Rockland school board rejects request to delay business manager’s disciplinary hearing

Posted Jan. 22, 2014, at 9:43 p.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — With two attorneys and an auditor on the clock, the Regional School Unit 13 board met behind closed doors for nearly three hours Wednesday night before voting to reject a request by its suspended business manager to delay the start of the hearing to determine whether he will be fired for incompetence.

Scott Vaitones sought a delay because his attorney was not present and because the written accusations had only been presented to him at that meeting Wednesday night.

The board verbally wrangled in its brief open session on whether to delay the meeting and whether Superintendent Lew Collins had violated Vaitones’ due process rights by not evaluating him before moving to fire him.

The motion to hold off the hearing was rejected 7-5 as was the motion to find that the business manager’s rights were violated. Opposing the delay were Board Chairwoman Esther “Tess” Kilgour, and board members Nancy Jeffers, Steven Roberts and Donald Robishaw Jr., all of Rockland; Christine Curtis of South Thomaston; Sherman Hoyt of St. George; and Darryl Sanborn of Thomaston.

The board then went into the closed-door hearing. Vaitones said he would ask that Thursday evening’s session be open to the public when his attorney will be available.

The district was paying for its own attorney, Campbell Badger, to be in attendance to serve as prosecutor for the hearing; it also hired attorney Lee Bragg to represent the board. The district’s auditor Ron Smith was also in attendance.

The superintendent and auditor claim Vaitones made numerous errors in his job while Vaitones has claimed that the superintendent was retaliating against him for informing the school board of concerns about unbudgeted hirings in the special education department. The business manager has cited an email sent by former board member Brian Messing to Collins two weeks ago in which he stated “I need to know where in the spec ed lines the overages are that you mentioned so I can take them out.”

Collins said he plans to contract with Messing for $100 per hour to help develop the 2014-2015 budget. Collins is scheduled to leave on Feb. 15.

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