FREEPORT — A Freeport Middle School teacher who allegedly made a remark in class about taking students to the school’s roof and shooting them faces a misdemeanor charge of terrorizing.

David Mason, 58, of Yarmouth was issued a court summons Feb. 14 in connection with the alleged incident a week earlier, said Freeport police Lt. Susan Nourse.

Nourse said Tuesday that the case has been submitted to the Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office, and that police will not release further details.

Charly Haversat said Tuesday that she was told by her son, Theo Matheson, that Mason told the seventh-graders he would shoot them.

“He was so frustrated with them that he wanted to take them to the roof and shoot them. … I think Theo said (with an) M-16,” she said.

Haversat said her son believed that Mason was trying to be funny, but he didn’t think the teacher succeeded.

Haversat said the comment was very inappropriate, especially given the shootings that have occurred in schools around the country.

Mason declined to comment Tuesday and referred questions to his lawyer, John Richardson.

Richardson would not say what Mason said in the class. But he characterized the remark as an isolated and unfortunate tongue-in-cheek comment that has been blown out of proportion.

“It was absolutely a remark that everyone wishes they could take back — not a remark that was meant seriously nor one that is indicative of what this man is about: 30 years of teaching,” Richardson said.

Regional School Unit 5 officials began investigating after receiving reports of the incident on Feb. 9, said Superintendent Shannon Welsh.

Welsh would describe the incident only as involving an allegation that a teacher made an inappropriate, threatening statement to seventh-graders during a class.

She said the school investigation, which is separate from the criminal investigation, began immediately, and that the teacher was not allowed to be in the school building.

She would not identify the teacher as Mason, who has been on paid administrative leave since Feb. 9, nor would she discuss whether the teacher has had disciplinary issues in the past.

“We are trying to be fair to everyone in this situation while assuring our parents that we are taking this seriously and withholding judgment until the investigation is complete,” Welsh said.

After parents came forward with questions and concerns, school officials issued a letter to middle school parents on Feb. 17, saying the teacher will not be allowed in the building until school officials are assured there is no threat.

Welsh said she did not know whether the district’s policies address criminal convictions of teachers.

The terrorizing charge against Mason is a Class D offense, the second-lowest level. It carries a maximum penalty of a year in jail and a $2,000 fine. One element of terrorizing is that the person to whom the threat is directed has a reasonable fear that the act will be committed.

Haversat said school officials are handling the situation admirably and she awaits the completion of the investigation. She remains concerned about the incident.

“I think Mr. Mason’s comment was very inappropriate, even if it was intended to be funny,” Haversat said.

The Coastal Education Association, the union that represents Freeport teachers, had no comment on Mason’s situation because it is a personnel issue, said Nancy Drolet, the union’s president.

Mason received his first teacher certification in Maine in July 1976, and has had continuous certification since then, according to the Maine Department of Education. His current certification expires in July 2013.

There is no record of suspension or revocation of Mason’s certification, said David Connerty-Marin, a spokesman for the department. He said the department may take action on a teacher certification because of a disciplinary problem, but such matters are not necessarily brought to the state’s attention.

Mason is scheduled to appear in West Bath District Court on April 17. 

Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at: [email protected]

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