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Van Houten's suit: Manchester School Board conflict

November 14. 2013 11:19PM

From her answers to the Union Leader’s pre-election survey questions, new Manchester School Board member-elect Connie Van Houten sounds like someone who has much to contribute. But we guess our survey missed one relevant question: Are you suing the school district that you intend to help oversee?

Van Houten is doing just that. Her lawyer thinks the news media are having an “adverse and strange reaction to what we thought was a pretty routine matter.’’

We don’t think it is routine at all. It would have been helpful to voters of Ward 12 had Van Houten volunteered that information so that they could ask her about it. Is that why she ran? From what topics or issues might she recuse herself from voting or delving into as a result of her legal claim?

Van Houten alleges that she was not rehired last year at the Manchester Adult Education Center after she complained about a school district colleague not working a full shift. Funny, that in her resume for the newspaper, she lists herself as “retired’’ but says nothing about the alleged circumstances.

Her lawyer (servant of the people Van Houten isn’t talking about the matter) also presumes to instruct press and public on the meaning of “conflict of interest,’’ which he says his client doesn’t have by sitting on a school board she is suing.

“There’s sort of a misunderstanding,’’ he explained. “If the suit came before the board, there would be a conflict, and she would recuse herself.’’

But “beyond that, the heart of the suit is about the waste of taxpayer dollars. That’s the kind of thing the school board is going to be concerned with.’’

Indeed. That is precisely the kind of thing with which the school board should be concerned. But Van Houten is going to have a tough time demonstrating that her actions about the use or abuse of taxpayer dollars aren’t colored by her personal case and its outcome.

Education Politics Editorial Manchester

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