Rockland area school hearing to resume in three weeks

Posted Jan. 23, 2014, at 11:17 p.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — After four hours questioning one witness, the Regional School Unit 13 board agreed it would not be able to complete Thursday night the hearing to determine whether business manager Scott Vaitones should be fired.

The board then voted to resume the hearings on Feb. 12 and 13, at which time a vote is expected.

The single witness on Thursday night was auditor Ron Smith. Both the school district’s attorney Campbell Badger and Vaitones’ attorney Bryan Dench questioned the auditor in extensive detail about findings he made of the district’s financial records.

Smith said a communication problem developed when he tried to meet with Vaitones in October to discuss issues such as improper posting of expenses. Smith said that Vaitones stated he believed the auditor was there to “hang him” and told the auditor to leave his office.

The next witness on the list is Superintendent Lew Collins who placed Vaitones on paid leave on Nov. 14 and has recommended that the business manager be fired for not being able to perform the job. Vaitones has said that the action was in retaliation for him pointing out to the board that the superintendent had filled special education positions that were not budgeted.

Vaitones is then expected to testify on his behalf.

Board Chairwoman Esther “Tess” Kilgour criticized Vaitones’ attorney for not attending Wednesday night’s hearing, saying that his absence resulted in the board losing an evening of productivity. Kilgour also said earlier Thursday that the reasons given by Vaitones and his supporters on the previous evening — the unavailability of his attorney and because he was only given written charges that night — were not the real reasons for Vaitones’ effort to delay Wednesday’s start of the hearings. The board chairwoman said, however, she was barred by state confidentiality laws from stating what the real reasons were.

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