Confidentiality concerns raised by school board member

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On Nov. 7 Scott Gray of Chesterville requested copies of emails Regional School Unit 9 Board Chairman Cherieann Harrision sent to Director Craig Stickney. Gray requested emails sent between Oct. 1 and Nov. 4. The request was filled on Nov. 26 and included this email, which informs Stickney he is the subject of an Executive Session. Copies of this email were provided by Stickney and Gray. 

FARMINGTON – Regional School Unit 9 Director Craig Stickney of Chesterville has raised concerns that his confidentiality has been breached in a Freedom of Access Act request made by a citizen.

On Nov. 7, Scott Gray of Chesterville requested copies of emails RSU 9 Chairman Cherieann Harrison sent to Stickney between Oct. 1 and Nov. 4. According to information provided by Gray, the request was filled on Nov. 26.

Included in the request was an email dated Tuesday, Oct. 23. The email informed Stickney he was the subject of an executive session that had been added to the agenda for that evening’s meeting.

“I wanted to make you aware, in advance of tonight’s meeting, that we are having the second executive session to go over some recent incidents that you have been involved in,” Harrison said in the email.

The original agenda was released on Friday, Oct. 19. An amended agenda was released on Oct. 23 at 11:40 a.m. The email informing Stickney the executive session was in regard to him was sent at 3:49 p.m.

With just over 3 hours to prepare, Stickney said, “I was not properly notified or given enough time to respond. I did not have enough time to have my attorney present, if needed.”

Stickney left the Oct. 23 school board meeting following regular business. The board went into executive session. No action was taken following the session.

The school board policy states: The superintendent, in cooperation with the chair, shall prepare an agenda for each meeting and have it delivered with supporting information to each board member so that he/she will typically have this material at least 48 hours prior to each regular meeting or work session meeting or 24 hours prior to each special meeting except an emergency special meeting.

The amendment to the agenda did not indicate the executive session was an emergency.

In a phone call on Dec. 10, RSU 9 Superintendent Tina Meserve said, ““It is unfortunate that information which  potentially should not have been made available to the public was not redacted.”

After conferring with RSU 9 legal counsel about Stickney’s concerns, Meserve said “I have been told there was no violation of confidentiality. That email would have had to have been turned over. Confidentiality has to do with students and employees, not board members.”

Meserve said the district is careful to not release confidential information in FOAA requests.

“It is never our intent to include confidential information in FOAA requests,” she said. “We will continue to work to ensure confidential information is redacted so personal information is not made available to the public.”

 dmenear@thefranklinjournal.com

1 COMMENT

  1. Mr Stickney is one of the rare people that will look into anything asked of him by a community member for which he was elected to do so when it came to school issues in this district. Sadly, this goes back to when parents and students found he was willing to look into bullying issues happening in our district that were not in compliance with State Laws, nor being handled to the best of the victims. The school board members DO NOT just represent families in their home communities but in the communities serving this school district. I know personally that some parents DO NOT feel comfortable going to their “town” school board members. I am sorry but some are not approachable. Mr. Stickney at parents/students request has attending meetings with school officials as support and a second ear – he was elected to do what he can as a board member for our district. He is not hired to the board by the admin of the school, but by the people of this district, therefore in the right by attending meeting at the request of the town people. I would say I have a concern as to our school board meeting without all its members, with smaller meetings happening. I also find this borderline bullying – the very thing Mr Stickney has been very much trying to help students and families in this district fight back on – eye raiser there!

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