SAD 6 board member quits over superintendent search


BUXTON — A School Administrative District 6 board member has resigned, saying the district “is deceiving the public” about the hiring of a new superintendent.

“While I have for the most part been satisfied with my time as a school director, I feel the situation has become untenable,” Phil Pomerleau of Standish said in his Feb. 27 letter to Lester Harmon, chairman of the School Board.

“My main reason for resigning is due to the fact that (former Superintendent Frank) Sherburne veterans continue to deceive the public and new School Board members, because we all know that the train left the station in November for the new superintendent search,” Pomerleau wrote.

He suggests that the board had intended to hire Paul Penna, who has been serving as interim superintendent,  from the very beginning and never planned on conducting a real search.

Pomerleau, who was elected to the School Board last June for a three-year term and is a former longtime Standish town councilor, said he submitted his letter of resignation Monday.

Harmon, in an email to the American Journal, noted that Pomerleau has “multiple grandchildren in the district (and) he has an understanding and a passion for our work,” but he indicated that differences between how a Town Council and School Board operate led to Pomerleau’s dissatisfaction.

Last spring, SAD 6, which is made up of Buxton, Frye Island, Hollis, Limington and Standish, faced a nepotism problem that resulted in Sherburne’s resignation. Since then, the board has had two interim superintendents, launched an internal-only search to fill the position that resulted in a single application, and hired a consultant, whose duties included overseeing a survey of the community, at a rate of $150 an hour.

In his letter, Pomerleau presumes Penna will be named to the post. “I wish the best to Superintendent Paul Penna,” Pomerleau wrote.

Pomerleau, who said he hasn’t attended a School Board meeting for three months, declined to comment further this week.

Harmon, of Hollis, in his lengthy emailed response to questions about Pomerleau’s resignation, said, “I believe Mr. Pomerleau brought a different perspective and ideas about how the school board functions.  Although I respect his contributions, there are differences in how the board of directors function as compared with a municipal council.”

He continued, “Mr. Pomerleau also expressed his frustration with the interim superintendent search, but in reality he joined the board after decisions were made about the search process.”
Harmon said the board decided to limit the search for a superintendent to an internal one because it “felt that we have several very good administrators who hold a superintendent’s certificate. It was important to the board to keep constancy and continuity within the district.”

Harmon said in a SAD 6 workshop meeting Tuesday that the district’s Search Committee has a candidate to bring to the full School Board at its meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday, March 6, in the district’s central office in Buxton. The district received one application as of the application deadline Feb. 8.

The School Board has an advisory Search Committee with 16 members including six current School Board members, according to a list Harmon provided Feb. 8.

The School Board hired the Maine School Management Association to guide it through the search process, and it also conducted a community survey seeking public input about qualities desired in a new superintendent.

The MSMA advised the School Board about maintaining confidentiality of candidate information acquired. The name of the lone applicant hasn’t been released.

Sherburne resigned as superintendent last May, resolving allegations that the school district’s nepotism policy had been violated when the district hired his son, Zachariah Sherburne, as an educational technician at Buxton Center Elementary School. The Maine Department of Education later said it had no teaching credentials on file for Zachariah Sherburne.

After his employment ended at SAD 6, Zachariah Sherburne was arrested on sex charges involving a 16-year-old girl in another school district where he previously worked. All charges against him were later dropped.

After Frank Sherburne resigned, Assistant Superintendent Michael Roy was appointed interim superintendent. He was succeeded in that role in August by Penna, who was principal of Bonny Eagle High School.

Pomerleau served 15 years on the Standish Town Council, five years on the Planning Board, and 13 years on the town’s Appointments Committee.

“For me, it is time to move on and serve the citizens of Standish in a more positive way,” he wrote.

Harmon said the board thanks Pomerleau “for his help in moving the district forward,” and wish him “the best of luck with his future endeavors.”

Robert Lowell can be reached at 854-2577 or