Reeling after a nepotism probe and its superintendent’s resignation, the School Administrative District 6 board, under an interim superintendent, is trying to regain its balance as it faces a key budget meeting next week, looming graduation exercises and the search for a new district leader.
“The SAD 6 district school board mission is to govern in order to make the district a state model in terms of excellence in academic performance, fiscal performance and community relations through a system of continuous improvement,” Rebecca Bowley of Hollis, the board chairwoman, wrote in a statement for the American Journal. “We will pursue a new superintendent with the same goals in mind.”
The board has appointed Michael Roy as the district’s interim superintendent. Roy was assistant superintendent under Superintendent Frank Sherburne.
Sherburne, with the nepotism issue steaming and some parents clamoring for his ouster, resigned late Monday night at the school board meeting. Last week, the board had found that the district’s nepotism policy had been violated, but did not discipline Sherburne, whose son, lacking proper state certification, had worked as an educational technician at Buxton Center Elementary School. Zachariah Sherburne, 23, worked as an educational technician there from Feb. 8-March 11
The nepotism policy prohibits family members of the school board and superintendent from working for the distric,t but exceptions could be approved by the board.
“The district’s nepotism policy was violated when the superintendent failed to bring that candidacy for employment to the full board for approval after the interview process was completed,” the board said in a statement released last week.
The SAD 6 district includes Buxton, Frye Island, Hollis, Limington and Standish.
Accepting Frank Sherburne’s resignation after a lengthy executive session, the school board Monday sweetened his departure with a $40,000 severance package. This school year, Sherburne earned $122,000 on his contract, which ran through June 30, 2019.
The board announced Sherburne’s resignation at 11:20 p.m. Monday in a meeting packed with parents, school staff and media. Sherburne did not return a cell phone request for comment from the American Journal Tuesday.
“We believe that it is in the best interest of our district, its employees, its students, and the community at large to finally resolve this matter as soon as possible,” Bowley read in a public statement Monday. “The severance agreement we have negotiated with the superintendent will avoid a protracted legal battle with the associated legal costs and divisiveness and will bring closure to this matter and allow the board to turn its attention on to important issues facing our district.”
After the meeting, new interim superintendent Roy told reporters, “I look forward to moving this district forward.” He did not respond to an email request for additional comment.
A district meeting and vote on the $48.1 million SAD 6 budget, which the school board approved last week, is set for 7 p.m. Thursday, May 26, at Bonny Eagle Middle School. The validation referendum for the budget is scheduled for Tuesday, June 14.
The Bonny Eagle High School graduation will be held at 6 p.m. Friday, June 3, at Cross Insurance Arena in Portland.
To land a new superintendent, Bowley said, the board “will look at internal candidates, local and nationally to select finalists and pursue the best person to continue pursuit of our goals.”
Two Bonny Eagle High School students, who attended Monday’s meeting, backed Sherburne.
“While it is sad to see former Superintendent Frank Sherburne leave the district, we need to put our differences aside as a community and place our full faith and confidence in the interim superintendent, Michael Roy,” Trevor Hustus of Hollis, a junior, said Tuesday.
Hustus, secretary of the Bonny Eagle Student Council, said Sherburne was instrumental in graduation rate increases, a decrease in dropouts and a program ensuring students had enough food. Hustus said one of Sherburne’s big goals was to make sure “no student misses a meal.”
Nathan Carlow of Buxton, student representative to the school board, said Sherburne is passionate and understanding.
“I’m supporting the superintendent because he’s definitly a dedicated superintendent,” Carlow, a sophomore, said.
Following Sherburne’s resignation, Hustus said the mood Tuesday at Bonny Eagle High School was sad.
In school board meetings, the public was not alloted time to comment on any personnel issue. The board was targeted with criticism and some parents held up protest signs during meetings.
“A big problem is that the public has been shut out,” Victoria Hugo-Vidal of Buxton said Monday while the board met behind closed doors.
When the school board was present in its public meeting room Monday, Hugo-Vidal held up a sign that read “Fire Frank.”
The SAD 6 controversy generated chatter in the communities for weeks. A grandmother of a SAD 6 student, Joann Groder of Buxton, said this week that the public should have been allowed to speak.
“These people are supposed to be teaching your children and tell them right from wrong,” said Groder, director of a Buxton food pantry.
According to a court document, Zachariah Sherburne, who was arrested by Oxford County Sheriff’s Office on March 15 on a warrant, was charged with a sex crime involving a 16-year-old girl, who is a student in SAD 55. Zachariah Sherburne was an educational technician in that district at Sacopee Valley High School from November 2015 to Feb. 12, according to the SAD 55 superintendent. Zachariah Sherburne also did not have required teaching certification from the state, officials said.
Newly appointed interim SAD 6 Superintendent Michael Roy sits Monday in the superintendent’s seat beside Rebecca Bowley of Hollis, chairwoman of the school board. Behind them are Jacob Stoddard, vice chairman, left and Lester R.L. Harmon, a school board member. Roy was appointed to the job after the school board announced Frank Sherburne’s resignation in a controversy involving nepotism.
Bonny Eagle High School students Nathan Carlow of Buxton, student representative to the SAD 6 school board, left, and Trevor Hustus of Hollis, Student Council secretary, backed Frank Sherburne amid a public outcry for Sherburne’s ouster as superintendent.
Victoria Hugo-Vidal of Buxton holds a sign Monday as the SAD 6 board prevented the public to speak about a nepotism issue in which the district hired the son of Superintendent Frank Sherburne as an educational technician.