No More Business as Usual

There’s hardly any meeting of the Timberlane Regional School Board or the School Administrative Unit (SAU) 55 board, which includes both Hampstead and the Timberlane towns (Sandown, Danville, Atkinson and Plaistow), that doesn’t involve some kind of inappropriate exchange between the superintendent and Sandown board member Donna Green if she is in attendance. And while it’s become so routine that it almost doesn’t merit mentioning, it takes away from credibility and the business at hand.

Green questions just about everything either board does. Some questions could easily never see the light of day, but others are significant and deserve more than an insult for an answer. But all are treated the same.

While gadflies often are discounted the moment they open their mouths, Green doesn’t deserve to be called names or referred to in a derogatory manner, and certainly not by the superintendent or a fellow board member.

At a recent Timberlane board meeting, Superintendent Earl Metzler referred to Green as a “rogue board member” – contrasting that to “the actual board.” At last week’s SAU meeting, he said most Right-to-Know requests were the work of “a cohort of obstructionists.”

In neither case did he mention Green by name, but it would be hard to imagine to whom he was referring if not her.

And in both cases, Green felt compelled to respond, first saying she was not to be referred to as “rogue,” and last week stating that Metzler’s comment was disrespectful. It was.

In neither case did the board chairman seek to mitigate the discord.

And while Metzler rightfully says he takes direction from “the actual board,” it’s worth reminding him – and the rest of the board – that Green was lawfully elected to her seat on the “actual board” as a representative of Sandown.

Similarly, when it came time for board members’ appointments to committees a few weeks ago, Green’s name was omitted from almost all seats, while all other board members were given multiple placements. A coincidence?

This kind of sandbox behavior has no room in the boardroom and no place in guiding the education of students.

And this isn’t new behavior. The board and superintendent are doing their best to marginalize Green and to discount her. Yet her Right-to-Know fight against Metzler and the SAU was validated by the New Hampshire Supreme Court just this month.

District officials don’t have to like Green and may be comfortable viewing her constant questioning as annoying, but they need to behave as respectful adults. That means skipping the flippant remarks and sarcasm and paying attention to every board member’s concerns, including Green’s.

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