HOOKSETT — The troubled Hooksett School Board has now brought its problems to neighboring towns. In a district school board meeting with Auburn and Candia last week, and for the second night in a row, two Hooksett School Board members walked out of a meeting.
Hooksett School Board members David Pearl and John Lyscars walked out of Auburn’s Village School after Superintendent Charles Littlefield moved forward with a discussion about an anonymous complaint to the state Attorney General. The issue involved a Hooksett School Board member who voted to approve a list of school appointments that included a relative rather than asking for a recusal.
According to Hooksett School Board Chairman Trisha Korkosz, a letter from the AG’s office said the complaint did not warrant any action or intervention from the state. The letter also recommended the Hooksett board discuss the complaint with the school’s attorney.
Pearl and Lyscars said the discussion should take place in a non-public session to protect the employee, but because the employee wasn’t notified, a non-public session was not allowed.
Littlefield refused to postpone the discussion, saying he did not want to give the impression that he had mishandled an employee problem. He also insisted the discussion could move forward without bringing up any names.
“Dr. Littlefield was concerned something would be misconstrued,” said Korkosz. “He chose his words very carefully to protect the identity of the employee.”
Korkosz also said the complaint was about the vote, and not about the employee’s job performance or any other personnel issues.
Pearl was the first to leave the meeting saying he objected to Littlefield’s banging his hand on the table for emphasis. Lyscars left several minutes later saying he did not feel comfortable with the discussion.
Pearl and Lyscars also refused to attend a workshop on high school issues the day before. Both members said Korkosz had ended a regular school board meeting without considering a motion to extend the time, and both asked her for an apology.
Korkosz said a three-fifths vote of the board was needed to keep the meeting running. However, an unexpected vacancy has left the board with only four members, making any three-fifths vote impossible.
Although such skirmishes have been common at Hooksett School Board meetings for the past several months, it was new territory for the members from Auburn and Hooksett.
Nicole LaFlamme, vice chairman of the Candia board, said that members of the Hooksett school board were wreaking havoc on the administration, and interfering with Littlefield’s administrative services to the district’s two other towns.
Korkosz acknowledged the Hooksett Board struggles with the line between their role as policy makers and the superintendent’s role as an administrator.
“All of our board members are passionate about what they do,” she said. “And when you have that level of passion, emotions get in the way.”
Pearl described himself as a “stickler for procedure” and many of the board’s battles have come down to conflicts over process rather than substance.
“We have some very big issues on our horizon,” said Korkosz referring to the high school contract dispute with Manchester.
“We need to move forward, and that involves letting go of some things in the past,” she said. “Everyone needs to come to the table and agree to work together.”