May 17, 2013

Westbrook buzzing over indicted school official

Suzanne Joyce of Westbrook says she doesn't know the details of the charge against her.

By Scott Dolan sdolan@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

and David Hench dhench@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

In this 2005 file photo, Suzanne Joyce.

"We're going to eventually be the jurors and we're going to judge Sue, whether it's positive or negative," Violette said.

Joyce's role on the committee will not be affected immediately, he said, but if she is convicted, the committee may have to decide whether she is disqualified from serving.

"The problem is, an indictment came down, but we don't know what the DA is indicting her for," Violette said. "Did she do something, try to put duress on a school employee? We just don't know."

Violette said committee members were stunned by the accusations.

"You have a really, really good person with a heart of gold going through a nightmare," said Violette, who served on the City Council alongside Joyce for several years before they moved to the School Committee. "I wish the district attorney would release information so people could move on."

Violette said he does not know all the details of the investigation of Gilman.

"We basically weren't told about the situation and how things were reported. ... The result was Gilman resigned," he said.

Residents' response to Joyce's indictment was mixed on Thursday.

Rhianna Jacobs said it didn't change her impression of Joyce. "She's a phenomenal woman," she said. "She's always fighting for the kids."

Janice Jensen said, "She's really a nice person," but the charge makes her "a little suspicious."

Several parents said the charge alone wouldn't interfere with Joyce's ability to function as a School Committee member. "I have no problem with it," said Annette Richards.

City Councilor Michael Foley said he wanted to contact Joyce but decided to wait since she was probably overwhelmed by other calls from supporters.

"I was stunned and shocked," Foley said. "She does a lot for the community. I have at times told her she does too much."

Foley said Joyce contributes to Westbrook's Halloween on Main Street event, the annual Christmas tree lighting, Little League and Westbrook Baseball Boosters, and she served with him on the City Council before running for School Committee.

"She's a significant contributor to the community," he said.

Foley said he went to high school with Keirstead and Gilman and remembers both as committed students and athletes.

"The rumors fly in Westbrook, but I haven't heard," he said, when asked about details behind the indictments. "The City Council isn't involved in the operations of the School Department. We're not up to speed on that. We have enough of our own business."

School Committee members Alex Stone, Ed Symbol and Suzanne Salisbury declined to comment on the situation. Mayor Colleen Hilton did not return a telephone message, nor did School Committee members Veronica Bates and Mary Hall. 

Scott Dolan can be contacted at 791-6304 or at:

sdolan@pressherald.com 

David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

dhench@pressherald.com

 

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