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Months-old Facebook post leads to investigation of Timberlane school board candidate

Union Leader Correspondent

February 06. 2018 11:30PM
Maxann Dobson, a candidate for Timberlane Regional School Board, is facing a complaint about a message she posted on Facebook more than 10 months ago. (Courtesy)

PLAISTOW — A parent volunteer and candidate for the Timberlane Regional School Board is now under investigation by the school district administration for a Facebook post more than 10 months old that some viewed as threatening to a student.

Maxann Dobson was notified via email on Feb. 3 that a complaint was made to the School Administrative Unit 55 office alleging that she made a “public threat” to a student in the district.

The email from SAU Human Resource Director Nancy Louiselle advised that, because of the nature of the allegation, Dobson’s access to school property would be restricted to dropping off and picking up her third-grade daughter from Pollard School and that “any deviation from this directive” would require written permission from Superintendent Dr. Earl Metzler.

Dobson, 33, said she believes the complaint was politically motivated since it came after she announced plans to run for school board on Jan. 30. Furthermore, she said, concerns over the post were addressed last year.

“This was resolved with the school principal back in April and now all of a sudden I announce my candidacy for school board and there’s an investigation against me,” she said.

The investigation stems from the Facebook post in which Dobson referred to an unnamed student as a “little s—t” who had stated that her daughter “looks like an old lady.” She went on to say that she would be chaperoning a field trip the next day and that “karma’s a b—h.”

Dobson claims she was simply venting on Facebook because her daughter had been a constant target of bullying and that she didn’t feel the school was handling it properly.

Dobson, who volunteers as a classroom parent at the elementary school, insists that the post wasn’t meant to be a threat. It was brought to the attention of Pollard School principal Michelle Auger at the time, Dobson said, and after addressing concerns she was still allowed to chaperone and the “year went on without any incident.”

A screenshot of her Facebook post surfaced again on Saturday in a community forum when it was shared by outgoing school board member Peter Bealo.

While the issue was addressed last year, Metzler said he heard about it for the first time late last week when other parents complained.

He said he “can’t speak to their motivation or timing.”

“People feel it’s political because of the school board race. It’s not a factor for me. I found out and now I have to take action,” Metzler said.

Metzler said he has questions about how the Facebook post was handled by the school and whether “volunteers in school should have access to our children when they write things like this.”

Metzler said the investigation will be conducted by Human Resources and another member of the administrative staff. They will compile a report with possible recommendations.

Metzler said he’s not sure how long the investigation will take, but acknowledged that it could last beyond the March election.

“In a perfect world we could do it in several hours, but obviously it takes some time,” he said.

Regarding the school access restrictions, Metzler said they won’t interfere with Dobson attending events with her daughter at school. She can also still visit the nurse’s office to provide medication for her daughter, and can attend Thursday’s school deliberative session.

The Facebook investigation has taught Dobson at least one lesson.

“I’m learning, since I’m now in the public eye because I’m running for school board, everything you do is under public scrutiny,” she said.

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