March 8, 2013

Baxter Academy's top exec ousted by board

Mismanagement of the charter school is cited, but John Jaques says it’s a power play by a large donor

By Noel K. Gallagher ngallagher@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 2)

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John Jaques, founder of the Baxter Academy for Technology and Science, has been removed as executive director of the fledgling charter school by the school's board of directors. Photographed on Thursday, March 7, 2013.

Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

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The Maine Charter School Commission gave its latest approval to Baxter Academy this week, and knew that Jaques would not be the director, Lapoint said Thursday.

She said the commissioners supported the board and expected the school to open in September as planned.

But they didn't realize that Jaques's removal was tied to a potential donation, she said Thursday. The school still needs further approval by the commission before it can open, she noted.

Lapoint said Baxter Academy's board and the commission recognized that Jaques was the "visionary" but he wasn't the person the board wanted to manage the school.

"I'm sure John's heart and soul was in the project from day one, but people who are visionaries do not necessarily make good management people," Lapoint said. "That is what we understand is the difference of opinion."

The questions about the line of credit are more troubling to the commission, particularly since it was given a letter from SunTrust saying a $500,000 line of credit was available.

"We accepted that letter as bona fide. It never dawned on us to say we need to see a copy of that specific line of credit," Lapoint said Thursday. "We thought the letter from the bank vice president was good enough."

Crean Davis, the board's vice chairwoman, said Jaques's departure will be good in the long run.

"The disruption is leading us to a much stronger position. It's going to be a much stronger financial position," she said.

Meg Kursturin, whose daughter has applied to attend Baxter Academy, said she expects the board to explain to parents what happened.

"I think I would have to question why one donor could affect someone being asked to leave," she said.

That said, she wouldn't necessarily remove her daughter from consideration. "I'd like to get more information from the board."

Noel K. Gallagher can be contacted at 791-6387 or at:

ngallagher@pressherald.com

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