CONCORD, NH — A long-time Concord Board of Education member and its current president will be resigning the position at the end of the month.
Jennifer Patterson, a health policy legal attorney for the state’s Insurance Department and a board member for the SAU 8 school district for more than 12 years, made the announcement Thursday in a letter to parents, students, and staffers. Patterson said she is in the process of moving out of state. Her resignation will allow candidates to run in November to fill out her term.
“It has been my privilege to serve on the board for the past twelve and a half years,” she said. “I’ve had the opportunity to serve alongside over 30 different Board members, all of whom added their own voices and perspectives to the work of the district. Every robust policy discussion, every difficult decision worked out through creativity and compromise, has added to the strength and resilience of the board and the district. In this era of rancor and partisanship, through many wrenching challenges, the board has maintained its commitment to civility, hard work, and public education.”
Patterson saluted all the members of the school community, including educators, administrators, and others, who devoted their lives to serving students — “no matter what their situation or circumstances.” She learned “so much” from them as they “walk the walk of supporting our kids, through inclusion, differentiated education, technology integration, and social-emotional supports.”
Patterson admitted the past 18 months have been difficult for the board — dealing, first, with the Primo “Howie” Leung teacher-rape accusation and investigations, terminating School Superintendent Terri Forsten and long-time district school principal Tom Sica, and dealing with the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. But she was “particularly heartened” to see students and recent graduates take leading roles in “demanding action and justice — not only on student safety but also on ending racial discrimination and systemic inequality.” The board, she said, was better for having listened to student voices even when they head difficult things to say.
Patterson was first elected to the board in 2007 as an at-large candidate, topping the ticket against eight others. She successfully ran for re-election again in 2010. After the school district went through a charter commission process in 2010 and 2011, it changed the way board members were elected — with three members elected at-large and six members elected by three or four ward districts. In 2013 and 2016, she ran unopposed for the District B seat, representing Wards 5, 6, and 7. In 2018, after moving out of Ward 5 to East Concord, Patterson ran for one of three at-large seats, topping the ticket again.
Three of the six district seats are up for re-election in November. Potential candidates can sign up for those seats or to fill out Patterson’s term beginning at 8 a.m. Sept. 2 at the office of Roger Phillips, the district’s clerk, 104 Pleasant St. The filing fee is $5. The signup period runs through 5 p.m. Sept. 11. An information session will be held at the Concord High School auditorium at 6 p.m. Sept. 2.
At post time, none of the current school board members serving in those district seats, Tom Croteau, Liza Poinier, and Chuck Crush, had returned emails from three weeks ago or Thursday about their re-election plans.
Patterson said she hoped members of the community recently involved in school board discussions would run for office.
“Whether your passion is for student safety, academic excellence, social-emotional supports, fiscal prudence, inclusionary learning, or speaking truth to power and demanding systemic change, the board and the community need your passion for justice, equity, and civic engagement,” she said. “I hope that you will find service on the board as rewarding as I have, and I would be glad to talk with you if you are considering running.”
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This article originally appeared on the Concord Patch