Superintendent Jay Charette, left, and Regional School Unit 38 board Chairperson Shawn Roderick confer during a meeting last year at Maranacook Community Middle School in Readfield. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

READFIELD — A teacher in the Readfield-area school district, who alleged the teachers union was threatened with legal action if it releases the results of a union survey on staff morale and retention, was shut down during public comment by the district superintendent, who claimed the teacher’s comments were illegal. 

Dan Holman, who has taught at Maranacook Community Middle School for more than two decades, told the board of directors Wednesday that the Maranacook Area Schools Association survey, whose responses were critical of school district administration, has been withheld from the board by Superintendent Jay Charette and board Chairperson Shawn Roderick.

Holman got partway through his comments before Charette stopped him.

“This needs to stop now,” Charette said. “We know who you are directing it towards, and this is illegal.” 

Without using names of personnel, Holman had explained the steps the teacher and support staff union used to collect the data and attempts the union made to urge Charette and Roderick to share the results with the board.

Holman was not questioned by any RSU 38 board members Wednesday night, and no further comments were made on the matter. 

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Neither Roderick, nor Rebecca Lambert, board vice chairperson, immediately responded to emails requesting information Friday. 

The union survey, distributed earlier this year, followed two previous attempts by district officials to measure progress in reaching the board’s goals. The union survey employed artificial intelligence to summarize written responses and to keep staff  identities concealed because of fear of retaliation.  

“The results of this union survey were strikingly different from the other two. With specificity, the data shows how much our staff respects and appreciates their coworkers and principals,” Holman said. “However, across all grade levels, concerns were raised about upper administration.” 

The survey, obtained by the Kennebec Journal, asked teachers what is going well and for any concerns over their school and district. 

Teachers said they feel the central administration micromanages them and it doesn’t value professional judgment and that communication from top administrators is unclear and contradictory. Teachers said they feel their voices are not heard by administrators or the school board and that the superintendent is not a good leader and does not prioritize the needs of students and teachers. 

When contacted Friday, Charette said he had no comment and referred to the RSU 38 Policy KE, which describes the district’s policy to address concerns through grievance channels. 

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Many school boards, in Maine and elsewhere, have been tamping down on public comments by prohibiting public commenters from addressing complaints on students or staff in public.  

Asked to clarify what part of Holman’s comments was illegal, Charette declined to comment further.  

Dylan Sirois, co-president of the Maranacook Area Schools Association, declined to comment on Charette’s statement and would not confirm whether the union was threatened with legal action.  

Sirois said the union presidents from each building are working with the union’s executive committee to uphold the union’s mission to represent and support its members during contract negotiations and promote professional attitudes and ethical conduct with their employer relationships and to encourage educators to exercise their rights and to promote the professional interests and concerns of its members. 

RSU 38 encompasses Wayne, Readfield, Manchester and Mount Vernon and employs around 110 teachers across six schools.  

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