What is so bad in the Hampstead-Timberlane School Administrative Unit (SAU) that it requires total secrecy and a refusal to talk with the press?
What is so disturbing about the behavior of former SAU Board Chairman Jason Cipriano, a member in good standing of the Hampstead School Board, that he stepped down without warning – and without explanation – last week from the SAU Board chairmanship?
Why the long litany of “no comments” from top to bottom, school board member to superintendent? And yes, that is deliberate phrasing, putting the school board over the superintendent, whom it hires and is expected to supervise.
Or is it just a matter of the need to control every word that issues from the SAU? Are we just dealing with extreme control freaks?
And most importantly, how does this contribute to the education of the students in the SAU?
Should residents of Hampstead know why their school board member suddenly resigned from the SAU board chairmanship? Does whatever prompted his action impact his service as a member of both boards? If not, why is the silence allowed to remain in place and let these questions remain unanswered.
No one has answered any of these questions.
Instead, questions from the press are met with “no comment,” regardless of what kind of question is asked. A blog by a board member relates the resignation to displeasure with Cipriano’s comments to another newspaper, in an article relating to the superintendent’s overwhelmingly positive evaluation. The Tri-Town Times reported on the evaluation a week earlier and did not quote Cipriano, yet is still treated to “no comment” regarding the matter.
That’s a pretty broad brush to use, unless the superintendent does not think news media have any right to report on school district or school board business. And if that’s the case, that’s even more frightening.
A few weeks ago, we editorialized on the Timberlane board’s being required to sign an eight-point statement that centered on making sure only the board chair speaks to the press. With such an action infringing on free speech rights of board members, the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union stepped in and the board quickly made appropriate changes to its rules. Violating the Constitution is a big deal.
So what’s so different now?
We stand by the idea that newspapers, not school board chairs or superintendents, decide what information to print. Some news is good, some is not; some is handed to us, some requires investigative reporting. All deserve to be out there.