The math teacher whose investigation by the superintendent sparked student protests has resigned from his position for violating school policies, but has received a letter stating that the investigation found no evidence of sexual misconduct with students.

Anthony Pranses Courtesy photo

Anthony Pranses resigned on Friday his position at Carrabec High School in North Anson after a weeks’ long investigation conducted by Regional School Unit 74 Superintendent Mike Tracy into a complaint made by a member of the school community. During the investigation Pranses had been placed on paid administrative leave.

A letter released by Tracy states that Pranses acknowledged “that he has violated the terms of his administrative leave and the District’s Staff Conduct with Students policy,” but found no evidence of sexual misconduct.

Tracy hopes that the RSU 74 community can begin to get back to normal.

“I hope that we can start fresh and that if he (Pranses) chooses to be a part of this community, we can be cordial and friendly. We’re here to serve the community, not the other way around, and I hope that parents that are frustrated will give us a chance to get things back to normal.”

Pranses, however, who plans to lay low for a while, said in a phone call Friday that he intends to join with parents who are bent on removing Tracy as superintendent.

“All of those people are counting on me, and I believe that (Tracy) needs to go,” Pranses said. “He destroyed me and he hurt those kids. I also think that the school board did the community a disservice. If they would have let people speak, it would have gone much smoother. It didn’t seem like there were any adults in the room.”

 

 

At Wednesday night’s school board meeting, Board Chair Robert Demchak told community members that comment guidelines included that personnel matters could not be discussed, that the comments must be related to an agenda item, and that comments must remain civil and not target specific individuals. But that didn’t stop some from breaking the rules.

Leah May, a parent of a Carrabec High School student, said that parents should have been notified before their children were questioned about Pranses and his alleged conduct. Demchak gaveled her several times, but May continued to press the board until she was removed by an off-duty police officer.

May, of North Anson, said on Friday that she is frustrated with the administration because of how several past complaints have been handled and how poorly she believes the investigation of Pranses was conducted.

“Anybody that stood up to say anything (about the matter) was pretty much shut down once they started bringing up anything about it,” May said. “My whole feeling on this is that my First Amendment rights were 100% violated in that meeting, and as far as I’m concerned, the board, who is there to let us voice our concerns with the school and the administration, didn’t allow us to do that.”

Mike Tracy, superintendent in Regional School Unit 74, said Nov. 18 that no students were suspended for walking out of Carrabec High School in North Anson on Nov. 15 in support of Anthony Pranses, a teacher who had been placed on administrative leave amid an investigation into a complaint about him. Prances resigned Friday.

Tracy said that because personnel procedures must be kept confidential, many of the matters being brought up at Wednesday’s meetings could not be discussed because of school policy and state laws.

“I feel bad for the folks that wanted to be heard and I feel bad for the public because I don’t think people understand that we, by policy and law, could not talk about it,” Tracy said. “I believe that the board followed policy protocol and the law.”

Tracy said that he plans to send a letter to the community on Friday addressing this matter and explaining ways to bring up matters to him moving forward.

May, who has started a petition that she brought with her to Wednesday’s meeting, said that she plans to push more to have members of the board removed and the superintendent removed.

May’s petition reads: “Mike Tracy has failed the students and parents of MSAD #74 with the improper handing of situations that have been brought to his attention. He has questioned students about intimate matters with intimidation, without parental consent, and without going through the proper channels.

“We the undersigned ask for the immediate termination of Mike Tracy’s contract with MSAD #74.”

At Wednesday’s meeting, May said she had collected about 300 signatures, but has since had people from the community reach out to her who are interested in signing.

Tracy said on Friday that he believes in people’s right to petition and encourages parents to reach out to him to discuss their issues.

“I believe thoroughly that the constituents of MSAD 74 have a right to have a voice,” Tracy said. “If they believe that their superintendent has done something, they have their rights under the First Amendment to petition that. They have the right to speak out and be heard and the right to protest the removal of the superintendent.

“I would just ask that they give me a chance to see the process through,” Tracy said. “I would like them to bring their concerns to me first. This notion that ‘he’s well aware of all of these things’ is not necessarily true. I was not formally aware of some of these concerns outside of parents protesting Mr. Tracy’s handling of the Mr. Pranses matter.”

As May was being removed from Wednesday’s meeting, she pointed to the board and told them to expect to hear from her lawyer with a sexual harassment lawsuit, referring to an incident involving her daughter recently at school.

“My problem is that the administration is handling everything incorrectly,” May said. “At this point, we are going to continue to collect signatures, and I plan on filing complaints with DHHS and the Department of Education.”

Tracy said he “wasn’t aware of any violations that folks were concerned about with me.”

“I want parents to be free and believe in their rights, and I hope that they can give me a shot to remedy their concerns,” Tracy said. “My hope is that Mr. Pranses can come back to participate in school events in a cordial way because I plan to be there as well.”

“I hope that we can get back to normal.”

RSU 74 serves the communities and towns of Anson, Embden, New Portland, North Anson and Solon.

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