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Interim superintendent who had been placed on leave in Claremont resigns

  • Interim SAU 6 Superintendent Keith Pfeifer at a board meeting in Claremont, N.H., on Dec. 19, 2018. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Correspondent
Friday, March 29, 2019

CLAREMONT — Interim SAU 6 superintendent Keith Pfeifer’s tenure in Claremont is over.

Pfeifer, who had been on paid leave following an incident in February that brought police to the SAU office, resigned on Thursday, the SAU announced on Friday.

The board said Assistant Superintendent Cory LeClair will act as superintendent and it will compensate her an additional $10,204 during her tenure, which is expected to end on June 30 when Mike Tempesta becomes the new superintendent.

On Friday, SAU 6 School Board Vice Chairwoman Marjorie Erickson said in an email the board “approved DRAFT contract language and an offer to be made to Mike Tempesta.

“We are now working with our lawyers to finalize the contract offer and negotiate terms with Mike,” Erickson wrote.

Tempesta, of Worcester, Mass., was hired by the board in an 8-3 vote on March 7, contingent upon reaching a contract agreement. LeClair was the other finalist.

Pfeifer had been on leave since an incident at the SAU 6 offices on Feb. 13, when an employee hit a silent panic alarm and police responded.

SAU officials have declined to discuss the incident, but a police report indicates he was placed on paid administrative leave and ordered to leave school headquarters because of “issues with other employees” in the building. Police later said they considered the matter closed once Pfeifer left the premises.

The SAU board hired Pfeifer in July at a salary of $90,000, following the ouster of Superintendent Middleton McGoodwin.

School officials declined to say whether Pfeifer’s resignation involved a financial agreement that extends his pay beyond Thursday.

“The SAU does not have further comment with regard to this personnel matter,” LeClair said in an email on Friday afternoon. A message left for Pfeifer’s attorney, Andru Volinsky, on Friday was not immediately returned.

At Thursday’s SAU meeting, Erickson informed the board that its attorney told them they had to make public the vote to hire Tempesta, which was done in nonpublic session. Newly elected SAU 6 Chairman Mike Petrin, of Claremont, read the vote into the record. Frank Sprague, of Claremont, and Unity members Erickson and Sarah Lowe, who did not seek re-election in March, voted against hiring Tempesta.

Claremont board members Rebecca Zullo and Jason Benware both said they stand behind their vote, but worried that the public could misread their reasoning, not having heard the discussion in nonpublic session.

“I think it is terrible and disrespectful for Cory to know who voted yes or no and for Mike to know who voted yes or no,” Zullo said. “It makes people feel someone is against them and that is not the intent. The public did not hear the presentation and see how we came to the determination.”

Zullo said she is “uncomfortable” with LeClair thinking she is not good enough or that Tempesta is a lot better.

Benware also said the context of the discussion is needed to understand the vote.

“Without the context, all you see is the result,” Benware said. “Releasing information without context I don’t think is useful.”

Erickson told the board the lawyer they hired said the vote needed to be public as per state law.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at pogclmt@gmail.com.