BUXTON — Police removed a woman from the School Administrative District 6 board meeting Monday night after she started shouting “Resign!” to Superintendent Frank Sherburne, who has been under fire for hiring his son despite a nepotism policy and Zachariah Sherburne’s lack of proper state approvals.

Zachariah Sherburne’s hiring came to light after he left SAD 6 in March and was subsequently charged with gross sexual assault, a felony, and sexual abuse of a minor, a misdemeanor. His alleged female victim is a 16-year-old student at Sacopee Valley High School in Hiram, in SAD 55, where Sherburne previously also worked as an educational technician.

“Resign! You don’t belong in the district! You’re rotten! Rotten!” Melissa Bourgeois-Lang shouted at the superintendent. During a break earlier in the meeting, Bourgeois-Lang had told media members gathered outside that she pulled her son out of SAD 6 schools several years ago, alleging he was mistreated by a teacher.

The school board was meeting about the 2016-17 budget, but the start of the budget deliberations were delayed for about a half-hour as two members urged the board to cancel Tuesday’s scheduled executive session to discuss Sherburne, or to hire independent legal counsel instead of using attorneys from Drummond Woodsum, which represents the district. The board voted down both motions with only Daniel Kasprzyk and Robert Deakin supporting them.

The state revealed last week that it never issued any approvals for 23-year-old Zachariah Sherburne before he was hired, even a temporary eight-week card that shows he provided the state with fingerprints for a criminal background check. He also didn’t have authorization to work as an ed tech, officials said.

Frank Sherburne and other SAD 6 officials have refused to answer questions about Zachariah Sherburne’s hiring and his lack of credentials.

The Portland Press Herald has learned that Frank Sherburne issued a district-wide email one day after his son was charged that ended SAD 6’s practice of issuing “extensions” to employees whose state credentials are being verified. The memo said that, starting in August, employees who can’t demonstrate proper paperwork will be put on unpaid leave until their paperwork is in order.

Sherburne wrote that the district had been allowing extensions that led to a backlog.

Zachariah Sherburne’s lack of state approval to work in the schools emerged after his arrest, when the Press Herald asked the state to verify his teaching credentials and spokeswoman Anne Gabbianelli said the Department of Education had not issued approvals of any kind, for any job category, for the superintendent’s son, who was first hired by SAD 55 in November.

Regarding Tuesday’s executive session, the two SAD 6 board members said they wanted independent legal counsel, arguing that one law firm can’t represent all the involved parties – both the board and the superintendent. School boards are responsible for hiring and firing superintendents in Maine.

“I have seen memos that indicate and suggest that there are certain individuals on the board that are potentially implicated in discussions that may ensue,” Kasprzyk said, adding that he was avoiding details because personnel issues are confidential. “I think there is a conflict of interest. I can’t say why.”

The board will meet in executive session to review a report by an attorney at Drummond Woodsum and two board members, looking into the district’s nepotism policy and whether it was violated.

Deakin argued Monday that the public should be allowed to be speak to the board about the issues, but Chairwoman Rebecca Bowley said the public can comment only on items on the agenda.

So far, the public has had no opportunity to comment on the Sherburne situation, since it has not yet been discussed in an open meeting. That frustrated Chris Day, who has two sons in the high school.

“We’d like at some point to have some answers for how this happened. They won’t talk about the elephant in the living room,” Day said, standing in the parking lot after he left the meeting. “They’re sitting there real arrogant like, ‘We don’t have to listen to the things we don’t want to, because we’re the school board.'”

Parent Heather Pike agreed: “There is no forum for the public to speak whatsoever.”

“They’re standing up for the wrong kid. They’re standing up for (Sherburne’s) kid, not all of our kids,” Pike said.

Representatives of SAD 6 have repeatedly refused to answer questions from the Press Herald about Zachariah Sherburne and the district’s hiring protocols.

Before being removed by police, Bourgeois-Lang and her husband, Richard Bourgeois-Lang, held up signs while they sat in the audience. The sign held by Melissa Bourgeois-Lang said: “School board: Who are you protecting, yourselves or our children?”


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