
Union Leader Correspondent

October 11. 2018 6:52PM




NASHUA — Four school unions are calling for the resignation of a Nashua Board of Education member.

The request comes about a month after Howard Coffman, school board member, got down on all fours and started acting like a child during a board meeting’s brief recess.

“Over the last several months, Mr. Coffman has repeatedly demonstrated behavior that is unbecoming of an elected official,” the unions said in a joint statement released this week.

Those unions include the Nashua Teachers’ Union, the Nashua Association of School Principals, the Nashua Custodians Union and the Nashua Association of School Administrators and Directors.

Adam Marcoux, president of the NTU, told the Board of Education this week that Coffman behaves not only unprofessionally, but in an inappropriate manner that makes others feel their safety is in jeopardy.

Marcoux claims that Coffman interrupts board members, showcases his political philosophy with lengthy speeches that take away time from focusing on students, uses disrespectful language and makes repeated and numerous requests for information with no regard as to the necessity of the information.

“The students and employees of the Nashua School District and the residents of the city of Nashua deserve a school board that works together moving our district forward,” said Marcoux.

Coffman was not present for Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting.

A police investigation was launched last month after city police were called to a school board meeting.

According to a police report highlighting the incident, witnesses told authorities that Coffman, during a break in the Sept. 10 meeting, “got on all fours” while shouting to the effect, “I’m going to act like a child.”

The scene took place after board member Gloria Timmons told Coffman and another board member that they were acting rude, and like children, according to the police report.

Coffman, at a public meeting two weeks later, acknowledged that an “unfortunate set of events took place” that prompted the panic alarm to be triggered and police to respond. Coffman said at the time that in order to understand the board’s dysfunction, the root of the problem lies in emails dating back to last December; he claims that some emails from Timmons are harassing.

“I have been, over the last three weeks, contemplating how to continue on with the things that I have witnessed at the board level,” Superintendent Jahmal Mosley said this week. “ … What I read in that police report and what I witnessed was not OK, and it is not indicative of us and I believe that we are much better than what has been portrayed and demonstrated at this board level.”

Mosley said school officials and school unions are united in making sure that the district moves forward.

Raymond Guarino, board member, said the BOE needs to set a better example for city students.

“People might have their differences, but I have never seen or dealt with the behavior I have had to deal with on the board,” said Dotty Oden, board president.

Coffman said that he does not serve at the whim or desire of the unions, district administration or other board members. Marcoux’s request for Coffman’s resignation is simply intended to deflect attention from the real issues at hand, according to Coffman.

“I want it to be clear that I represent the people of Nashua who elected me to the Board of Education for a four-year term,” Coffman said on Thursday. “I serve at the will of the electorate. My seat is up for election 15 months from now. Please know that I fully intend to complete my term.”

“I make no apology that I hold the district administration and board members to a high standard of transparency, accountability and fairness. I see this as my primary responsibility and will continue to do so,” he added.

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