PARIS — The uproar on the proposed gender identity policy at Maine School Administrative School District 17 spilled over Monday into the Select Board meeting when a group of residents submitted petitions to recall two members of the MSAD 17 board of directors.

On the recommendation of their legal counsel, selectmen took no immediate action.

Two petitions, signed by nearly 700 residents, seeking to recall two of the town’s four school board members, Julia Lester and Sarah Otterson, for their support of the gender identity policy currently being considered by the MSAD 17 board. The policy passed its first reading by an 11-7 vote. The second and final vote is scheduled for early December.

According to opponents, the policy would allow the school to withhold information such as a student’s gender identity and preferences, such as changing their pronoun or name in school, keeping it confidential from parents when the student requests it.

One member of the audience said the opposition is not about being transphobic, it’s about parental rights. The term parental rights was repeated by several speakers who complained about secrecy when it comes to their children and legal overreach.

The group wanted the Select Board to act quickly on the recall petition to remove the two Paris directors on the MSAD 17 board who supported the policy during the first reading.


Chairman Christopher Summers read a memo from town attorney Philip Saucier from the law firm Bernstein and Shur in Portland.

“This is not clear to me that a municipal ordinance can apply to school board members,” Saucier wrote. He said he needed more time to research and wanted to consult with the school district’s attorney on the matter.

The board was unanimous in saying they needed to listen to their attorney to make sure the recall ordinance covered school board members and just elected town employees.

“I think our lawyer is telling us to put the brakes on,” Selectman Scott McElravy said.

In addition to approving the petitions, some residents asked the board to get involved by sharing their disapproval with the gender identity policy with members of the school district. The board also took no action on the request at this time.

Summers noted that a vote to accept the petitions would not need to wait until the board’s next meeting on Nov. 28. The board only needs 24 hours to call an emergency meeting.

In other business, selectmen approved a new fee schedule, including new fees for marijuana business licenses, following the town’s recent passage of a marijuana ordinance. There is an initial application fee of $500, with license fees, charged annually, costing between $300 and $1,500, depending on if the business is a store, cultivation center or nursery.

A proposal to add the requirement for an electrical inspection by a master electrician to the town’s building code ordinance failed.

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: