AUGUSTA — Sharon Pearl’s 11-year-old granddaughter, Destinee, came home from Farrington School crying on Friday night with a letter saying that Principal Lori Smail had resigned.

The school’s four-year leader, a National Distinguished Principal of the year in 2013, submitted a letter on May 12 resigning from the post effective at year’s end and has been out of the school on leave for a family emergency.

Her resignation coincided with officials finding testing irregularities in May that led to mathematics assessment results being thrown out for 106 students and an investigation by the Maine Department of Education, but Smail has told the Kennebec Journal that her resignation was unrelated to that.

Pearl said Smail sat in on her granddaughter’s individualized education program meeting and called Smail “an advocate” for Destinee.

“She took the time to speak with you,” she said.

Pearl was among about eight parents who met on Wednesday evening with Superintendent James Anastasio and other officials to discuss the situation at Farrington.


The meeting was intended to gauge what they wanted to see in a future principal, but it prompted questions about the testing problems and the school’s handling of Smail’s departure.

Regarding testing, Smail has said “the error that was made was unintentional,” but a letter from the Department of Education to Anastasio obtained by the Kennebec Journal after a public access request says test aids were “intentionally made available” to students in grades three through six who took the Maine Educational Assessments this year.

The letter says that posters and other materials showing equations and formulas, multiplication tables and other facts were placed in two testing rooms in which Farrington students took the tests this year in an apparent violation of test rules.

Anastasio told parents that several teachers put them there and that Smail self-reported the issues to the education department on May 8. He said Smail chose to resign “without discussion with us.”

The state is reviewing the findings to decide whether sanctions will be levied against the school. No teachers have been disciplined ahead of the education department’s finding. A parent asked whether the school was considering disciplinary measures, and Anastasio said, “It’s fair to assume that the DOE is looking at that, and at some point we will have to look at it, too, depending on what they do.”

Parents said that teachers were mum when pupils asked about Smail’s absence. Anya Goldey, the mother of two children at the school, said she questioned whether there was “effective leadership” at the district and said it led her to “connect the dots before getting any prior notification.”


Goldey said Smail “knew every child’s first name basically” and said her departure was disruptive to her pupils.

“I think she will be really hard to replace,” Goldey said.

Officials apologized for the absence and said they’re committed to hiring a qualified candidate for the job. The school department already has posted Smail’s job with applications due by June 12.

“It’s a loss for you guys and the kids and the staff and this whole community,” said Donna Madore, Augusta’s assistant superintendent.

Michael Shepherd — 370-7652

[email protected]

Twitter: @mikeshepherdme

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