July 19, 2018
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School board member says he won’t resign despite recall vote

The York Weekly file photo | BDN
The York Weekly file photo | BDN
York School Committee member Dick Bachelder
By Deborah McDermott, The York Weekly

York School Committee member Dick Bachelder said he will not resign despite a successful recall petition against him, saying Thursday he has done nothing wrong. “I look forward to defending myself” between now and the date of the recall election, which was set for April 7.

In fact, he said he is taking out papers to run for his second three-year term on the committee during the regular election voting in May regardless of the outcome of the recall.

He spoke at a special selectmen’s meeting Thursday afternoon after Town Clerk Mary-Anne Szeniawski certified 971 registered voters signed a petition seeking an election to recall him from the committee. Under the town’s charter, selectmen are required to send a letter to Bachelder giving him five days to resign. He acknowledged receipt of the letter at the meeting.

At the same meeting, selectmen acknowledged the resignation of School Committee member Gary Phipps, who submitted his letter Wednesday. He has one year left in his term and will remain on the board until the May 19 election. That will leave three openings on the committee. Chairwoman Julie Eneman is up for re-election and has indicated she is running again.

The recall petition against Bachelder cites eight different violations of the School Committee Code of Ethics. It was mounted by the group Coaches and Kids Matter, following the termination last November of football and basketball coach Randy Small. Small was dismissed as basketball coach by interim Superintendent Mark McQuillan, after consultation with athletic director Andy Wood. The School Committee, including Bachelder, was not involved in the process. Only the superintendent, according to school policy, can make that decision.

All of the alleged violations against Bachelder appear to boil down to a comment he was overheard to have made years ago that Small shouldn’t coach two major sports. The group also alleges he made a call to a parent asking for some “dirt” on Small, but that charge has not been substantiated. Small’s attorney Wendy Moulton said of the violations at the time, “I don’t think we have a smoking gun here, but it’s part of a pattern.”

“I’ve done nothing wrong and I look forward to explaining that statement between now and the recall election,” Bachelder said before the selectmen’s meeting. “The recall is based on charges only. I have not violated the code of ethics. And I look forward to defending myself.”

He said he wants to run for another term because “we have important work ahead of us.” He mentioned there will be a new superintendent and teacher contracts are still being negotiated.

Phipps cited time commitments as the reason he is resigning. He said he intends to volunteer in the schools, which he said is more geared toward the kind of activities he’d like to contribute to.

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