School Administrative District 49’s search for an interim superintendent began at Monday evening’s school board meeting at Lawrence Junior High School in Fairfield.

A vote determined that the board will accept superintendent Reza Namin’s resignation, which he announced last week, effective Aug. 2. It also authorized board Chairman Shawn Knox to begin working with the Maine School Management Association to find an interim superintendent to fill Namin’s vacancy.

Reza Namin, superintendent of School Administrative District 49, shown earlier this year at a school board meeting, has resigned after nearly a year on the job. Morning Sentinel file photo by Michael G. Seamans

Namin served less than one year as the SAD 49 superintendent but garnered mixed opinions from students, faculty and the community during that time, mostly because of his controversial restructuring plans.

The board also voted to amend the length of the interim superintendent’s term. Originally, the board was planning to hire a superintendent for six months; but after members voiced concerns of instability, they decided to extend that period to a full school year.

Board member Katie Flood specifically asked Knox to reconsider the term length.

“I think we owe it to the incoming senior class,” Flood said. “We owe it to them to not be transitioning and searching for someone during the school year, so I’m in favor of having an interim serve for a full school year.”

The board also heard comments from the public about Namin’s resignation.

Karen Foster, a teacher at Lawrence High School, read a statement on behalf of a student who was unable to attend the meeting.

“I want to thank Dr. Namin for his time at SAD 49,” Foster said. “We were in it for the long run to make changes. … He did let us down, but thank you to him for making the students and the Bulldog pride stronger than ever. … I hope, with this last year, the board chooses the administration carefully. … Don’t let the class of 2020 spend their last days as the class of 2019 did.”

However, Tim Alberts, a fellow Lawrence teacher and the director of the district’s teacher’s association, voiced clear disappointment toward the board for the way Namin was treated.

“I’m disheartened by the board using the superintendent as a scapegoat. … He has chosen to move on to a place where people want him,” Alberts said. “Students, faculty and the community have been misled by all the rumors. In my 34 years of teaching, Dr. Namin is the first superintendent who takes students and faculty first.”

One resident who was not identified echoed Albert’s disappointment and personally apologized to Namin for not speaking up in his defense.

“It takes a lot of courage for Tim to stand up and say that. … I think some board members should do some soul searching and consider whether they’ve benefited the health of the school,” he said. “And I apologize, Dr. Namin, that I didn’t stand up at a time where the students may have listened to me.”

Namin announced early last week via email that he was resigning as superintendent in order to pursue a new position as the dean of STEM and accountability at a public charter school in Massachusetts. In an interview, he declined to identify the school.

Also at Monday night’s meeting, the board broke into two executive sessions. The first, which lasted just under an hour, was to interview a new candidate for the assistant principal position at Lawrence High School. That session concluded with the board’s approval to allow Namin and Knox to begin negotiating the position with the candidate.

The next was called by board member Katrina Dumont in order to discuss “legal rights and duties.” The details of what was discussed in this session were not disclosed, and the meeting was adjourned directly upon the end of the session.

The school district includes the towns of Albion, Benton, Clinton and Fairfield.

The school board plans to meet Tuesday at Lawrence Junior High School to discuss the budget for the upcoming school year.

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