The Press Herald has covered the racist incidents that occurred in Regional School Unit 21, and the subsequent controversial actions taken by school administrators.

Last month, RSU 21 Superintendent Kathryn Hawes resigned and accepted a position at the University of Southern Maine. A few weeks later, after hearing complaints, USM Provost Jeannine Uzzi announced she will investigate the process that led to Hawes’ hiring.

Why is the provost investigating only the process? Shouldn’t she also be reviewing whether Hawes should occupy a tenure-track position at USM?

Provost Uzzi also said, “This is something we need to address as quickly as we can.” Again, why? The RSU 21 school board is currently conducting an investigation into the incidents involving an African-American teacher, and the decisions made by the superintendent. One possible determination of that investigation may be that the superintendent was not forthcoming to the school board.

Another conclusion could be that the school board itself fell short by not holding school administrators accountable. In February, at an RSU 21 meeting attended by over 200 people in a school gymnasium, the Press Herald reported that one school board member told the audience he was “embarrassed and ashamed” that he did not ask more questions. “The signs were there and I just didn’t pay attention,” he said.

Now it’s USM officials who may have failed to ask enough questions. RSU 21 and USM are taxpayer funded. If their managers had done better, investigations about deficient processes would be unnecessary.

Uzzi herself was rehired and made provost after bad decisions by former USM leadership hurt the university’s reputation. She is also a classics professor. Edith Hamilton, one of the great 20th-century classicists, wrote, “The Greeks did not only face facts, they had not even a desire to escape from them.” Good advice for USM’s classicist-provost.

Jim Flaherty


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