Spruce Mountain Middle School teacher Julie Taylor speaks to the Regional School Unit 73 board of directors Thursday about a director’s post on a school Facebook page in response to a post by a member of the Blue Crew FIRST Robotics team at Spruce Mountain High School. The original post suggested the team celebrate Pride Month, she said, but the words in the board member’s response “discriminate against some of the very kids you are here to support,” she said. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

JAY — Directors of Regional School Unit 73 plan a closed-door meeting with their attorney Aug. 22 regarding a director’s recent controversial post on a school Facebook page.

Superintendent Scott Albert said in an email Monday that they plan to discuss policy in general and the board’s role in what procedures to follow.

The decision at Thursday night’s meeting to hold an executive session was prompted after a director posted a comment in response to one by a member of the Blue Crew FIRST Robotics team at Spruce Mountain High School suggesting the team celebrate Pride Month.

According to Blue Crew mentor Rob Taylor, the director who posted the comment was recently appointed to the board. There are only two: Holly Morris and Andrew Sylvester, both of Livermore, who previously served on the board.

Both were in attendance, though neither spoke on this issue.

“Maintaining a strong social media presence in the FIRST Robotics Competition program is essential and the Blue Crew is student-led, with team members making almost all decisions,” Taylor told directors. “Not only is FIRST a highly inclusive organization, the Blue Crew is a model of inclusivity.”


At a recent competition, a team member made Facebook posts about how the team was doing, Taylor said. “The student made a post that said ‘Let’s celebrate Pride Month’ inspired by FIRST Robotics’ celebration of the occasion. An RSU 73 school board member replied, ‘What are we celebrating, their arrogance?’

“Posts of this kind on a social media page of a school activity show contempt for the students that you have been appointed to support,” Taylor said. “This is a targeted statement by a public official directed at a school program and its participants.”

Richard Wilde, a Blue Crew mentor from Mt. Blue High School in Farmington, and Taylor notified their respective superintendents, who sent a letter to the board member.

“I then received a letter from the board member that showed a lack of understanding of what they had done,” Taylor said. “It included the non-apology statement of, ‘I would like to apologize IF I hurt anyone’s feelings.’

“There is no remorse in that statement,” Taylor said.

“Your letter to the team said Pride is a global movement that pushes an agenda,” he said Thursday addressing the director responsible for the post. “All global movements have agendas and the Pride agenda is one of acceptance and inclusivity. It is bullying as defined in state law and out of compliance with the RSU 73 school board Code of Ethics. If you can’t support all of our students … perhaps it is time to reconsider whether serving as a school board member is a calling for you.”


Spruce Mountain Middle School teacher Julie Taylor said, “At the Feb. 29 meeting addressing the banning of an LGBTQ+ book, the board member remarked and I quote, ‘Make no mistake there are two genders. These two genders are given to us by God. Anyone that tries to contradict that is a liar.'”

The quote was by Morris at the time an appeal of the book “Rick” was being considered. Morris was one of five directors opposed to allowing the book to remain in the elementary school library.

“While someone may have a personal opinion about a matter, when that same person is a leader in a school district, their words have ramifications,” Julie Taylor said. “The board member’s words discriminate against some of the very kids you are here to support.”

Jubilee Bailey, a parent of a Blue Crew alumnus, said a highlight of her daughter’s time at the high school was her involvement in FIRST. “Today I want to focus on the FIRST core value of inclusion: We respect each other and embrace our differences,” she said.

Some directors have been involved with robotics and know how magical the competitions are, Bailey said. “There’s no name calling, no bullying, no slurs and no homophobia. Everyone is welcomed and valued. I am asking the board to follow the team’s example that hate has no home here.”

“There are only so many opportunities like robotics that operate year-round,” Mason Labonte, assistant team captain and social media manager for the Blue Crew, said. “When you spend so much time with people you learn to accept them no matter who they are. A majority of our team consists of members and allies of the LGBTQ+ community. As June is recognized as a national month of celebration, the team wanted to celebrate this for the second year in a row. When the comment was made on the post, team members were upset and felt it important to make a statement.”


“All we wanted to do was to continue to share, as FIRST does, the meaning and importance of pride,” team member Violet Bellerose said. “All we were doing was being inclusive and showing that we care. This comment that we received shouldn’t have been made public. As a student on this team and a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I should be able to go out and do what I want to do, not risk having things like this happen.”

Resident Jamie Carden-Leventhal of Jay said the first three items in the school board policy manual address nondiscrimination, equal opportunity and harassment/sexual harassment. “School board members must be exemplary, not judgmental, no matter what their personal feelings are,” she said. “Those words as written were very hurtful, discouraging and completely inappropriate.”

Director Roger Moulton of Livermore Falls condemned the action. “I hope we never have to deal with something like that again,” he said.

Gary McGrane of Jay suggested the board develop an ethics policy.

“When a board member posts on a school-run Facebook page, their views are not the views of the entire board,” Chairman  Bob Staples said.

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