The sun sets over Washington Academy in East Machias, Maine, on Nov. 9, 2020. Credit: Bill Trotter / BDN

A teacher at Washington Academy has been placed on leave after posting comments critical of the school’s new racial sensitivity training program on social media.

The training was implemented this past fall after a noose allegedly was found in a Latina teacher’s classroom at the private East Machias school. 

Jonathan McBrine, who teaches in the career tech and history departments, has been placed on leave for comments he posted to Facebook about the training, Rich Olivares, assistant head of school at Washington Academy and its director of diversity, said Friday.

McBrine is a 1991 graduate of Washington Academy and the brother of the academy’s head of school, Judson McBrine, according to a report in the Quoddy Tides.

Olivares declined further comment about McBrine.

The teacher’s postings either were not accessible Friday or had been removed from Facebook, but screenshots of his comments had been posted on the public Washington County Holocaust Book Club Facebook page.

“I want to warn all my friends. If someone is making you do equity training, that’s the new code word used by Marxists brain washers,” McBrine wrote. “You will [hear] them promote doctrine like white privilege and whiteness, making you read articles shaming people for being white.”

He also posted memes mocking U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, including one in which she says to U.S.Rep Ilhan Omar “I love what you’ve done with the place” and Omar responds “Thanks I wanted it to feel more like home.” A subsequent photo shows a scene of an urban street that appears to have been heavily damaged by a bomb or a fire.

Olivares said that the school hired Boston-based education consulting firm Carney Sandoe & Associates to conduct an “equity audit” and to provide equity training to its staff after the noose allegedly was left in the classroom last year. He said that the training for Washington Academy staff is “ongoing.”

Information about the specific findings from the equity audit and the school’s investigation into the alleged noose incident was not available Friday. Olivares did not respond to a follow-up email following a brief conversation Friday afternoon, and Judson McBrine did not respond to a voicemail message left for him at the school.

Last August, a group of state legislators from Washington County asked the state Attorney General’s office to conduct an investigation into the noose incident.

Information about the status of that investigation was unavailable Friday. State Rep. Will Tuell, R-East Machias, said he did not know what the investigation had turned up or if it had been completed. State Sen. Marianne Moore, R-Calais, and the Attorney General’s office did not respond to messages.

Bill Trotter

Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....