NASHUA — Following a contentious year, the Board of Education has selected a new leader to take the helm.
This week, school officials voted for Heather Raymond to fill the president’s seat. Raymond is taking over for Dotty Oden, who served as the board president for 2018.
“I am quite flattered to accept it,” Raymond said on Monday.
She is one of the newest members of the board, having served for only a year. Raymond has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and previously worked as a child protective services social worker. She also was previously employed at CASA of New Hampshire and the New Hampshire Division of Children Youth and Families.
“We have an obligation to do due diligence in overseeing the district,” Raymond told the board this week. “ … There are things that board members need to know in order to do our jobs effectively. I certainly wouldn’t put up barriers to people getting information they need.”
Raymond said she intends on meeting with Superintendent Jahmal Mosely on a regular basis to address agenda items and board member requests.
“My goal is to always follow the law,” she added.
Last year was a trying year for the Board of Education, as several negative situations took place that caused controversy among the group and throughout the school district.
Early in the year, Mosley had a no-trespass order issued against former board member George Farrington that prevented Farrington from entering the district’s administration offices. In return, Farrington later sued Mosely for $1.5 million for alleged civil rights violations.
Then, in April, a nonpublic session had been planned to discuss the Farrington matter when attorney Steve Bolton, the city’s legal counsel, abruptly walked out of the Board of Education meeting prior to the nonpublic session. Following the incident, Bolton said he believed that further discourse would have been nonproductive.
Last fall, in a separate incident, four school unions called for the resignation of board member Howard Coffman after he got down on all fours and started acting like a child during a board meeting’s brief recess. Coffman has not resigned from his seat.
Then, the New Hampshire Department of Education temporarily halted the processing of reimbursement requests for federal grant funds to the local school district following a misstep with the certification process; that issue has since been resolved.
“I am not suggesting that you do, but one thing to be careful of is micromanaging the school system,” Alderman Richard Dowd, liaison to the board, told the group this week. As a former school board member, Dowd urged the board to limit its meetings, reduce the number of data requests and address the majority of work at the committee level.
Raymond agreed that the board should not be micromanaging or second-guessing people hired by the district to do select jobs.
“For me, there is a hierarchy of priorities,” she said.