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Dover appealing superintendent score sheet ruling

Union Leader Correspondent

April 03. 2016 9:50PM
Officials in the city of Dover are appealing a ruling by Judge Brian Tucker at Strafford Superior Court, which allows for the release of score sheets used to select the city's school superintendent. (KIMBERLEY HAAS/Correspondent)

DOVER - Officials in the city of Dover are appealing a superior court judge’s ruling that score sheets used to select the city’s school superintendent should be made public under the state’s Right to Know laws.

Elaine Arbour was hired by the school board in the spring of 2014, after the board rejected two other candidates presented to them during a first round of interviews. Last year, she earned $136,220, and was one of the city’s highest paid employees.

On Friday, Jared Bedrick, who has a law firm in Manchester and represents Jeffrey Clay of Alton in the case, said Judge Brian Tucker ruled the public’s interest in the score sheets outweighed any privacy interests held by the candidates. He said that decision adheres with New Hampshire’s commitment to transparency.

“I think that if the city wins the appeal, it could be groundbreaking. It would be a departure from what the trial court believed was settled law,” Bedrick said.

The names of the candidates have been released. In the first round, Andrea Ange, Tonya Arnold, Maureen Binghman, Andrew Corey, Maria DiNola, Eric Ely, Wade Frogley, Donna Giangregorio, Mary Lyons, Richard Manley, Frank Mellaci, Reza Namin, Salvatore Petralia, Arthur Stellar and Robert Riley applied for the job.

Julie Kukenberger of Piscataway, N.J., and Louis Goscinski of Strafford, were recommended by a search committee but rejected after touring the district and going through an intense public interview with the school board.

Arbour applied for the job in the second round, along with Lewis Collins, David Foster, Jesse Hale, Anne Higgins, Val McKenney, Brian O’Connell, Aaron Randall, John Rizzo, Kenneth Vuletic and Michael Wombie.

Ely, Giangregorio, Namin and Stellar applied for the job again.

After a site evaluation by School Board Chair Amanda Russell, a tour of the district and two interviews with the board, Arbour, who served as an assistant superintendent at SAU 6 in Claremont, was able to secure the position and a $123,000 starting salary.

Since then, members of the public have been curious to find out who applied for the job, and how they were graded by the superintendent search committee prior to being presented to the school board.

This case will now go to the state’s Supreme Court.

Officials with the city of Dover contended during the Right to Know lawsuit that the scoring sheets should remain private because they are of internal personnel practices, and exempt from public disclosure under the law.

Education General News Claremont Dover