Lebanon School Board Divided Over Hiring of AD
Nomination Stalls Amid Debate Over Process
three Lebanon School Board members vote to approve the nomination of Barrett Williams for the position of Lebanon High School Athletics Director during a board meeting at Seminary Hill School in West Lebanon on August 14, 2013. The 4-4 vote effectively tabled the nomination, which will be revisited at a later date. From left: Richard Milius, Christina Haidari, Bob McCarthy, and Lori Hibner. Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage Purchase photo reprints »
West Lebanon — The School Board reached an impasse last night, effectively killing a motion to hire a search committee’s choice for a new athletic and co-curricular director for the high school.
Board members emerged from a more than two hour long nonpublic session visibly agitated Wednesday night, and shortly thereafter split 4-4 on the nomination of Sharon Elementary School Principal Barrett Williams to serve as athletic director of Lebanon High School.
Richard Milius, Christina Haidari, Lori Hibner and Jeff Peavey voted to approve the nomination.
Hank Tenney, Doug Preston, Suzan Louzier and Bob McCarthy voted against.
Kathleen Berger was not present at the meeting, and did not return a message seeking comment late Wednesday night.
No board members raised questions or concerns about Williams’ qualifications as athletic director, but instead focused entirely on the process that led to his nomination.
At the outset of the meeting, McCarthy vented his frustration over the nomination process to Superintendent Gail Paludi and Business Administrator Jim Fenn.
“I cannot begin to tell you how disappointed I am in the selection process,” said McCarthy, who added that his phone has “rang off the walls” since an article appeared in Saturday’s Valley News indicating that Williams had been nominated for the position.
Prior to the nonpublc session, McCarthy indicated that he was looking for changes to the selection process, and would not vote for the nominee until a consensus was reached between board members and school administrators on how that would be accomplished.
Williams attended part of the nonpublic session, but he did not return after it was ended for the public portion of the meeting.
“The candidate being brought forth tonight might be the best we can get,” McCarthy said. “However, unless we are told an outline on how this process will be done in the future ... I will not condone what is done.”
On June 4, Kelly Carey, who had held the job for six years, submitted her resignation to take the job of assistant principal at Plymouth Elementary School. The School Board accepted her resignation on June 5, according to Paludi, who added that the posting for the job opening “went out shortly after that,” though she did not have the exact date.
The position at the high school is slightly higher profile than many other communities, as the athletic director is in charge of all co-curricular activities and therefore must have a New Hampshire principal’s administrator certification.
The committee, which included “representation from various constituencies, coaches, cocurricular advisors, teachers, parents, community and administrators,” was put together by Lebanon High School Principal Nan Parsons.
Paludi said that the initial response fielded many candidates, but not many of them had the certification requirement. She said that the goal was to bring at least four candidates to the committee to review, and that did not happen until “shortly after the interviews took place.”
The first meeting of the interviewing committee, according to Paludi, took place on July 23.
McCarthy last night contended that at least one member of the School Board should be on “any search committee from vice principals on up.”
After the meeting, Peavey said that there is no policy on the books requiring a board member to be a part of any hiring committee.
McCarthy said that residents had questions about the selection process.
“Unfortunately, I could not answer any of the questions asked to me because, like my colleagues, I knew absolutely nothing,” he said.
Tenney, a longtime youth sports coach, said he too was caught off guard by the appearance of the article in the newspaper, and that the nomination process made him “very uncomfortable.”
“I’m just very upset with the process that we used and what went on and what was done and how late it was done,” Tenney said, echoing concerns from McCarthy about the selection process.
After the deadlocked vote, Peavey said that the board will discuss the appointment again at an upcoming meeting.
Ben Conarck can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-727-3213.