Discussions about the position on SAD 28's Camden Rockport Middle School Building Committee held by Rockport Select Board member Owen Casas will be held this month by the Rockport Select Board and the SAD 28 School Board.

The Rockport Select Board meeting is Dec. 7 at 7 p.m. The SAD 28 School Board meets Dec. 20 at 7 p.m. Both meetings will be held in the Community Meeting Room at the Rockport Opera House.

The need to nominate a new member to the committee was communicated via email by SAD 28 Board Chairman Matt Dailey Nov. 22, to Casas, Rockport Town Manager Rick Bates and Rockport Select Board Chairman Ken McKinley, according to Dailey.

Dailey explained in a Dec. 4 email, "It is not a request. The MSAD 28 Board has complete authority over the membership of the committee it creates. A seat on the CRMS Building Committee was created as a courtesy to the Rockport Select Board. The Rockport Select Board can either nominate another member to the CRMS Building Committee or have no one serve."

Dailey and Casas see the issue differently. Dailey states that the SAD 28 Board has removed Casas from the Building Committee. Casas is waiting for what he terms due process before the School Board Dec. 20.

Casas said Dec. 5 that the request came from Dailey, and that he objected to "one person overstepping their authority." He said he turned the matter over to McKinley and Bates. Casas said he does not object to following the stated policies of SAD 28 regarding his position, or the Rockport Select Board's position, on the School Board's Building Committee.

Casas was a member of the middle school building visioning committee and stayed on the committee through 2016. After he was elected state representative, he notified the committee that he would not have time to continue his work on the committee. His position was not filled by either the Rockport Select Board or by the School Board.

When the middle school referendum bond passed in June 2017, Casas pointed out to the Rockport Select Board that it did not have representation on the Building Committee, and asked if any other board member wanted to join the committee. He said he told the board "if no one stepped up, I said I was happy to do that."

"That is the same thing I will say on Thursday," he said.  Casas said he has a "good body of knowledge around the topic we're discussing," but if someone else wants to step up and do this, he is fine with that.. He added that if the Rockport Select Board wants him to step aside from the School Board's Building Committee," that's OK. What I'm not OK with is the School Board chair overstepping his authority and asking me to do this."

Reason for removal

Dailey states in his Dec. 4 email that the reason for Casas' removal is "that he did not disclose to the School Board his role in the August Freedom of Access Act request. He supported an effort that he knew was without merit and would be costly to the school district in terms of money and time.

We are in the process of building a new school and that requires everyone's absolute best efforts. The School Board and its subcommittees function at their best when the words and actions of each member can be trusted. Owen can no longer be trusted in that role."

The FOAA request Dailey refers to was submitted by private citizen Maggie Timmerman to the SAD 28 Board, requesting all emails and documents pertaining to discussions about the Mary E. Taylor building. In November, after Timmerman reviewed nearly 900 pages of documentation received from SAD 28, as a result of her request, she sent about 80 pages of the documentation to the Camden and Rockport Select Boards.

In a cover letter to the town boards, Timmerman expressed the concerns that led to her request for information as "conflicting statements by school leadership before and after" the June 2017 middle school vote, and a failure "to adequately explain to the community" that MET would not be part of the middle school project and would be demolished.

On Dec. 5, Casas explained his connection to the FOAA request. He explained that Timmerman, his wife, Marci Casas, and he were all following the MET issue. Based on the concerns around this issue, he said he was asked what he would do. His opinion was to submit a FOAA request.

Casas believes that Dailey took issue with the fact that Casas was aware that a FOAA request was submitted to SAD 28, but he did not inform the SAD 28 Board about the FOAA request.