August 17, 2018
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School board votes to put staffer on bus after Lubec incident

By Tim Cox, BDN Staff
Updated:

LUBEC, Maine — After an incident involving a school bus on Wednesday, the local school board voted unanimously that night to put a staffer on board to monitor students.

James Underwood, superintendent of the Lubec Consolidated School, assumed the duties Thursday on the bus, which was involved in an incident that drew numerous law enforcement officers and resulted in the arrest of a Trescott woman.

The board voted 4-0 during its regular meeting Wednesday night to put a school staffer on the bus for the immediate future to help monitor and rein in unruly students.

When one board member suggested that perhaps parent volunteers could ride on the bus to help monitor students, Underwood balked.

“I don’t think that would be a good idea right now,” he said. “It should be a management issue right now.”

Washington County deputies were summoned Wednesday morning by the bus driver to Lubec after he pulled over to the side of the road because of unruly students.

A parent who went to the scene was charged with assault after striking Sheriff Donnie Smith in the head, according to the sheriff. The bus, which was taking Lubec students to Machias Memorial High School and Washington Academy in Machias, did not resume its route, and the students had to be retrieved by parents.

Underwood said he was still investigating Wednesday’s incident, but he noted that discipline issues on the bus have been a problem this school year.

“We’ve been dealing with this” for weeks, he said. The board has discussed the issue at several meetings, and Underwood said there have been meetings of Lubec and Machias school officials about the unruly students, but the misbehavior has continued.

When the board briefly discussed the added cost of having a staff person on the bus, chairman Melissa Farren noted it could potentially cost the school system much more if it is involved in a legal dispute arising from a school bus incident.

“Someone needs to be on that bus,” said board member Danielle Carricofe.

“That would be a board decision,” responded Underwood, who earlier said of the incident that “due process is really important.”

Daniel Wagner, a member of the Board of Selectmen who attended Wednesday night’s school board meeting, referred to a request by the selectmen to meet with the school directors at the selectmen’s regular meeting on Oct. 9. Wagner mentioned recent vandalism of the school playground, drug abuse in the community and the school bus incident and said, “We’ve had enough of all this.”

Several directors indicated they would be reluctant to attend a joint meeting with the Board of Selectmen.

“I think we need to respect our roles and responsibilities,” said Carricofe. She was not interested in engaging in a “free for all” session with the selectmen, she added.

“It’s just a conversation,” said Wagner.

Carol Dennison, chair of the Board of Selectmen, said later that plans for a joint closed meeting were called off.

The selectmen sought the meeting to discuss the vandalism of the playground, she said.

“We were going to come up with a plan for how to address that,” Dennison said Thursday when reached by phone.

The selectmen wanted to hold the joint meeting in an executive — closed — session, according to Dennison, because it involves security and a person she indicated may have been involved in the vandalism, which extended off school grounds elsewhere.

“We’re trying to work together because it’s a community issue,” said Dennison, who said the officials with both boards were trying to make arrangements for a joint workshop meeting that would be open to the public.


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