Letter to the editor: SAD 28 board punishes the whistleblower

Posted:  Thursday, December 21, 2017 - 7:15pm

Your rival, the Camden Herald, posted an editorial, "Chairman on a power trip," the day after our Rockport representative was fired from the MSAD Middle School Planning Committee. While the School Board chairman, Mr. Dailey, claimed throughout the SAD 28 School Board meeting on Wednesday evening, December 20, that the situation involving the FOAA request wasn’t about the request but rather it was about trust, and that he had lost his trust in the Rockport Select Board member who had been appointed, as the School Board's request, to the MSAD Middle School Visioning and Building committee because Rep. Owen Casas had answered a question from the public without first clearing it with himself, the Chair of the School Board.  

In reality, it was about him, Mr. Dailey, and several others, being caught in a lie.  The result was that he (Mr. Dailey) need to find a scapegoat, a role filled admirably by Rep. Casas.

Let me be perfectly clear, I consider myself a friend of Rep. Casas; us both having served on the Rockport Select Board and through our common bond as being veterans.  One thing I have learned about Rep. Casas during our years of friendship is that he never lies.  And, unlike some Marines, he doesn't even stretch the true (I’ll admit, I’m Army so we share a bit of rivalry on occasion).

During my nine years on the Rockport Select Board, I was occasionally approached by a citizen asking about such-and-such.  While I always tried to fill them in on what I knew about a subject, they sometimes had a desire for more in-depth information.  There were, on occasion, times when the questioner thought there might be more to a situation than I was able to convey.  On those occasions, if I wasn't able to give a satisfactory answer and the person was sure there was something being hid, I'd tell them how to use the FOAA to delve deeper into a situation.

FOAA is a state law.  It is not a whim of certain people to challenge authority.  It isn’t an imposition on local government (town, school, county, etc.).  Rather, it is a way of ensuring transparency.  In this case, there was ample evidence that the School Board and school administration weren’t being fully open with the public. Several electronic conversations between school board members and the school administration were found that indicate what could be construed as those individuals being caught in as situation that appeared to be, in the least, untruthful.  The FOAA request brought those conversations to light.

The school, both administration and board, have an obligation to be honest and straight-forward with the public.  In this case, several were caught in an outright fudging of the facts (I use that term as “lie” might be too harsh a criticism of their actions).  But, to hide their malfeasance by accusing Rep. Casas of being disloyal is utterly outrageous. 

He was asked how to proceed and gave an honest answer.  The School Board’s actions to remove him is equivalent of punishing the whistleblower.

Can we ever again believe what this School Board or administration says?  Their actions have lost them the credibility all elected boards must have to function effectively.  From here out, we must all question the veracity of all statements that come from them.

William (Bill) Chapman lives in Rockport