POLAND — The top two RSU 16 school officials have been relieved of duty, but as of Tuesday night no reason was made public.

A school board member said Superintendent Dennis Duquette and Business Manager Rick Kusturin have been placed on leave. However, School Board Chairwoman Mary Ella Jones said that because it’s a personnel matter, she was not free to comment on the circumstances.

Attempts to reach Duquette and Kusturin were not successful.

Duquette has been superintendent since 2007. As word about the suspension began to circulate, there was more shock and confusion than answers.

Dave Griffiths, who served 11 years on the school board and two years as chairman before stepping down in September, said he always found Duquette completely committed to the schools and the students he served. He had not heard about the situation nor could he speculate on what might have led to it.

“I served with three superintendents and Dennis was by far the best of them,” Griffiths said. “Very professional, student oriented, a pleasure to work with.”

As superintendent, Duquette oversees schools in Poland, Minot and Mechanic Falls. Before he was hired in January 2007, he was principal of a middle school in Gorham.

“When I was on the school board, everyone was happy with him,” Griffiths said. “We didn’t always agree on budget stuff, but there was never any question about his integrity or his character.”

Jones said she and other board members plan to discuss the matter with the school system’s lawyer before commenting further.

[email protected]