PARIS — The policy committee for Maine School Administrative District 17 recommended during Monday night’s school board committee that proposed gender identity policy ACAAA be tabled indefinitely while it reviews community feedback provided at a Nov. 1 forum and continues consideration of statutes and court decisions in respect to the policy.

The committee, which met Monday ahead of the board’s regular business meeting, debated the best way to proceed once the policy was put on hold according to Robert’s Rules, the parliamentary procedures SAD 17 operates under. It considered postponing the next reading of the policy until Mar. 20 in one scenario and indefinitely under another.

Citing a provision in the rules where an item may be tabled “until after a certain event,” Director Mark Heidmann of Harrison proposed that the committee follow that course. The certain event will be when the rules committee issues its report on the legal aspects and community input of the proposed policy.

The Roberts Rules regarding a proposed policy’s first reading requires that the second reading be done within eight weeks. After that time the board could reject the policy. The direction the committee unanimously agreed to allows the policy to be revisited in the future with a first reading, again.

“We are working in good faith” on the policy, Policy Committee Chair Judy Green declared. “We are working on this. We want to have it for the good of our students, and with taking consideration the community’s concerns.”

The committee agreed that all board members will have until the end of December to individually submit questions to Superintendent Heather Manchester for legal research and scheduled its next meeting for Jan. 9.


Emma DayBranch of Norway addresses Oxford Hills’ school board in support of the district’s proposed student gender identity policy. The school board later voted to table the policy indefinitely.

During the business meeting Green explained to the board how the committee she chairs plans to approach a review of the gender identity policy. But before any recommendations could be made, Director Bob Jewell of Paris interrupted Green.

“Madam Chair, I would like to move that we postpone the policy indefinitely,” he said, echoing what had been discussed and decided during the policy committee meeting even though he had not been in attendance.

Board Chair Natalie Andrews of West Paris  refused to allow Jewell to speak. “I don’t believe the policy committee has finished their recommendation. I will wait until the policy committee finishes their recommendation.”

Green then continued her remarks and then ask Heidmann to communicate their recommendation.

“Speaking for the policy committee,” Heidmann said. “We recommend to postpone the motion be postponed indefinitely.”

“I will second that,” Jewell said, again interrupting. “So moved. So moved.”


Andrews clarified that Director Lew Williams of Hebron had seconded the motion.

Heidmann answered some questions from other board members on the scope of reviewing the policy, including that the next time it is introduced to the board it will once again be for a first reading.

“I’ve got Robert’s Rules right here,” Jewell said. “It’s talking about postponing indefinitely. And it very clearly says ‘the object of this motion is not to postpone but to reject the main motion without incurring the risk of a direct vote and it is made only by the enemies of the main motion when they are in doubt of there being a majority.”

“That’s a subsection of the portion of Robert’s Rules that discusses a motion to postpone indefinitely,” Heidmann corrected him. “It says that the motion to postpone indefinitely can’t be used for that by the opponents of the motion. But it is not inherent in the motion that the motion will die. It is not a part of the motion per se.

“If you read the next section of Robert’s Rules you’ll see that other choice is explained.”

“And again, I am asking that people give us time to get this right,” Green added. “And to not describe anybody as an enemy. We’re working together on this. It is what the board does. It’s the pledge that we all took when we became board members. That we would work together for the good of the school district.”


When Andrews called for a vote on the motion directors voted unanimously to postpone it indefinitely.

Koren Roy of Norway prayed and sang for three minutes during SAD 17 school board meeting during the public comment period. Nicole Carter / Advertiser Democrat

During the meeting 13 community members addressed the board about ACAAA Gender Identity Policy, including one person who used his three minutes of time to pray and sing.

One person, an Oxford Hills graduate who identifies as non-binary, spoke about how difficult it was them them to navigate their own process of coming to terms with their gender as a student at a time when there was no guidance or policy at school, even though they had strong family support at home.

During her public comment time, Katey Branch of Paris informed the board that 20% or more of high school students define themselves as LGBTQIA+, much more than most might imagine. She admonished directors that those students are watching and listening to ideology publicly asserted as fact, as they are described as having mental health disorders and as others are weaponizing the gender identity policy against them.

“They are watching school board members organize, speak out and politicize a policy in the middle of being developed,” she said. “People being recalled before this board for doing their job … I don’t think it is appropriate, professional or responsible for school board members to be actively organizing against the school board’s business and other school board members. I am deeply concerned that a known school board agitator showed up with people here at the emergency board meeting to support the recall.

“This is about our community, our kids. It is not about politics.”


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