Hodgdon school board tables appointment of administrative intern candidate

3 years ago

HODGDON, Maine — The Hodgdon school board tabled the approval of a candidate for Hodgdon Middle/High School administrative intern, after a large number of residents turned out for the meeting to protest the appointment. 

Several residents of the more than 100 people who gathered gave public comments to the board, raising questions about changing the title of the position from when it was first advertised and why certain applicants were not considered. The candidate’s name was not disclosed during the school board meeting.

“My understanding is that the ad was for a building administrator, but I see that it’s listed here [on the agenda]  as something a little different,” said Tracy Rockwell, a former school board member. “So my question would be, was there no one who applied who fit the qualifications needed, and if there was and the change was still made, was it re-advertised?” 

Crystal Folsom, a former employee of MSAD 70, also spoke in opposition, saying that current staff at the school district were more deserving of the position.

“You’re going to lose good teachers and administrators because you’re not choosing to let them step forward to take that next step that they’re ready to take,” she said. “They care about these kids, they love these kids. And it’s important to let them grow as educators. They’re here, they want to be here. But if you don’t give them the chance, how will we ever know?”

Folsom, along with other members of the public who spoke during the meeting, voiced support for Tina Burrill, a teacher for MSAD 70, as someone who was more qualified for the position. 

“I can’t speak enough about her. She had both my children, and they will tell you she was a humanitarian and an excellent teacher, but she was also a friend to them,” Folsom said. “It breaks my heart that we’re not allowing her to be that next person, and take that next step in her life because everyone deserves that shot.” Her comments were followed by applause from the crowd.

Following the public comments, the school board unanimously voted to table the approval of the candidate at a time to be determined later. 

Clarissa Porter, a member of the school board who had opposed approving the candidate, expressed gratitude at the large turnout of people to pressure the board into tabling the action item. 

“The only reason this was stopped was because everyone showed up,” she said afterward. “It really does make a difference.”

Prior to the protests of the administrative intern candidate, the school administration had already found itself in hot water with parents and residents, after an investigation found that the school was forming Individual Education Plans for special needs students without proper consultation of parents, sometimes to the detriment of the students. The school said it was reworking the IEPs and parents could have their students do make-up work to compensate for any missed learning opportunities.