SAD 6 panel probes nepotism

A three-member panel that includes a lawyer could soon deliver to the School Administrative District 6 board of directors its findings about whether the district’s nepotism policy has been violated.

The issue involves sex charges against a former school district employee, Zachariah Sherburne, 23, who is the son of SAD 6 Superintendent Frank Sherburne. Zachariah Sherburne worked as an educational technician for SAD 6 at Buxton Center Elementary School from Feb. 8 to March 11, according to Rebecca Bowley of Hollis, chairwoman of the SAD 6 board of directors.

SAD 6 has a nepotism policy that prohibits relatives of school board members and the superintendent from working for the school district, but the policy also allows the school board to make exceptions.

“The panel we created is conducting interviews,” Jacob Stoddard of Buxton, vice chairman of the SAD 6 board of directors, said Tuesday.

Zachariah Sherburne was arrested on a warrant by Oxford County Sheriff’s Office on March 15, four days after his employment ended at SAD 6. He faces charges of gross sexual assault and sexual abuse of a minor. The 16-year old girl is a student at Sacopee Valley High School, where Zachariah Sherburne had previously worked.

According to a court document, a sheriff’s detective charged that Zachariah Sherburne committed gross sexual assault on Feb. 12 at the Kezar Falls Fire Department. The girl claimed in a court document that she’s pregnant.

Upset parents have petitioned the SAD 6 school board. Under the Freedom of Access Act, the American Journal requested a copy of the petition in an email Tuesday to Hedy Smith, SAD 6 executive secretary, but it was not received by the American Journal deadline Wednesday. Stoddard said the petition has about 100 names.

Stoddard said the panel is investigating the matter. Stoddard named members of the panel as SAD 6 directors Paul Mosley of Standish and Cynthia Meserve of Buxton, along with a lawyer, Elek Miller, of the Portland law firm Drummond  Woodsum. The panel will report its findings to the full school board “sooner than later,” Stoddard said.

SAD 55 Superintendent Carl Landry previously said that Zachariah Sherburne worked for SAD 55, primarily at Sacopee Valley High School, from November 2015 to Feb. 11, and his employment officially ended on Feb. 12.

Sherburne resigned as an educational technician from SAD 55 in a letter to Landry
in February, but the letter is minus a specific date.

“I appreciate the opportunity to work with the district and give back to the community that has given me so much,” Zachariah Sherburne’s resignation letter said. “There are several elements that have led to my decision to relinguish my position including the impression upon being hired that this would be a full time job eventually and I can not afford to have only part-time employment.”

Zachariah Sherburne’s letter also said, “I have secured full-time employment and am taking the new opportunity and journey.”

The SAD 6 board of directors recently issued a statement read by Buxton board member Ansel Stevens Jr. in  public following a closed-door meeting.

“The board is aware of the community’s concern regarding the district’s nepotism policy and recent allegations concerning a former employee of our school system. We will be working with our legal counsel to gather relevant information to ensure that we have all of the facts. The board is committed to bringing this matter to a prompt resolution for the good of our school system,” Stevens said.