LUBEC, Maine — Deborah Bousquet, a local elementary teacher who was suspended from her job after criminal charges were filed against her last October, is appealing the decision, according to her attorney.
The appeal is scheduled to be heard beginning at 5 p.m. Thursday at Lubec Consolidated School.
Bousquet was charged with disorderly conduct and obstruction of government administration following an Oct. 8 incident in which then-Sheriff Donnie Smith accused her of hitting him in the head. Bousquet and Smith each responded to an incident in Lubec, in which a school bus driver pulled over to the side of the road and then called police to report a fight had broken out on the bus.
After Bousquet — who had a daughter on the bus — and Smith each had arrived, they got into an altercation and accused each other of exacerbating the situation. Smith placed Bousquet under arrest and took her to jail in Machias.
Last month, the district attorney’s office dropped the charges against Bousquet after determining there was not enough evidence to prosecute the case.
Bousquet’s attorney, Jeffrey Davidson, has indicated he and she plan to demand her appeal be held in public session, instead of in executive session. Hearings held by public bodies, such as town councils or school boards, about personnel matters usually are considered confidential, but state law mandates the session be held in public if the employee who is the subject of the hearing decides not to have it remain private and informs the board of his or her decision in writing.
Multiple attempts this week to contact James Underwood, superintendent of Alternative Organizational Structure 77, the school district that includes Lubec, have not been successful. Staff at his office indicated early Thursday afternoon the board plans to hold the hearing in executive session.
Bousquet’s suspension is not the first employment-related dispute she has had with Underwood. Last June, the superintendent decided not to renew Bousquet’s appointment as the school’s athletic director, a position she held for two years.
About three dozen parents plus children held an impromptu meeting with Underwood on June 24 to protest the decision. According to Bousquet, the superintendent later changed his mind after no other teachers would accept the position.
Since the bus incident last October, Bousquet has notified Smith of her intent to file a civil lawsuit against him, alleging that with her arrest he falsely imprisoned her, assaulted her and used excessive force. Bousquet has yet to follow through and file a civil complaint against Smith at the court clerk’s office in Machias, according to Davidson.
In November, Smith was defeated in his re-election bid as sheriff, losing to Barry Curtis of Cherryfield by more than 2,000 votes out of about 13,600 cast.
Last month, Smith and Bousquet were involved in another confrontation — one that has resulted in Smith facing criminal charges, according to court documents.
On Jan. 6, Smith and Bousquet were involved in a driving incident, in which Smith “did recklessly create a substantial risk of serious bodily injury” to Bousquet and that he “did, with criminal negligence, drive a vehicle … in a manner that endangered the property of another or a person, including the operator or passenger in the motor vehicle being driven,” according to charging documents filed in the court clerk’s office in Machias.
Matthew Foster, district attorney for Washington County, has said Smith was driving on Route 189 on Jan. 6 when he realized Bousquet was in a vehicle behind him and twice slammed on his brakes, nearly causing an accident each time.
Smith has pleaded innocent to the charges, court documents indicate. Recent attempts to contact Smith and his attorney, Don Brown of Brewer, have been unsuccessful.