Concord, NH, July 28, 2014 – Earlier today, Governor Maggie Hassan vetoed SB 391, which would have revitalized a legislative oversight committee for Sununu Youth Services Center (SYSC) and called for the appointment of a director of juvenile justice services at SYSC.
Through the Bill, the inactive Juvenile Justice Advisory Board would be revived, strengthened in composition, and would be given more of an oversight role over the center. SYSC management changed in 2012 and was placed under the State Director of Children, Youth & Families.
Employees testifying in support of this bill reported numerous concerns about the management of the institution, safety, financial irresponsibility, and employer retaliation. Most recently, on-campus arson and incidents involving youth to youth conflicts have also been reported.
In response to budget cuts, nine staff members at SYSC were reassigned in lieu of layoff (in most instances demoted) or laid off last week. Six of the nine affected workers were teachers. This action decimates the education department as a whole.
“We’ve talked with half of the affected employees so far,” said Sean Bolton, SEA/SEIU 1984 Grievance Representative. “Based on our initial analysis, SYSC management inappropriately applied the state’s personnel rules to every affected employee except for one part-time teacher.” SEA/SEIU 1984 will be investigating the matter and taking subsequent action to protect the workers in question.
“The situation at SYSC seems to go from bad to worse,” said Diana Lacey, President SEA/SEIU 1984. “There have been three rounds of significant lay-offs over the last five years; all following shifts in management, philosophy and employees speaking out about their concerns. SYSC seems to be a target for retaliation. This bill would have leveled the debate and created a balanced approach to management oversight.”
“It’s interesting that the Governor who is the ‘education governor’ and all about special education would support the gutting of the education program. I guess it’s fine for kids with special education needs who can afford it, but not necessary for these kids,” said Will Flowers sarcastically, one of the teachers who was not affected by the budget cuts.
The veto comes the same day Governor Hassan also vetoed another bill, HB 591, that would have improved management oversight statewide.