Andrew Haas

Andrew Haas

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WESTMINSTER — And then there was one.

The committee tasked with finding a new principal to lead Bellows Falls Union High School has withdrawn an invitation to a former Littleton, N.H., school administrator to participate in a community “meet and greet” of principal finalists, slated to be held today.

The search committee met in special session Monday, according to Superintendent Andrew Haas, and decided to withdraw its invitation to Mark Fiorentino.

Haas said the invitation was rescinded based on “new information.”

As a result, only candidate Kelly O’Ryan will be participating in the community meeting, which starts at 5 p.m. at the high school.

Fiorentino is the former principal of Littleton, N.H., High School, who resigned that position in March after a school investigation. He had been on paid leave since November.

Haas said some committee members over the weekend had second thoughts about Fiorentino. The Reformer published an article on Saturday detailing Fiorentino’s troubles in Littleton, quoting an article in the Caledonian Record, which covers Littleton.

Haas, when questioned last week about Fiorentino’s background, said all he knew was what he had read “in the newspaper,” meaning the Caledonian Record. He said the search committee put Fiorentino’s name forward after the committee interviewed four candidates.

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Haas said the community “meet and greet” today will go forward with the remaining candidate, O’Ryan, who already works for the Windham Northeast Supervisory Union as its diversity and equity coordinator. She was hired in 2022, and works in the supervisory union’s main office with Haas.

“It strains credibility trying to understand how a candidate toting as much apparent baggage as Mark Fiorentino became a finalist for BFUHS principal, especially given the amount of baggage he appeared to be toting, beginning with the fact that he had been suspended from his job as Littleton, N.H. principal since roughly November,” said BFUHS Director David Clark of Westminster.

“While it might represent a massive failure of background checking, which I regard as extremely unlikely, ultimately it reeks of a back office maneuver to bolster the chances of the preferred in-house candidate Kelly O’Ryan, whom I make no judgment on because her candidacy, nor anyone else’s was ever broached to BFUHS board, prior to announcement of the two finalists, now down to one, last week,” he said.

Haas said the search committee, and eventually the full BFUHS board, can decide to go forward with O’Ryan or reopen the search. He said no decision will be made Wednesday, as the search committee needs to consider any feedback surveys filled out by members of the public at the meeting, according to the search process adopted earlier.

Members of the search committee couldn’t be reached on Tuesday, and Haas said that he by default acted as the chairman of the search committee. He said he did not vote on the issue of rescinding the invitation to Fiorentino.

BFUHS members on the committee include Molly Banik of Westminster, the BFUHS chair, and Priscilla Lambert of Rockingham, neither of whom could be reached.

Current BFUHS Principal John Broadley did not seek re-appointment to his current position after two years on the job, which sparked several community meetings where members of the public urged the BFUHS board to convince Broadley to stay. The board took no action.

Broadley is in line to be the new principal at Green Mountain Union High School in Chester.

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