NASHUA — A school official says he was forced to file a Right-to-Know request with the district and, as a result, may now have to pay more than $50 in exchange for the documents.
“It is unfortunate that an elected official must resort to filing a Right-to-Know request to get information needed to perform their duty with due diligence,” said Howard Coffman, member of the Nashua Board of Education.
After 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, Coffman filed a Right-to-Know request last month seeking all documents related to the General Assurances certification, as well as other information.
On Thursday, Superintendent Jahmal Mosley contacted Coffman to inform him that the documents requested were ready to be picked up at the school district’s central office. He also noted in an email to Coffman that the information Coffman was seeking was discussed repeatedly at numerous board meetings.
“Generating your request took the superintendent administrative assistants’ time from the district operations and initiatives,” Mosley wrote, adding staff spent more than six hours fulfilling Coffman’s request.
In addition, Mosley stated that the school district has the authority to charge Coffman for copies made associated with the request totaling $52.40 — a charge that would first need to be approved by the Board of Education.
Coffman said he was surprised to learn that he might owe more than $50 for a Right-to-Know request, adding he was not informed in advance of any costs associated with it.
“Additionally, I will state now that the amount request constitutes a hardship, and I request a waiver of the fee,” Coffman wrote in an email to the superintendent.
After requesting that the documents be emailed to him directly, a courier driver delivered the paperwork to Coffman’s home late last week, according to Coffman, who said he does not currently feel safe entering the district’s central office, in part because the unions recently called for his resignation.
Furthermore, Coffman said he fears he will have a similar fate as former board member George Farrington. Earlier this year, Mosley had a no-trespass order issued preventing Farrington from entering the district’s administration offices; Farrington is now suing Mosley for $1.5 million for alleged civil rights violations, claiming Mosley’s actions amounted to First Amendment retaliation and abuse of process while denying him due process.
“My perception of the inherent hostility in the district office negatively impacts my ability to perform my duty as an elected official,” said Coffman.
Mosley stressed earlier that all of the information sought by Coffman in the Right-to-Know request has been provided, and that the majority of the board was satisfied with the general assurances and signed off on the document.
The board reviews general assurances periodically, according to Mosley, who said earlier that the information was reviewed in April, September and October, explaining board members know the content of the grants.