Conway School Board - Randy Davison

Conway School Board member Randy Davison abstained from a vote electing MWV Career Tech teachers for the 2019-20 school year because he could not support the election of advanced metals teacher Andy Shaw, who is serving a suspension from the district. (LLOYD JONES PHOTO)

CONWAY — Conway School Board member Randy Davison balked at the election of teachers for the MWV Career and Technical Center on Monday night.

He abstained from the vote because he said he could not support the election of advanced metals teacher Andy Shaw, who is currently serving a suspension from the school district.

Shaw, who was charged last November with hosting a drinking party with underage guests and threatened with being fired by School Superintendent Kevin Richard, was suspended after a Jan. 31 hearing by the school board.

Shaw has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting his day in court.

On Monday, school board chair Joe Lentini asked his colleagues to elect teaching staff for the 2019-20 school year.

Beginning with Kennett High staff, the board approved the group election by a 5-0-1 vote. Davison abstained from that vote because his wife, Dr. Therese Davison, teaches at the school, and school board member Michelle Capozzoli was absent from the meeting.

Next up was electing the teaching staff for the MWV Career and Technical Center.

Davison, the longest serving member of the board,moved to do one of the teacher recommendations individually. “I have a concern with one member on the list, and I will be voting no,” he said, naming Andrew Shaw as the subject of his concern.

Board member Joe Mosca pointed out there had not been a second to Davison’s motion. Lentini asked for a second, and after a brief pause new board member Cheri Sullivan, who was Skyping into the meeting, offered a second.

“I’m not going to go into major detail, but there is a lot of experienced and well-represented teachers on this list that I firmly believe that I would be voting yes for. If this board so chooses not to support me pulling one name, then so be it," Davison said, adding, he would not be "going into discussion on the reason and rationale" behind his request that Shaw's name be pulled.

“I think very clearly the matter of this individual you’re looking to pull out has been dealt with, from my opinion,” Lentini countered.

It was then put to a vote on whether to pull Shaw’s name out for an individual vote. It failed 5-1, with Davison in the minority.

The board then voted 5-0-1 in favor of electing the original slate of Career Tech staff. Davison voted "present" (the board’s version of abstaining).

“You guys forced my hand,” Davison said. “Not a good decision, I’m doing it.’

“So long as you do not violate personnel issues,” Lentini said.

“Oh no, I’m not violating by saying anything that I firmly believe in,” Davison responded. “You kind of forced my hand.”

“Personnel issues are not dealt with in a public setting,” Lentini explained. “Those are reserved for non-public. You voted 'present,' the floor is yours.”

“There are many educators on that list who are worthy of the position that they are holding,” Davison said. “They have high morals and values.

"I’ve had a real concern, even myself as an educator, that the position I was put in early by this board with the vote that I put out there (at the Jan. 31 hearing), it’s not the total vote that I probably would have gone. From the information I’m hearing now, my vote would have changed. I’ll leave it at that.”

According to the Conway police complaint, Shaw had been charged with holding an underage drinking party at his home. The alleged offense occurred Nov. 3 at Shaw’s home at 33 Southview Loop, off East Conway Road in Center Conway, at about 10:33 p.m.

The complaint, written by Conway Police Detective Dominic Torch, said Shaw had knowledge “that people under the age of 21 possessed or intended to consume alcoholic beverages” during a party that he organized at his residence, and, while he was present at the residence, at least five individuals unrelated to him were present and under the age of 21, while at least one individual under the age of 21 consumed or possessed alcohol.”

The school board, after meeting behind closed doors on Jan. 31, voted to suspend Shaw for more than three months without pay, effective immediately, until May 15.

Shaw also was placed on a three-year last-chance improvement plan with conditions to be established by the superintendent.

While Shaw has served his suspension, Stephen Arsenault, a retired high school teacher from Wolfeboro, stepped in as a long-term substitute in late February.

Arsenault, 72, taught machine tooling at Massachusetts and Nashua high schools prior to retiring.

With any long-term substitute, school officials make the hire on a temporary basis. It does not have to go before the school board for a vote.

“He loves the program and has even donated tools to the (Kennett machine tool) program,” said Virginia Schrader, MWV Career and Technical Center director.

“I’ve known this man for more decades than I care to admit,” said Lentini. “He is a phenomenally skilled machinist with a long history of working in school systems.”

Richard said Arsenault and the students “have received quite a bit of support from master craftsmen Rod Henry and George Abbott of the Career-Tech Advisory Board — those guys have really stepped up.”

Schrader said Henry has been in the school every day.

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