UPDATED: RSU 13 vice-chairman stormed into superintendent's office

Superintendent: 'I truly felt threatened'
By Daniel Dunkle | Jan 13, 2014
Photo by: Kim Lincoln School board Chairman Tess Kilgour and Vice Chairman Loren Andrews

Rockland — Superintendent Lew Collins filed a complaint to the school board about Vice Chairman Loren Andrews storming into his office in October, according to documents submitted to The Courier-Gazette.

According to the school board chairman, Andrews was there to demand the superintendent's resignation.

The documents were submitted via an anonymous mailing, but were confirmed as valid by both Collins and Andrews Jan. 13.

"Today, a board member, Loren Andrews, walked into my office while I was in my monthly meeting with a principal," Collins wrote Oct. 16. "My administrative assistant, Jenn Colby, was also with me taking notes of this meeting. Loren was obviously very agitated and demanded that I meet with him right now. His face was red and he was shaking his fist, pointing at me. I told him I was in a private meeting and yet he insisted that we talk that instant. I asked the principal to wait for me while I spoke with Loren and asked my assistant to stay and take notes. Loren did not agree to that and I told him I would not meet alone with him. I told him that Tess (Kilgour, board chairman) would need to join us and I needed to call the board attorney as well. Loren was in such an emotionally charged state that I truly felt threatened by his demeanor. I asked him to leave my office."

Collins went on to quote a rule stating that school board members have no authority when acting as individuals.

"A board member cannot disrupt the business of the district and certainly should not be rude and threatening toward a superintendent by barging into their office while he/she is in a meeting," Collins wrote. "This kind of behavior is inappropriate in so many ways. Your board attorney will advise you on this when you meet. I still don't know what Loren came to speak to me about today."

Kilgour said she also ran into Andrews that day at the district's central office in Rockland. She said he was demanding that Collins resign immediately. She also described Andrews as agitated and said she was uncomfortable.

Andrews apologized for the incident in an email Oct. 16 to Collins.

"You're absolutely right," he said. "I had no right to walk into your office today, and I sincerely apologize for my behavior. I should not have done that, and I am very sorry that you found my behavior alarming. And that I made your staff feel uncomfortable. I will apologize to them later. However, my intended discussion with you remains, and let me know if you would like to schedule a meeting."

Andrews said he went to the superintendent when he realized Collins had lost the trust and confidence of his staff. The board member said he wanted to ask what had happened and how they could get it back.

"I just should have waited my turn," he said.

Around the time of this incident in October, it was reported that staff in the district had responded to a survey saying they had low morale and felt uncomfortable speaking out.

This information was sent to the newspaper on the heels of the Jan. 9 school board meeting in which some school board members asked Andrews if he would resign from the board.

Andrews said in a phone interview Jan. 13 that in mid-December he had talked to a few of the board members and said if it would help for him and Kilgour to resign from the board, he would be willing to do that.

Kilgour announced last month that she would step down as chairman of the board in March.

Andrews said at the meeting it was an idea that was brought forth and was not part of the agreement. He said after asking around, the feedback he heard was it was not necessary. He said he intends to be a candidate for chairman in March.

Courier-Gazette News Director Daniel Dunkle can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 122 or ddunkle@courierpublicationsllc.com.

Comments (11)
Posted by: Carol W Bachofner | Jan 15, 2014 13:13

ooops, darned autocorrect or my bad typing * : /

in my previous post "sling" should be "losing"

Posted by: Carol W Bachofner | Jan 15, 2014 13:11

This outrageous and inflammatory article tells ONE side of the story. Mr Andrews is not the problem here. We are sling the two biggest problems soon enough: Collins and Kilgour as board chair. If anyone ought to step down (from the board completely) it is Kilgour.

And sending "documents" anonymously is sheer cowardice. Whoever did this should be ashamed. It does NOTHING to heal a tough situation.

Posted by: Ingrid Van Steenberg | Jan 14, 2014 16:03

Just curious....how many people usually compete for a place on the school board?

Posted by: Mary Elena Howard | Jan 14, 2014 12:42

I think Mr. Andrews has cost the district quite enough money & humiliation and to permit him to take any office in the future would be a disgrace! He has overstepped his bounds!

While THAT is the rest of the story as to the severance package, please do not lose sight of the fact that Mr. Collins' actions have caused distrust and a lack of confidence within the district, and that, combined with low morale, has a very negative impact on the students and their education. Getting things back on track in that respect should be the main concern here - having a system whereby the students feel safe, get a good education and the teachers/principals feel they have the support they need and can reach out for, and get, that support whenever they need it should be the goal.

Posted by: RUTH ROWLING MAXFIELD | Jan 14, 2014 12:35

Oh Rockland, Rockland, Rockland . . . THINK ABOUT what this muddy and mud-slinging mess is doing to the city's reputation . . . its education system's reputation.  Would YOU choose to move into this area if you had school age children?  Think about it.  Please remedy and move forward . . for all our sakes!

Posted by: Susan Sinclair | Jan 14, 2014 05:30

I would say it benefits the citizens of Rockland. This is information that indicates to the voters what their board is up to.

Posted by: Lorrie Callaway | Jan 13, 2014 20:26

And reporting this incident benefits whom???

Posted by: Russell Garfield York | Jan 13, 2014 18:12

welcome to rsu13

Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Jan 13, 2014 15:20

Just when you don't think things can get any worse. :(

"He said he intends to be a candidate for chairman in March." Please, Mr. Andrews, change your mind about that decision.

Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Jan 13, 2014 15:20

Did Andrews think intimidating the Superintendent would make things better?  Small wonder the taxpayers are paying Collins a bigseverance. Doesn't look like leadership material to me.

Posted by: Aimee Liberty | Jan 13, 2014 15:19

So that is what cost us over $100k!

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