An informal meeting between the Westbrook school superintendent and four members of the School Committee may have constitued an illegal meeting under Maine law.

The meeting took place following the City Council meeting on April 11. At that meeting, Mayor Bruce Chuluda presented his proposed city budget to the council, and School Superintendent Stan Sawyer followed with a short presentation regarding the proposed school budget.

Following the meeting, Sawyer, who was not available for comment for this story, asked the School Committee members who were present at the City Council meeting to get together briefly, according to School Committee members who were present that night.

The meeting included Sawyer, School Committee Chairman Colleen Hilton and School Committee members Tim Crellin, Don Perkins and Cheryl Roma. It took place in a classroom near the City Council chambers at Westbrook High School.

Crellin said Sawyer wanted to meet with the School Committee members to discuss budget strategies and how best to deal with the mayor’s call for a flat-funded budget.

Hilton said that while Sawyer did meet with the School Committee members outside of a public meeting, she said nothing improper took place. Hilton said the discussion did not involve any specific points about the budget.


“He just wanted to remind us about (the next School Committee meeting),” she said. “We did not have a meeting.”

Maine law states that public notice must be given for all meetings of governmental bodies such as the School Committee. “This notice shall be given in ample time to allow public attendance and shall be disseminated in a manner reasonably calculated to notify the general public in the jurisdiction served,” the law states.

Amy Serino of Prince, Lobel, Glovsky and Tye, the Boston-based law firm that runs the New England Press Association’s media law hotline, said that according to law any gathering, even an informal one, at which a quorum is present constitutes a meeting, and should be held in public. In the case of Westbrook, four of the seven members would constitute a quorum. Serino said that if in fact, School Committee business was discussed, the meeting should have been held in public.

When reached on his cell phone, Perkins said that his present work schedule did not permit him the time to discuss the matter at present, he referred all calls regarding School Committee business to Hilton, saying he felt that the committee chairman would be the proper one to discuss committee business.

Roma did not return a call seeking comment for this story.

Hilton said she did not feel that the members did anything improper in holding an informal discussion with Sawyer, and added nothing was done to hide the meeting from anyone who happened to be in the building that evening.

“The door was open,” she said. “Anyone could walk in.”

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