The group Coaches and Kids Matter are seeking the removal of Dick Bachelder from the School Committee, alleging he violated the committee’s Code of Ethics for what the group says is his part in the termination of former basketball and football coach Randy Small.
Bachelder said Tuesday he is unable to comment at this time, but intends to sit down with The York Weekly in the days to come to address the allegations.
Kent Kilgore, a member of the group, has formally sought recall petitions from the town clerk’s office. The petition states Bachelder engaged in activities such as acting outside of the meeting of the School Committee, criticizing one or more school employees publicly, discussing confidential business of the School Committee in public places and using his position to benefit others apart from the total interests of the school.
The group has until Feb. 9 to gather 697 signatures of registered voters — or 10 percent of those who voted in the last gubernatorial election, said Town Clerk Mary-Anne Szeniawski. Under the home rule charter, if the group is successful, she sends the petitions to the Board of Selectmen after her office has certified the signatures. The board would send written notice giving Bachelder five days to resign; if he doesn’t, a recall election would be required.
Bachelder’s term of office is up in May; it is conceivable, said Szeniawski, that if the group’s effort got as far as a recall election, it could be held some time in April.
Kilgore called Bachelder “the catalyst” that resulted in Small’s removal. In early November, several days after a football game in Fryeburg, interim Superintendent Mark McQuillan terminated Small’s contract for the upcoming basketball season. Small has since maintained that a handful of parents were seeking his ouster and used a huddle in that game where profanity was used as an excuse.
“Bachelder was the guy that some of these complaining parents knew and he was interested in taking care of their concerns,” Kilgore said.
Kilgore and Small’s attorney Wendy Moulton were both asked to detail actions Bachelder is alleged to have taken that caused the specific Code of Ethics violations. Both of them referenced a comment Bachelder made during a social gathering several years ago, that was overheard by former assistant basketball coach Kevin Talty.
“I heard him say that Randy shouldn’t coach two major sports and he was going to do something about it. Randy had too much control. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. He said it in public with no regard for any privacy issues,” Talty said in a subsequent interview with the Weekly.
Moulton also referenced the emails sent by parents to McQuillan in the days following the Fryeburg football game outlining their concerns. However, Bachelder’s name was not mentioned in those emails. Moulton also said the Coaches Matter group learned of a call that Bachelder allegedly made to a parent asking for some “dirt” on Small.
“I don’t think I have a smoking gun here, but it’s part of a pattern,” Moulton said. “We know he’s part of the group of parents that wanted to get rid of Randy, and that he told people that he had a better coach to put forward.”
Moulton called the petition a “neutral document.” She said she has told people who are uncertain whether or not to sign it that their signature does not mean they believe Bachelder is guilty of these violations. Rather, she said, the petition sets in motion a recall election where the entire community can vote.
Petitions are scattered at various locations around town. Kilgore will be at the Fishermen’s Dock restaurant from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Jan. 20 to answer questions.
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