Rockland school district claims St. George panel is illegal

Posted July 20, 2012, at 1:31 p.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — A committee created by St. George to study its educational options has been informed that it will no longer be provided public documents because they are not a legal committee.

Interim Regional School Unit 13 Superintendent Neal Guyer informed the St. George Education Committee in a letter dated June 26 that he would comply with its current request for information on middle school athletics but would not in the future.

“It is my belief that the Town of St. George Education Committee is an illegal committee as defined by RSU law,” stated Guyer’s letter to Jennifer Garrett of the St.George committee.

“There are very specific requirements under the RSU statutes that define how a local education committee can be formed and what powers it has. In the future, I will only respond to local educational entities I believe to be formed under the RSU regulations,” Guyer concluded.

The St. George Selectmen responded this week in a letter back to Guyer disputing his assertions. The selectmen met Monday and agreed unanimously to send a letter to the interim superintendent.

Guyer’s term as interim superintendent ends Friday, July 20. Lewis Collins will begin work Monday as superintendent after being hired this week.

The St. George Education Committee was formed by town residents during the March 2011 annual town meeting. Selectmen noted that its job is to review the work of RSU 13 and report back to the board and the community.

“That charge requires the committee to seek documents and information that are legitimate public records,” selectmen noted in its letter to Guyer.

“A request under the Maine Freedom of Access Laws would be a last resort, but one that we certainly have a right to file and that you have an obligation to honor,” the selectmen concluded in the letter.

On Friday, Guyer said the point of his letter was concerning the legality of the committee. He said he agreed that individuals can make requests for information and if the information is public will be provided to them.

Garrett had sought information from the district on how decisions were made in regard to athletic programs at the middle school level.

The town and the school district have been at odds for the past few years on middle school education. The school board has voted to send eighth graders from the St. George School to Oceanside High School West starting in September, a move that has been strongly opposed by the town which said it wants to preserve the kindergarten through eighth-grade school it has in town.

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