DIXFIELD — The Regional School Unit 56 board of directors voted Tuesday to declare a Peru director’s seat vacant due to more than three unexcused absences.

Director Konstantin Aslanidi “has not actually been here for four consecutive meetings with no excuses, no contact, nothing,” Chairwoman Barbara Chow of Dixfield said at their meeting at Dirigo High School. The board sent a letter to Aslanidi, Chow said, but they have not received any response.

Aslanidi was appointed in January 2020 and his term was due to end June 30, 2023.

Chow noted the situation was a first for her as a director and by policy the board can declare the seat vacant. Peru officials will be asked to fill the position, she said.

Those interested in serving as a director should notify Peru officials who will decide whether to appoint someone now or wait until elections in November, Chow said.

“Please, get out and let them know you want to participate,” Director Angela Cushman of Peru said.

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In other business, Chow was reelected chairman and Bruce Ross of Dixfield was reelected vice chairman .

Directors signed up for committees, including policy, finance and buildings and grounds.

In other business, the board approved its written response to its 7-2 vote Aug. 9 to remove the book “Gender Queer: A Memoir” from the Dirigo High School library.

The 2019 publication, “Gender Queer: A Memoir,” written and illustrated by Maia Kobabe, recounts Kobabe’s journey from adolescence to adulthood and the author’s exploration of gender identity and sexuality, according to multiple online sources.

committee created by RSU 56 officials to review the book in June said at the time that it was valuable for students. Directors decided to keep it in the library.

That decision prompted written appeals from Bonnie McKenna, a Peru mother with a daughter in elementary school and a senior at the high school; Sarah Cole, a Peru mother of three who attend Dirigo Elementary School in Peru; and Elizabeth Kelly of Dixfield, who became a director July 1.

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Their appeals were heard by the board June 28.

In part, the letter reads, “On August 9, 2022, the RSU 56 School Board held a special meeting to discuss the appeal of the committee’s decision, and voted to overturn the recommendation of the review committee and remove ‘Gender Queer’ from the Dirigo High School Library due to the graphic depictions (pictures) of sexual acts in the book.”

In another matter, Business Manager Mary Dailey said during her administrator’s report that she and Kenny Robbins, the director of buildings, grounds and transportation, have applied to the federal Environmental Protection Agency to be entered in a lottery to receive funds to purchase two electric school buses.

“If RSU 56 is selected, there’ll be also funds available for a charging station, but probably we won’t get enough to completely pay for the charging station,” Dailey said.

The district will be notified in October if it has been selected to receive funding and will have until October 2024 to purchase one or two buses, she said. The district will also have the option to refuse the money even if it is selected.

Robbins will report further information about the electric school buses at the next board meeting Sept. 13 at Dirigo High School, Dailey said.


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