TURNER — The Maine School Administrative District 52 board of directors spent much of its meeting Thursday debating amendments to updated policies, most aimed at giving parents more information before certain actions are recommended or taken.

Most of the proposed changes came from board member Peter Ricker of Turner, who offered an amendment to the revised Use and Possession of Tobacco and Electronic Smoking Devices and Regulations policy. His proposal would require parents and guardians be notified and present before students are interviewed for an alleged violation. It would also require schools to notify parents of any actions being considered against their child before punishments are determined.

Ricker said it was important that students know that their parents can be present while school officials are interviewing them for an alleged violation.

Chairman Joseph McLean of Leeds was concerned that the changes might have some unintended consequences.

Superintendent Cari Medd said it would interfere in investigations, ultimately making schools less safe.

Leavitt Area High School Principal Eben Shaw said under the possession of tobacco and electronic smoking devices policy, a student caught with alcohol or a vape, for example, is automatically suspended. It is the same situation if students are found with drugs, a weapon or fighting, he said.


“So, whether I’d call them before I make the decision on whether it’s going to be three days or five days, seems somewhat irrelevant because the student is going to be suspended,” he said.

It is off-putting to suggest that there needs to be more specific information in the policy to keep administrators in line, Shaw said. Policy updates, as originally proposed, were written to meet the district’s legal obligations. Administrators usually contact parents before an investigation is complete or punishment is decided, but the proposed amendment corners administrators in situations where they need to be flexible and agile, he said.

Director Anthony Shostak of Greene said students should have the right to request a parent be present while being questioned by administrators because they might feel intimidated. Students need to have a sense of protection; the same protections adults enjoy under the U.S. Constitution, he said.

McLean said the proposed amendment should be reflected in the policy for student questioning, instead of the possession of tobacco and electronic smoking devices policy under consideration.

Ricker said he was willing to withdraw his amendment if the Policy Committee can assure him that the student questioning policy will be revisited this year.

Policy Committee member Jaime Johnson of Turner that here is no guarantee.


Ricker’s amendment failed by a vote of 5-2.

Shostak proposed an amendment to the possession of tobacco and electronic smoking devices policy that would be cross-referenced to the student questioning policy, which was approved 4-3.

Board members voted unanimously to approve the updated policy.

The board also considered changes to the Drug and Alcohol Use by Students and Regulations policy, to which Ricker also proposed an amendment. He proposed adding wording dictating that parents be notified of treatments recommended by school staff for students. He said parents are going to know the best options for their children, most of the time, and school staff should involve them in the process.

Director Breanna Allard of Greene proposed some changes to how Ricker worded his amendment to make student action plans more of a collaborative effort between parents and staff. Ricker was amenable to the suggestion.

Johnson wanted to make sure the proposed amendment does not conflict with existing confidentiality laws.


Allard said her proposed wording would not have legal ramifications.

Board member Crystal Barus said referrals by staff are only that; parents would still need to approve any medical treatments or health services provided to students.

Medd agreed with Barus, saying district officials do not have the authority to approve medical treatments for students.

Ricker’s amendment passed with Allard’s suggested wording. Board members then approved the proposed policy changes.

The board also considered revisions to the district’s truancy policy.

Shostak took issue with parts of that as well. He said school administrators should determine if a parent is negligent in not getting their child to school. The policy creates a framework for parents to be found legally negligent in an extrajudicial process, he said.


Though this policy follows state statute, he said he believes it is the board’s duty to reject laws that are in violation of the U. S. Constitution.

Barus said it is neglectful if a parent is not sending their child to school. If a parent does not notify the school that their child will be out then someone needs to be looking out for them. She said it is the school’s duty to send a law enforcement officer to check on students, if necessary, and possibly notify the Department of Health and Human Services of the situation.

The policy was approved by all board members, except Shostak.

In other business, the board approved financing for a lease to purchase agreement through Gorham Savings Leasing Group for a bus for over five years at a total cost of $127,700.65. There will be an annual interest rate of 5.9% and the first lease payment will be made Dec. 15.

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