No, town officials say, the seat on the local school board is not cursed.
Still, for the fourth time in about a year, the town is seeking candidates to fill the seat, which still has nearly two years left on its term. Longtime board member Donna Doucette was elected to the three-year term on Regional School Unit 18’s board in early 2013, but she unexpectedly quit in June amid a contentious debate about a curriculum change at the district.
The seat has been in a transitional phase ever since, and the Oakland Town Council now is looking for a fourth slate of candidates to consider for picking the latest appointment to the post.
Town Manager Peter Nielsen put out a call for candidates this week, asking that anyone wishing to fill the post contact him at 465-7357 before March 20 to indicate interest formally.
Doucette, who opposed the district’s curriculum change, quit after a closed-door meeting in which she said she was verbally attacked by district administrators and other board members. The resignation touched off a search in Oakland for a second person to fill the seat.
Groups from both sides of the educational debate rushed to fill the void. In July, Oakland’s Town Council appointed Mary-Anne LaMarre, who supported the curriculum, to fill the post. Two other candidates, James Stewart and Tom Burton, also were praised for their qualifications but were not chosen.
But LaMarre was appointed to serve only on an interim basis, until an election in November could find a permanent replacement.
In November, voters elected former Thomas College professor Emily Shaw as the third person to fill the seat, while LaMarre was elected to a different vacancy on the board. She is scheduled to switch from Doucette’s original seat to her new seat on July 1.
Now Shaw has announced that she is moving away from the area and can’t hold the seat after all, requiring the selection of a fourth person to occupy the post.
Nielsen said he has contacted Burton and Stewart to see whether they have any interest.
“Stewart said he had other responsibilities that would make this not an ideal time,” Nielsen said. Burton, who is also the assistant director of athletics at Colby College, did express interest, thereby becoming the first candidate in the fourth attempt to fill the seat.
The council hopes to make a decision shortly after the March 20 meeting, Nielsen said.