Regional School Unit 10 Director Abbey Rice of Rumford, second from left, addresses the board Monday night at Buckfield Junior-Senior High School. From left are Director Jennifer Adams of Sumner, Rice, Administrative Assistant Peggy Therriault, Superintendent Deb Alden, board Chairman Greg Buccina and Director Jerry Wiley. Marianne Hutchinson/Rumford Falls Times

BUCKFIELD —  A parent of two Regional School Unit 10 students told directors Monday night that “racially insensitive” statements made at a recent board meeting need to be rejected as harmful and unacceptable.

Allison Long addressed the board during public comments at the meeting at Buckfield Junior-Senior High School. She referred to the Oct. 25 meeting when Mountain Valley High School interim Principal Tom Danylik and Rumford Elementary School Principal Jill Bartash gave an overview of the district’s Equity Committee whose mission is to create and maintain a safe space for all students, family and staff.

“We’re committed to elevating marginalized voices in order to grow and learn, and to become an anti-racist and anti-biased” community, Bartash said.

At that recent meeting, Director Michelle Casey of Buckfield asked Danylik if students were being taught how to deal with racist or other negative comments.

“I don’t want to say build a thick skin but be able to deal with it because once you leave the school setting, you know, you kind of need something . . .” because “someone is not always going be there for you, or support you every minute so I mean, is there a process to teach these kids how to deal with things like this?”

Addressing directors Monday, Long said, “We need to build a better world where these marginalizing statements are rejected as harmful and unacceptable. I appreciate your time today and your continued efforts toward equity at RSU 10 and your commitment to do better.”

Casey responded Monday to criticism of her Oct. 25 statements, saying, “All I did was ask for what kind of coping skills are these kids learning. I’m not saying it’s OK for people to pick on people, or bully or say anything mean.

“But the reality is there are kids out there that are still going to say things and when someone is not there for you to run to . . . ” is the district “teaching these kids to cope with things, where I mean, we used to say ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.’ So that’s all I was pointing out.”

In other business…

In other business, directors voted 7-2 that Mountain Valley Middle School teacher James Dorr not receive a retirement stipend of $6,000.

Dorr taught in the district for 40 years before giving his notice for retirement in July and was rehired this fall when his former job was posted.

By retiring, Dorr will be allowed to collect his retirement benefits from the Maine State Public Employees Retirement System and receive his salary while working, Superintendent Deb Alden said Tuesday.

Directors voting to allow Dorr to receive the $6,000 stipend were Chad Culleton of Hartford and Jennifer Adams of Sumner.

Voting against were Jerry Wiley and Michele Casey, both of Buckfield, Gail Parent of Hanover, Bonnie Child and Peter DeFilipp, both of Mexico, and Abbey Rice and Greg Buccina, both of Rumford.

Directors Janet Brennick of Mexico, Justeen LaPointe of Roxbury, and Daniel Hodge and Bill Hobson, both of Rumford were absent.

Dorr said Monday that he asked for his retirement stipend in July, rather than by his contract’s March 15 deadline, because of personal issues. He said his “30 to 40 years of dedicated work for the school” and turning in over 36,000 hours of sick time should be considered.

Alden told directors that contracts require employees to give notice of their retirement by March 15 for budgetary reasons and to allow for advertising the position.

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