DIXFIELD — A director of Regional School Unit 56 told officials Tuesday that he’s being denied the right to vote on the annual budget because he refuses to wear a mask at the upcoming meeting at Dirigo High School.

Brad Dyer of Carthage, who attends all school board meetings virtually, said, “(This) leaves me in a very tough position.” The district is saying “‘You won’t wear a mask, we’re denying you the vote,” he said. “And it’s unacceptable, utterly unacceptable. And I think just using the excuse that the lawyers said so is a really easy way out of this.”

The board has scheduled a districtwide meeting to discuss and vote on each article of the proposed $12.97 million budget for 2021-22. It’s set for 6:30 p.m. May 11 for residents of Canton, Carthage, Dixfield and Peru.

Superintendent Pam Doyen said she spoke with the district’s attorney about whether people could vote outside the building or remotely and was told everyone had to be present.

“I have tried to problem-solve this,” she said. “I have not come up with a viable solution at this time. I did ask the attorney if a person came and parked right outside here at the end of the building if they would be considered present and he said no, they need to be in the building, present and accounted for in order to speak or to vote.

“So, I have not been able to come up with anything that legally gets us around the need to be present in order to vote or to speak,” Doyen said. She will ask the attorney if an “overflow room” with access to the outdoors would be acceptable so Dyer and others without masks could participate, she said.

“One of my concerns is making sure that our meeting is legal and it is approved and that we don’t have to go back to this process,” board Chairwoman Barbara Chow said. “So, that is always our goal whether it’s pandemic or not.”

The budget validation vote will be held June 8 at polling station in each town.

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