The Regional School Unit 21 board will meet Monday night in Kennebunk to discuss for the first time racist incidents reported in recent Maine Sunday Telegram/Portland Press Herald stories.

The meeting originally was scheduled to take place behind closed doors but was changed to allow part of the session to be public to discuss the school incidents.

The board will meet at 7 p.m. at Kennebunk Elementary School to hear a presentation by Superintendent Kathryn Hawes and the district’s lawyers from Drummond Woodsum, who are scheduled to discuss “timeline and facts related to events described in Portland Press Herald articles,” according to the agenda.

The meeting agenda refers to reports in the newspapers this month of a race-based complaint filed with the Maine Human Rights Commission by former Kennebunk High School social studies teacher Rosa Slack over a March 2016 incident, when a student came into her classroom with a Confederate flag draped over his shoulders. He was later suspended, along with another student who videotaped Slack’s reaction and put it on social media. Slack said the district retaliated against her a year later in a job review after she accused it of failing to fully address racist incidents at the school.

The report also cited other racist incidents in Kennebunk schools.

Monday night’s meeting was originally set to be in executive session as part of the school board’s regular governance/assessment process and was scheduled before the newspaper stories were published, Emily Kahn, the board’s chairwoman, said in an email Sunday.


“The articles raised significant factual questions for several board members, myself included, and also made clear that the board needed to focus on the issues of diversity and inclusion within the district,” Kahn said.

Monday’s presentation by Hawes and the lawyers will be followed by questions from the 14-member board, who represent the district’s towns of Kennebunk, Kennebunkport and Arundel. The board also includes two nonvoting students.

The board is then scheduled to go into executive session, followed by a public session to discuss and approve a board statement regarding its next steps, the agenda states.

The agenda notes that “to the extent facts or issues raised are still the subject of active litigation, they cannot be discussed in public session and will be addressed in the executive session portion of the meeting.”

Kahn said the meeting will be the first time the board has been able to meet since the newspaper articles were published and its focus is to ensure that members have the relevant facts and can begin the process of developing an action plan.

She said in order for the board to accomplish this, the public will not be allowed to speak Monday night.

“However, there will be ample opportunity for public comment and questions going forward, as this meeting is the first step in what I expect will be a sustained and concerted effort by the district and the community to address issues and policies on diversity and inclusion,” she said.

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