Letter to the editor: Regarding the Removal of the Rockport Representative from the Camden-Rockport Middle School Building Committee

Posted:  Saturday, December 23, 2017 - 2:45pm
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I am Lynda Chilton, Vice Chairwoman of the School Administrative District 28 School Board and I am in my fifth year of service. I am writing today to respond to recent letters from Bill Chapman and Steven Hand to offer some clarity on this current discussion and in defense of our long-serving and highly qualified Chairman, Matt Dailey.
 
First, let me underscore that the School Board has no issue with the FOAA request from last August in reference to the fate of the Mary E. Taylor building and the new school construction. It is the public’s right to ask for emails from public servants and volunteers on topics relating to municipal business. To our knowledge, the person making that request had not been in contact with the School Board at any other time, either to ask questions or make comments, which did bring up the question of the motivation behind the request. Nonetheless, the approximately nine hundred pages of emails produced, contained no falsehoods, no misleading information or any other malfeasance.
 
Second, to addresss the current discussion taking place in the media and in public regarding the removal of Owen Casas from the Camden Rockport Middle School Building Committee. This removal was directly related to his actions while serving on this committee. Perhaps Mr. Casas sees nothing wrong with assisting in the FOAA request, likely helping to annotate and edit the emails, and encouraging the FOAA requester to send the edited version to both the Rockport Select Board and the Camden Select Board. That was followed by sending the documents to the Maine Ombudsman, Assistant Attorney General Brenda Kielty, with a complaint about the School Board’s integrity in this matter. All while not disclosing to the committee or the Board his concerns with the process or his involvement with this FOAA request. 
 
To the School Board, these actions and his lack of disclosure about these actions, undermine and subvert the business of the School Board relating to getting a new facility built for our school children. His actions demonstrate a lack of trust in the very committee on which he was serving. Mr. Casas served on this committee for the last couple of years. He was fully aware of the number of public forums, listening sessions with a variety of local organizations, focus groups etc, that the district conducted to gather public input about a new facility for our middle school kids. He knew what was going on with the middle school project and MET plans. Little did we know he was working behind the scenes to disrupt the good work of the committee and Board by trying to find fault and place blame, seemingly because he and few others were dissatisfied with the outcome. 
 
Mr. Chapman mentions “whistle-blowing” which assumes some form of wrong-doing on the part of the School Board. There is no such evidence and to accuse the School Board of dishonesty, fudging or intentional unethical behavior is offensive and ill-informed. Why is all this effort being directed towards finding fault with the governance of the School Board? We on the School Board strive to be as open, engaging and transparent as possible in all our deliberations. To assume otherwise is ridiculous. Another clarification to a point made by Mr. Hand regarding Mr. Casas’s removal being a “slap in the face of the Town of Rockport”—the Select Board of Rockport has the right to nominate someone else for the position if they so choose. To falsely accuse the Board of lying is the unethical behavior in this situation.
 
And now a few words about the chairman of the SAD 28 School Board. I have worked with Matt Dailey for the last five years. He is one of the most self-effacing and humble people that I have ever had the pleasure of working with. The idea that he is on some kind of “power trip” is laughable. He is devoted to the work of the School Board and to making our school system one of the best in the State. He has no goals to run for any other office or has any designs on a future political career. So a “power trip” is a gross miss-characterization of his intentions. His and our frustrations lie in the fact that Mr. Casas and others seem intent on stirring the pot when there are no issues to be stirred. Is it Mr. Casas who is on the power trip, constantly trying to get his name in the paper for future political gain? This resulting baseless controversy is doing serious damage in this community and maligning a quiet, and intensely ethical person who is doing his best to serve our children and our community.
 
I trust that this adds some insight to this situation and hopefully wraps-up the discussion on this topic. I speak for the School Board, in reiterating that we have made our decision and are moving forward with the business of managing our schools and the considerable job of overseeing the construction of a wonderful new facility for our middle school children.
 
Lynda Chilton lives in Rockport