FARMINGTON — The Mt. Blue School District board announced Tuesday that two members have resigned.

Jesse Sillanpaa of Industry and Craig Stickneyof Chesterville, tendered their resignations from the Regional School Unit 9 board at the beginning of September.

While they both resigned the same week, Stickney explained it’s mere coincidence and their reasons for leaving differ.

In his letter, Stickney cited disagreement with Superintendent Chris Elkington.

“Three months ago, I had high hopes for this board as we seemed to be communicating well, but apparently just a smoke screen,” he wrote. “After a one-on-one conversation (with Elkington) I had high hopes that we might change directions. Unfortunately, it has turned back to the same old way, just a different person in place.”

“With the current climate of schools and our state I can no longer in good conscience keep serving this community,” Sillanpaa wrote.

He specifically took issue with the district’s universal masking mandate, which he had spoken against at a previous board meeting.

“With mask mandates and the inevitable vaccine mandate to follow, I will not subject my family’s livelihood to any lawsuits,” Sillanpaa wrote.

In an interview following the meeting, Sillanpaa said he was referring to a legal threat made against the district because of the universal masking mandate during the Aug. 24 board meeting.

“I will sue you, I will hold you accountable … I will come after you for the very real side effects,” Mark Simonpietri said while speaking against the mandate during public comment at that meeting.

Sillanpaa said, “The way I took it was…what he said was, ‘sue each and every person,’ that was 16 separate lawsuits, not as a whole to be covered under the district.”

“I don’t have the money to fight the legal battle that could have pursued, though I wouldn’t have been funneled into that because I didn’t vote for the masks,” Sillanpaa said.

Sillanpaa and Stickney wrote that they feel the board and Mt. Blue leadership have an “agenda,” though they differed on what it is.

Sillanpaa is at odds with the board over the universal masking mandate and said masking is “teaching compliance rather than safety.”

“I have spent nearly three and a half years mostly in support of decisions made on the board and as of lately I have lost all faith in any democratic process happening in the district,” he wrote. “People claim to take all discussion into consideration and follow suit with an obvious agenda being pushed through by politicians at the state and federal levels.”

Stickney believes this agenda goes back a number of years.

In an interview, Stickney said the Mt. Blue leadership blocked funding for the Success and Innovation Center, which lost funding at the end of the 2019-20 school year, because the board did not approve creating an assistant superintendent position.

“The board specifically stated ‘if we can’t have an assistant superintendent, then you can’t have the student innovation center,'” Stickney said.

“They punished the students for trying to push their own agenda, and I am the bad guy,” he wrote in his letter.

Stickney said there are other reasons for his resignation but he declined to comment further.

Both said they will continue to work with the RSU 9 community and engage with parents and district residents.

“I will be here (at board meetings) on a general basis with other parents speaking up,” Sillanpaa said during the meeting.

He said he will also be “helping people find alternatives in educating their children with a common-sense and meaningful approach.”

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