FAIRFIELD — At least one employee of the local school district who is leaving after this school year said recent changes made by the new superintendent and a controversial administrative restructuring plan are unrelated to her decision to leave.

However, the superintendent of School Administrative District 49 also said at least one employee is leaving the district this year because he didn’t like the restructuring process.

On Thursday the school board received the resignations of seven employees: three high school teachers, an elementary school teacher, two special education employees and the assistant principal at Lawrence High School. An additional resignation from a special education teacher was submitted in May.

“In any school system during the transition into next year, there are staff movements,” Superintendent Reza Namin said in an email Wednesday. “With any change, there is an opportunity and challenges for staff. We continue to have high regards into retaining our staff and also respect each staff and his/her professional and personal growth and needs.”

The resignations come as the last few months have brought concerns about the district’s ability to retain and hire new faculty members after an administrative restructuring plan that aimed to change or eliminate 13 administrative jobs was poorly received. The plan also resulted in the buyout and resignation of three former administrators, including the high school principal.

School board Chairman Shawn Knox said in an email Thursday he didn’t know the specific reasons for the recent resignations.

“I have high regard and respect for the employees in our district and sincerely hope that the District does not lose valued employees because of the initial restructuring decision,” Knox said. “The benefits of a career in our district are great, and being a part of bulldog pride is something to be proud of.”

Members of the school community have expressed at recent meetings about faculty members leaving and the effect the plan and its fallout will have on hiring.

“The actions of the superintendent and the board might encourage some teachers to leave our district,” Lawrence High School teacher Eric Brown said at a May 23 school board meeting. “I have heard many are searching for letters of recommendation. That’s doubly concerning, because without a high school principal, how will we hire for any jobs that come open?”

At the same meeting, Haley Hersey, the student representative to the board, said students were worried about losing their teachers.

“On a daily basis you can hear people worried about their jobs or worried about their teachers’ jobs,” she said.

Namin said Wednesday the seven employees whose resignations were submitted to the board this week are leaving for a variety of reasons including taking jobs that are closer to home or pay better.

He also said Lawrence High School Assistant Principal Karl Matulis is leaving because he “didn’t like the restructuring process.”

Matulis did not respond to a phone call or email seeking comment. Most of the other employees who submitted their resignations also did not respond to requests for comment.

However, Jan Landry, the district’s administrative assistant in the special education department, said in an interview she is leaving the district to work as a project scheduler for a contractor of Central Maine Power.

She said the job was an “opportunity that came to me that I couldn’t refuse” and the decision was unrelated to recent controversies in the district.

“No, it was actually the prior years that have been more difficult and prior years’ leadership that lead to an environment that I could no longer support,” she said. “I don’t want to name names, but the differences between the prior (special education) director and I for six or seven years just left the department in a tough situation, and I’m just exhausted from it.”

Former Special Education Director Cory Rogers was one of the three employees who received buyouts from the district after their jobs were changed or eliminated.

About one month later, however, the school board reversed their decision to restructure the special education director job and authorized the superintendent to make a new hire under the old job description.

On Wednesday Namin revealed an email from Landry in which she told him “this is not on you.”

“In the midst of all that is going on, I wanted to be sure that everyone understands that I am not ‘jumping ship’ or departing because of all that is uncertain in our District at this time,” she wrote.

For years, she said, the special education department has been dealing with more issues and more serious issues, and the ratios of teachers and education technicians to students hasn’t kept up.

“It has been years deteriorating and I’m exhausted from it all,” she wrote to Namin. “Thank you for the time we have spent together and for doing what needed to be done years ago.”

 

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