KENNEBUNK – The first step in the process that could lead to a recall election of two Kennebunk Regional School Unit 21 directors – board chair Arthur LeBlanc and member Timothy Stentiford – came Monday when former board member Norman Archer submitted affidavits outlining why he and others believe it is time for the directors to be removed.

The documents, submitted to Town Clerk Merton Brown at 3:34 p.m. Monday. Nov. 29,  and signed by 30 people, claim a loss of confidence in LeBlanc and Stentiford’s abilities to perform the duties and responsibilities of the office.

The affidavit alleges LeBlanc’s “role in negotiating the most recent teacher’s contract, and its impact on staff attrition, the failure to seat a curriculum committee, and a failure in executive leadership by allowing teachers, parents and community members to be bullied and admonished in public meetings,” is a cause for recall.

The affidavit goes on to say that 43 teachers and educational technicians, and several administrators have left the district.

Art LeBlanc is the chair of the RSU21 school board and the target of a recall effort, along with another school board member, Tim Stentiford. Gregory Rec Photo/Portland Press Herald

The affidavit claims board meetings under LeBlanc’s leadership “are contentious, last for hours, and rarely address simple questions from the public.”

The affidavit noted there has been no curriculum committee since 2017.

The affidavit naming Stentiford is similar. It further alleges “his personal contribution to the board’s escalated administrative spending” has caused a loss of confidence in his abilities as an RSU 21 director. The affidavit alleges the amount spent in the RSU 21 business office and on human resources functions has increased from $402,000 in 2019 to $722,000 through November.

It claims the district has taken in an estimated $1.4 million over and above the state allotment, and that disposition of the funds should have been brought to Kennebunk voters for approval.

The RSU 21 Board of Directors, who were expecting the affidavits to be filed, issued a statement late last week, ahead of the submission.

“This recall based on the claim of a lack of support for teachers is unfounded as the three-year teacher’s contract signed in June 2021, completed well before the contract even expired, had over 90 percent approval from the Kennebunk, Arundel, Kennebunkport Education Association,” the board’s statement says, in part.

The statement notes that in the past 16 months, there have been 18 teacher resignations and seven retirements.

“One of those resignations was for a hired teacher who never started in the district, three others resigned and returned as part-time instructors or substitute teachers bringing the total down to 14 resignations during the 16-month period,” the statement said.

RSU 21 currently has no vacant teaching positions.

The statement notes RSU 21’s teacher turnover is 5.8 percent, measured from August 2020, when Superintendent Terri Cooper joined the district, and is well below the 7 to 12 percent Maine average.

LeBlanc told the Portland Press Herald there are 30 educational technician vacancies, which he said is a concern for the board and superintendent.

As to the next steps, Brown said he planned to verify the signatures on Tuesday, Nov. 30. If the required number of qualified voters – 25 have signed the affidavits, then he will issue petitions. Those seeking the recall would be required to gather 669 signatures of registered Kennebunk voters, which is 10 percent of the number of voters who cast ballots in the last gubernatorial election. The signature-gatherers have 30 days to complete that task. If they do, and the signatures are verified, following a five-day allowance for legal challenges, the select board would notify the elected officials in question, according to the town charter.

If they do not resign within five days, a recall election is called. The election would be no less than 50 days and no more than 60 days after certification by the town clerk, unless there is an election already scheduled  within 75 days – and if so, the select board may postpone the recall until that time. According to the charter, If the subjects of the petition request, the select board must make provisions for a public hearing, not less than seven days prior to the election.

LeBlanc, who has served previously on the board, was most recently elected in 2020. His term expires in 2023. Stentiford’s term expires in June.

Municipal clerks in Arundel and Kennebunkport say they have received calls from people asking about the recall process.

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