The Scarborough teachers’ union announced Friday that 67 percent of its members who participated in a recent ballot decided they have “no confidence” in the Board of Education and Superintendent Julie Kukenberger.

The vote, conducted Wednesday, came amid controversy over the recent resignation of Scarborough High School Principal David Creech and a recall effort to unseat three school board members. It included a fresh ballot of high school teachers who had previously voted “no confidence” in Kukenberger.

The districtwide vote was 185-91, with 67 percent voting “no confidence” and 33 percent voting “confidence,” said Justin Stebbins, union president. About one-third of eligible staff members didn’t take part in the vote, he said.

“The majority of professional and support staff at Scarborough schools do not believe Superintendent Julie Kukenberger and the school board are listening to the voices of Scarborough school staff. This has resulted in a fractured community,” Stebbins wrote in a notice posted Friday morning on the Scarborough Education Association’s Facebook page.

Stebbins broke down the teachers’ no-confidence votes as follows: High school, 75-1; middle school, 38-28; Wentworth School, 36-30; and kindergarten through grade 2, 36-32. The high school teachers previously voted 83-1 “no confidence” in Kukenberger.

Stebbins continued, “Under Superintendent Kukenberger and the current Board of Education, educators’ voices have had no substantive impact on the major decisions that are being made in our district.”

Stebbins didn’t list specific decisions. However, the school board recently revised new school start times, set to take effect in August, which were initially approved a year ago but were strongly opposed in recent months by some parents and school staff members.

There also has been significant concern among school staff members over the district’s implementation of proficiency-based learning standards handed down by the Maine Department of Education.

The superintendent and school board “do not respect our professional input and have not been responsive to our appeals for support,” Stebbins wrote. “The practice of consistently dismissing the input of the educational staff will not result in what is truly in the best interest of our students.”

Stebbins concluded: “We ask the administration to join the leadership of this association to co-construct a well-articulated plan to map out how staff voice will be ensured in all decisions made that directly impact the classroom and our profession. We must move forward together to fix this damaged relationship before it has irreversible effects on those that matter most, our children.”

Kukenberger issued the following statement Friday afternoon:

“I look at this information as feedback and an opportunity to improve together as an organization. I feel that I am still building relationships as I work to get to know all 500+ employees. As a superintendent, you have to support everyone in and around the organization, including students, families and staff. Establishing high-quality relationships takes time and effort. This can be particularly challenging in the midst of new initiatives and change.”

School board Chairwoman Donna Beeley didn’t respond to a request for comment Friday.

On Monday, a local political action committee that’s trying to unseat Beeley and two other school board members submitted recall petitions to the Town Clerk’s Office.

The Road to Renewal group turned in nearly 3,300 signatures for each targeted board member, including Cari Lyford and Jodi Shea, seeking their removal from office for reasons of “incompetence.”

However, the group, which has a public Facebook page, has said that its main objective is to force the resignation of Kukenberger and the reinstatement of Creech as principal.

Creech resigned in February, effective June 30, without publicly saying why, although his wife and his lawyer say it was forced by the superintendent. He then tried to withdraw his resignation letter following an outpouring of public support, but Kukenberger and the school board have refused to accept his rescission.

The petition group had 20 days to gather at least 2,622 valid signatures of registered town voters for each board member. The minimum number of signatures equals 25 percent of the local voter turnout in the last gubernatorial election.

Town Clerk Tody Justice said she has 10 days to review the petitions to make sure the group collected enough valid signatures. If the petitions are successful, a recall election to remove the board members from office could be held as early as May.

The validation process wasn’t expected to be completed this week.

Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

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