Northwood school board censures member; blame for buses goes round and round

  • Northwood elementary school assistant prnicipal Adrian Alford talks with a Dial bus on Monday, August 28, 2017 as they drop off students on the first day of school. GEOFF FORESTER

Monitor staff
Published: 9/22/2017 12:01:56 AM

Tim Jandebeur was censured during a Northwood school board meeting Thursday night in a 3-1 vote, following allegations that “inflammatory” letters he wrote in a local newspaper prevented the school district from contracting enough bus drivers to transport its students.

“His toxic, unprofessional presence on the board has irreparably injured both the district and community at large,” school board member Keith McGuigan read from a prepared statement Thursday. “The town would benefit from having a new, constructive-minded member that values education and respects the community.”

Jandebeur, who did not attend Thursday’s meeting, started writing letters to the editor critiquing the district’s management of Northwood in the Suncook Valley Times on Aug. 16.

In April, Northwood Transportation Inc. a family-owned company that had transported Northwood students for 54 years, asked to be released from its three-year contract a year early for financial reasons. After the district was unable to hire enough drivers at regular hours, officials delayed the start of the school year and pushed back the start of the school day by two hours. Dail Transportation, based in Epsom, agreed to have drivers come over to Northwood after they finished their regular routes in other towns.

McGuigan said the district had been in the middle of negotiations that would allow four drivers that work for Dail to bus Northwood students, but those negotiations fell through after Jandebeur’s letter was published.

In his letters, Jandebeur said he was “disgusted with both Northwood Transportation and the drivers,” who he said were requesting additional bonuses to the $3,000 the district was offering them – twice the amount they would make at Dail, Jandebeur wrote.

Cheryl Dean, parent of a former Northwood student, said that it is a “cowardly” to take a vote concerning Jandebeur when he wasn’t present.

Dean also said it wasn’t fair – she cited emails obtained through a right-to-know request that she said revealed that the Dail drivers negotiating with Northwood actually declined the board’s offer to drive for the district the week before Jandebeur wrote his first letter to the editor.

Dean said if anyone is to blame for problems with the bus system, it’s Superintendent Bob Gadomski and the other school board members – not Jandebeur.

“He’s the only form of transparency we have in that school board, which is why they don’t like him,” she said. “They’re making him a scapegoat.”

Northwood resident Joe McCaffrey suggested that the board wait to take action on Jandebeur until he could be present, then make an open public case for accusations against him. He said he knew everyone working on the bus issue had the best in mind for the school.

“There’s a lot of people trying hard at various levels,” he said. “The problem is, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

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