Milford parent-teacher group scraps plan to recall school committee members

Posted Feb. 14, 2013, at 12:12 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 15, 2013, at 10:49 a.m.

MILFORD, Maine — A group of parents and teachers dissatisfied with the way their local school department is being run has dropped its effort to recall two members of the school committee, Milford’s town manager confirmed Thursday.

A representative of the group of about 20 concerned residents informed Town Manager Dawn Adams this week that members met earlier this week and have decided not to pursue the recall of school committee Chairman Gary Drinkwater and member Michael Bond, Adams said.

Their deadline for submitting the signatures of at least 260 voters, or 20 percent of the total who voted in the last gubernatorial election, was Thursday.

“Although the citizens were able to gather the necessary amount of signatures, they are concerned about the success of a special election in March,” resident Amanda Day wrote Tuesday in an email to Adams on the group’s behalf.

“The concerned citizens do not wish to overburden the clerks at the town office and spend money which the town clearly does not have,” Day wrote.

“The citizens also recognize the general election for at least one of the school board seats [held by Drinkwater] will be held in June. With that being said, the citizens who met [Monday] night decided not to proceed with the recall petitions issued on January 14, 2013,” Day said.

The recall effort was launched on Jan. 11, the day after Drinkwater, Bond and Superintendent Nancy Weed walked out of a regularly scheduled committee meeting after a member made a disparaging remark about the superintendent.

Adams said at that time that seven residents — Day, Faye Brown, Joseph Brown, Gregory Hobson, Tracy LeClair, Karen Martin and Heidi Milton — had signed and submitted an affidavit seeking the recall referendum.

Most of the signers are parents of Milford students. Additionally, Faye Brown is a grade two teacher, Hobson is a former school committee member and LeClair is married to current committee member Christopher LeClair.

On Thursday, Drinkwater noted that the recall attempt launched last month was the second by essentially the same group of residents in his three-year school committee term.

“So obviously they would like me to go away,” Drinkwater said. “I would have to believe that had they really had [the signatures], they would have turned them in.”

Drinkwater said he intends to complete his term, which expires at the end of June, but he declined to say if he plans to seek reelection.

Bond was not available for comment on Thursday.

Although Drinkwater said last month that he planned to suspend public comment and have a sheriff’s deputy on hand during school committee meetings because of what he termed disorderly conduct at the Jan. 10 meeting, no deputy was on hand when the group met Wednesday night.

“I wanted to see how it went and there was a deputy in town and I had his number,” Drinkwater said Thursday.

As it turned out, he said, neither measure was necessary.

“Last night’s meeting was exceptional — the way all meetings should be. There was good discussion and people stayed on point. We discussed issues, not personal insults,” he said.

Among the topics discussed were school security, updating the school department’s policy on bullying, the upcoming budget development process and the likely impacts of decreasing state funding and reaching out to Veazie and Glenburn to see if they are interested in forming an AOS, or alternative organizational structure.

Drinkwater said the committee — and people in the audience — also discussed the effort to develop a five-year strategic plan with consultant Mary Jane McCalmon of the Maine Cohort for Customized Learning, a statewide coalition committed to supporting performance-based education in Maine school systems.

 

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