A parent suing the Maranacook schools over an allegation that a teacher placed a bag over his daughter’s head to humiliate her is now one of Readfield’s representatives on the regional school board.

Adam Woodford was appointed by a 5-0 vote of Readfield selectmen last month. He is the interim replacement for James Marr, who resigned in mid-September.

Marr was elected as a write-in candidate in June 2015.

Woodford was appointed to serve until June 30, 2017, and is one of Readfield’s four representatives to the board of directors of Regional School Unit 38/Maranacook schools.

Woodford, 38, who works at Dingley Press, addressed the lawsuit at the selectmen’s meeting before his appointment. He said he had been attending a number of school board meetings since the 2015 incident at Readfield Elementary School involving his daughter.

“Litigating was not my intent throughout the whole entire thing with the school board,” Woodford told the Selectboard, saying he was forced to do that to get information about personnel.

He said the school board discussions now have little to nothing to do with the lawsuit and that he would recuse himself from anything involved with the case.

He said he found the school board meetings and operations to be interesting, and he added, “I think it’s important to have community members be listened to by the school board.”

Woodford reiterated that concern Wednesday, saying the school system is a bureaucracy.

“It becomes impersonal,” he said, adding that he intends to be a sounding board to listen to parents.

Woodford declined to make a commitment to run for the elective post when Selectman John Parent asked. However, Woodford also noted that his youngest daughter is in first grade, so he anticipates being with the district for quite a while. Another of Woodford’s four daughters, Hannah, is the student representative to school board.

Selectboard members thanked Woodford for volunteering for the job. His was the only application for the post contained in the Selectboard packet.

The post had been advertised on the town’s website for a month before the appointment.

Woodford and his wife, Michelle Woodford, on behalf of their daughter “SW,” sued RSU 38 and a teacher, Laura Reville, of Vienna, in November 2016, charging that Reville placed a bag over their daughter’s head four times during class from September to November 2015 in an act aimed at humiliating and embarrassing her. Reville is a fifth-grade teacher at Readfield Elementary School.

The parents say in the lawsuit that the head-bagging was reported by another student in the class and later investigated by Superintendent Donna Wolfrom. The parents also say they confronted Reville, who indicated “it was in jest.”

At the end of November 2015, the Woodfords’ daughter was transferred to another classroom.

The Woodfords, through attorneys Seth Brewster and Neal Pratt, sued the district as well, claiming it violated the state Freedom of Access Act and an anti-bullying statute in connection with results of a school investigation into the incidents.

The lawsuit, which originated in Kennebec County Superior Court, was removed to federal court by John Wall III, the attorney defending Reville.

Wall sought to have it handled in U.S. District Court for the District of Maine on the basis that the Woodfords seek “damages for alleged violations of the United States Constitution.”

And in a response to claims in the lawsuit, Wall wrote that Reville denies the allegations that she placed a bag over the girls head in the middle of class and intended to humiliate and embarrass her.

It also says Reville discussed with the parents “instances in which their daughter’s uncontrollable laughter prompted (Reville) to take actions to calm their daughter down.”

It also says that Reville’s conduct “did not violate any clearly established constitutional or statutory rights of the plaintiffs.”

Earlier this month, another attorney, Laura A. Berry, also indicated she was representing Reville.

The school district, in a Jan. 5, 2017, response to the complaint by attorneys Michael Buescher and Bruce W. Smith, denies the allegations about the head-bagging incident and says no other students were treated similarly.

It also agrees that the Woodfords talked to the teacher about the conduct on Nov. 10, 2015.

The judge recently granted a confidentiality order, which allows documents to be shared among the parties but not made public, to facilitate discovery. The motion was supported by all the attorneys.

Currently the Maine Education Association, represented by attorneys Jeffrey Neil Young and Max Brooks, is involved as well.

Following a Feb. 7, 2017, telephone conference with all attorneys, U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge John C. Nivison ordered the association to produce an unidentified news release that was sought via subpoena.

The case has a trial date in the fall.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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