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Nashua city attorney walks out on school board

By KIMBERLY HOUGHTON

Union Leader Correspondent

April 18. 2018 10:42PM




NASHUA — The city’s attorney abruptly walked out on the Board of Education earlier this week in the latest in a series of contentious clashes.

Attorney Steve Bolton was invited to a special meeting of the board on Monday that was to be followed by a non-public session to discuss legal matters.

“I believed that further discourse would be nonproductive,” Bolton said Wednesday of his early departure Monday.

During Monday’s public session, Bolton was asked several legal questions by board members, such as what can and cannot take place during nonpublic sessions, what type of votes can be made and the sealing of minutes.

During that discussion, Howard Coffman, a member of the school board, raised an issue that had occured during a committee meeting earlier this month where he had requested to read a written statement into the record. At the time, the board president was only seeking reaction to the superintendent’s prior comments so Coffman was ruled out of order.

“I wanted my comments added to the record,” Coffman told Bolton, asking how he could get a statement added to the minutes or on the record. Coffman suggested that perhaps he should write an email to board members so that it would become a public document.

That’s when Bolton cut him off.

“I thought we already talked about this, Mr. Coffman,” the attorney said. “You are not supposed to send emails to the entire board.”

“Excuse me, Mr. Bolton, please don’t interrupt me,” Coffman shot back.

“I am finished tonight. I am going home,” replied Bolton, who then stood up from the table, retrieved his coat and departed.

Coffman appeared surprised.

“We can’t do that,” he said. “We can’t just leave. I don’t care if you do or not, that is up to you Mr. Bolton. I am sad to see that you are going to leave.”

Board President Dotty Oden said Bolton had been invited to the gathering and ruled Coffman out of order.

Coffman insisted that he did nothing to antagonize Bolton, although Oden disagreed.

“I am sorry that Mr. Bolton left, but I do not feel responsible for Mr. Bolton leaving,” said Coffman, who went on to claim that Oden’s previous action was a form of censorship.

Oden said she has not censored anyone, adding Bolton’s presence was necessary in order to gather necessary legal advice.

The board opted not to go into nonpublic session as scheduled since the attorney was no longer available.

“You didn’t have to do that … you are always monopolizing every single board meeting,” Gloria Timmons, board member, told Coffman.

Raymond Guarino said there was no longer a reason to continue the discussion.

“We are just going back and forth. We are just rehashing old fights,” said Guarino, calling on board members to be more respectful of one another.

Monday’s incident comes about two weeks after a former school board member, George Farrington, was issued a no-trespass order at the request of Superintendent Jahmal Mosley, which prevents Farrington from entering the school administrative offices at 141 Ledge St. for one year.

Mosley contacted police on March 29 stating that Farrington was at his office and “being disorderly,” at which time Mosley hung up the phone, according to a police report filed by officer Jaime Abrams of the Nashua Police Department. According to the report, Mosley “would provide limited information and hang up.”

Farrington was at the office to pick up requested documents, at which time he received permission from a receptionist to visit a friend in the back office who was retiring.

“George bagan to walk back to the office when he was stopped by Dr. Mosley. George stated Dr. Mosley became very upset and demanded he leave,” said the report, adding Farrington insisted that it was a public building and refused to leave.

Four police officers responded to 141 Ledge St. There, Mosley claimed Farrington created “an unsafe working environment for the employees within the building” when he entered the superintendent’s suite, according to the police report.

khoughton@newstote.com


Education Local and County Government Nashua


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