KENNEBUNK – The Regional School Unit 21 School Board voted late Monday to proceed with legal action as it pertains to the attempted recall of two Kennebunk board members that was initiated by a group of citizens.

Without comment, the board unanimously voted to “authorize Russell Pierce, Jr. of Norman, Hanson and DeTroy to pursue legal action to enjoin the town of Kennebunk recall process currently underway and clarify recall procedures for Regional School Unit 21.”

In a 10-page opinion dated Dec. 22, Pierce said that board members are not elected municipal officials and therefore not governed by recall provisions in the Kennebunk Town Charter. Pierce noted that state statutes governing regional school units do not contain recall provisions.

According to Pierce, school board members of RSU 21 are “elected directors of a separate body politic,” with election terms and vacancies determined by specifics outlined in Maine Statute 20-A.

“A central premise of my opinion is that the provisions of Title 20-A governing vacancies in regional school unit boards do not include “recall” as a basis for the creation of a vacancy, in direct contrast to the general statute governing vacancy in municipal office found in Title 30-A.” Pierce wrote.

Pierce said school board directors are elected officials of the regional school unit, not of the municipality, and pointed out that Kennebunk’s charter does not express that its general recall provisions apply to school board directors.


Norman Archer, leader of a group of residents that formally initiated the recall action against RSU 21 School Board Chair Art LeBlanc and member Tim Stentiford, said the school board’s decision “must not stand.”

“The RSU made a critical – perhaps historical – decision last night by voting unanimously to approve (the) motion to enjoin the Town of Kennebunk to stop the recall on the grounds that RSU directors cannot be recalled,” Archer said in an email. “If the people of Kennebunk, Kennebunkport and Arundel send roughly 75 percent of their local tax dollars to support the school district, but have no ability to hold the board’s leadership into account, that’s the very definition of taxation without representation and must not stand. “

Pierce, the school board attorney, said the vote by the RSU 21 board on Monday means he will seek an injunction against the town of Kennebunk regarding the recall process.

Archer formally initiated the recall on Nov. 29. The group cited an array of alleged missteps involving contract negotiations, the manner in which petitioners believed parents and teachers were treated by the board, administrative spending and more. The group turned in about 702 signatures on each petition to Town Clerk Merton Brown on Dec. 31, a day later than the original due date. A total of 665 signatures were required – 10 percent of the number of voters who cast ballots in the last gubernatorial election- in the 30-day period that commenced Nov. 29 to trigger a recall election under the Kennebunk Charter.

Brown had calculated that the signatures would be due by the close of business on Dec. 30, but the date was called into question by Archer.

“I argued that we had until the 31st based on the day counting per state law,” said Archer in an email.

Brown on Monday said he consulted with Town Attorney Natalie Burns, who in turn consulted the Town Charter, and that he was then told by Burns to extend the deadline to Dec. 31.

Brown was verifying petition signatures on Monday and did not have an estimate of when the process would be complete. The charter allows five days. It is unclear if the school board’s vote would immediately halt that process.

RSU 21 board policy, which outlines the process of electing school board members and filling school board vacancies, does not address recall. Select board members in Kennebunk and Arundel are the process filling board seats after a director in each  town resigned.

Comments are not available on this story.