The Regional School Unit 21 school board voted after an emergency executive session Thursday against an investigation into the hiring of the new interim superintendent, who comes from a Massachusetts school district where she reportedly came under fire for her handling of special education funds.

The 9-3 vote against the investigation came three days after the school board voted unanimously to hire Maryann Perry as interim superintendent for the 2019-2020 school year.

Perry stepped down last spring from her job as superintendent of Marblehead Public Schools in Massachusetts after an audit found she intentionally withheld nearly $600,000 in 2018 special education tuition bills for several months before paying them with 2019 funds, a violation of state finance laws and regulations, according to the Salem News.

The appointment comes after a tumultuous year in which the district covering Arundel, Kennebunk and Kennebunkport dealt with fallout from a former teacher’s complaint alleging she was subject to retaliation for reporting racist incidents at Kennebunk High School.

According to meeting minutes posted on the district’s website Thursday, an emergency executive session was called at 8:30 a.m. in which the board initially discussed an “investigation of complaints against a person or persons.”

After about two hours, the board emerged from executive session and a motion was made to launch an investigation into the hiring of the interim superintendent. It is unclear who would have conducted the investigation.

The motion was made by Rachel Phipps and seconded by Loretta McDonnell. It failed 9-3 with support for the investigation coming from Phipps, McDonnell and Tim Stentiford.

Stentiford, reached by phone Thursday, said it is board policy that all comments to the media go through Chairwoman MaryBeth Luce and said he could not speak on the vote.

Luce did not respond to a phone call or email seeking comment.

Perry, who is scheduled to start full time in the district on Sept. 30, could not be reached for comment.

There was no discussion about the hire by the board at Monday’s meeting, aside from remarks by Luce and Perry.

“MaryAnn brings a wealth of experience to the role of interim superintendent,” Luce said at the meeting. “She leads through example and believes transparency and communication are the keys to a successful school district.”


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