Letter to the editor: SAD 28 board vote was disservice to school system, slap to Rockport

Posted:  Thursday, December 21, 2017 - 7:00pm

I was unable to attend the school board meeting Wednesday night but submitted an email to the board in support of keeping Owen Casas on the building committee.

This afternoon I watched the video of the school board meeting and eventually walked away with one primary thought. That thought was this was a very sad and unfortunate day for our local community school board.  I have lived in Rockport or Lincolnville my entire life. I was born and raised in Rockport and today live in that same home on Vinal Street. For close to 30 years, I have served on town committees, school boards, as well as boards of state agencies and nonprofit organizations. Having served in many different capacities, I have great respect for those that put the time in to get the hard work done. As one of the speakers noted, serving on town or school boards and committees are often considered thankless jobs, but fortunately we have people willing to step to the plate. 

Early on in my time of serving on a board, I went through a hard situation and learned a tough lesson. The lesson was that Perception is Reality. It was clear watching the video of last evenings meeting that several members of the MSAD 28 school board do not understand that. The perception of many, including myself, is that the discussion and vote of the board, devolved into whether the board members were going to support Mr. Dailey or Mr. Casas. That is a sad and unfortunate outcome of a meeting like this. The role of a board member is not to play personal politics and it is not to simply show loyalty to another board member or in this case the board chair.

Continuing on this perception is reality thought, the body language and behavior of Mr. Dailey during the meeting is indefensible. How many times did he interrupt someone who was talking at the podium? As chair, he wields the right to interrupt based on rules of order, yet not once did he do so. His interruptions were instead to primarily argue with whomever was providing comment. The most disheartening aspect was listening to Mr. Dailey interrupt a speaker to say “I don’t know him” or choosing to add after the speaker left the podium “we don’t know each other well enough for this to be personal” while watching his body language during the evening. His body language was very clearly stating that he was taking this personally. His previous online back and forth with Owen and the Rockport Select Board, were warnings that Mr. Dailey was taking this personally.

My hope was that I would watch the meeting and find that this was not a personal issue, but sadly that is not what I saw. My hope was that another school board member would take the reigns for this portion of the meeting, as I believe Geoff Parker suggested. That would have shown more forethought and sensitivity to the matter.   If this was not a personal issue, we would have witnessed a much different exchange. From the moment, the discussion started with Mr. Dailey providing background, to him interrupting Mr. Casas and then multiple other people, it was crystal clear that this was a personal issue. I might add that it appeared to be a personal issue for Mr. Dailey. Mr. Casas was in fact much more composed and even keeled.  Remember – Perception is Reality.  

The real question for the board should have been, is Mr. Casas a valuable member of the building committee. From what I heard in the community, there is no question that he has been an active and valuable member on that committee, and nobody stated differently during the board meeting. Instead the board, voted to simply support Mr. Dailey who wanted Mr. Casas gone. In my opinion, the school board vote to remove Mr. Casas from the building committee was a disservice to our school system, a slap in the face to the Town of Rockport, and will likely discourage people from wanting to involve themselves in committees like this going forward.

It is important to note, that I do not know Mr. Dailey and I only know Mr. Casas as an acquaintance, as one of my home town Select Board members and as one of my state legislators. I have not been someone going after the school board in regards to the new school process and the MET. I am though, a lifelong area resident that expects more than what I witnessed while watching the video this afternoon.

Last of all, to answer the question that Mr. Dailey was obsessed with asking many times during the meeting – was it honest of Mr. Casas not to disclose he was part of the FOAA request?   Mr. Dailey – Mr. Casas DID NOT have an obligation, based on his involvement on the building committee to disclose that he was involved in the FOAA request. Mr. Casas is not an elected member of the school board. Mr. Casas sat on the building committee and the FOAA request was not a topic of conversation at the building committee meetings. When he became a member of the building committee, Mr. Casas did not sign some blind allegiance to Mr. Dailey and the other board and committee members.

I understand that some people may be offended that he did not tell them he was part of the FOAA request and that this was dishonest in some way, but this same behavior happens in many aspects of our lives every day. Does one go out of their way to tell their coworkers, children or significant other, everything they know? No – that is reality – people understand that and work through it, though they may feel offended at times. Mr. Dailey chose to not work through it, made it personal and simply wanted Mr. Casas removed.

Stephen Hand lives in Rockport