FAIRFIELD — The area school board refused to allow a teacher at Lawrence High School to address the board about ongoing concerns with harassment and bullying at the school because the teacher missed the public comment period the board held two minutes into its meeting Thursday.

Isaac Badenya Thomas, a world languages teacher and the current teacher of the month at Lawrence High, had intended to speak to the Maine School Administrative District 49 board of directors. But he was a few minutes late for the start of the meeting and the board moved quickly through the initial agenda items, including the time for public comment.

Thomas later asked the board to allow him to speak but Vice Chairwoman Danielle Boutin — who was running the meeting in the absence of Chairwoman Karen Kusiak — would not allow it, and said he could speak to board members after the meeting. Thomas handed out written copies of his remarks and when the board held a five-minute recess before entering executive session, which is not open to the public, Thomas waited in the gymnasium. None of the board members came to speak with him.

“I’ll speak at the next school board meeting, but I’m just giving them information they already have in their hands tonight and which they’ve known for 11 months,” Thomas said after the meeting.

Thomas addressed the board last year alongside the parent of a high school student to address what they said was a hostile environment at the school in which students use racial slurs and harass their LGBTQ peers. They said the behavior was not adequately addressed by school administrators.

After hearing concerns last year, the board created a subcommittee to find the best way for the board to address the issue. At the time, high school Principal Dan Bowers acknowledged the allegations and that “we do have work to do, and we recognize that.”

In his written statement, Thomas claimed the problems have only gotten worse this year. He said administrators have admonished him as he’s tried to raise the concerns and that attempts to report harassment to senior officials in the school district have been ignored.

“I never heard from you or from your subcommittee,” Thomas said in his statement. “Things got worse. We need your help.”

Emails and calls to Boutin, Bowers and Superintendent Roberta Hersom were not returned Friday.

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