Petition at 'Keag Store taken by school board rep
South Thomaston — A petition asking residents to seek state aid in disbanding the Regional School Unit 13 board was taken from the 'Keag Store by the South Thomaston school board representative, according to the store's manager.
Pam Paquette, the 'Keag Store manager, said a co-worker saw Christine Curtis take the petition. It was later confirmed through video surveillance footage Curtis did remove the petition from the counter.
"I was hoping it was an accident, and that she took it when she picked up her mail, " said Paquette. " But it was not accidental."
The petition was taken Feb. 11, and Curtis' husband returned it a couple days later, said Paquette.
She said Curtis has apologized, saying it was a lapse in judgement.
The petition, which currently has 84 signatures, states, "We the undersigned of this petition would like to have it known that the people of Knox County who live in RSU 13 school district have no confidence in the current administration or the school board to lead our district through its current turmoil," the petition states.
"Due to the amount of discord in the operations of the district at the board and administration level, we would respectfully request that the Secretary of Education for the state of Maine intervene on behalf of the children of RSU 13 and disband the current board and reorganize the district in a manner that serves to best educate the children of the district," it reads.
"I think it's unfortunate. I would think as a school board member, you would hold yourself to a higher standard," Paquette said.
In an email, Curtis said she took the survey in good faith, not to deprive anyone of signing it, but because she wanted to ascertain who sponsored the survey.
"I wanted talk to the person to listen to his or her concerns in detail. After reviewing it I discovered the sponsor's name and contact information were not on the survey, but the local sponsor's name was published in other media and I was able to contact her. I have apologized to her and others. I ran for the position because I am dedicated to my community and wanted the town of South Thomaston to have a voice on the school board. I encourage residents of South Thomaston to feel free to contact me with questions and concerns regarding school matters. I want the best education for our children within the means of our community," she said.
Curtis is running unopposed for another term on the board.
Petitions also are circulating in both Thomaston and Rockland seeking to withdraw from the district and operate independently.
The petitions are emerging as problems within the school district mount, including the resignation of Superintendent Lew Collins and administrative leave of Business Manager Scott Vaitones.
Collins resigned from the job Dec. 31, with his last day being Feb. 15. He cited the lack of unity on the school board as the reason for his departure. The district agreed to a nearly $100,000 settlement. The board is in the midst of negotiating a settlement with Vaitones.
RSU 13 includes schools in the towns of Rockland, Thomaston, South Thomaston, Owls Head, Cushing and St. George.
Courier Publications' reporter Juliette Laaka can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 118 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.