The Gorham School Committee Chairperson will recuse herself from a June 22 hearing regarding the superintendent’s response to a parent’s complaint.

Chairperson Anne Schools’ recusal comes after another email surfaced in a controversy that has been building over the past weeks.

Parent Eric Lane says  Superintendent Heather Perry is discriminating against him because of his Christian values. He claims Perry wants to thwart his efforts to remove gender identity posters in the middle school and remove the book “All Boys Aren’t Blue” from the high school.

Gorham Superintendent Heather Perry

In a March 17 email from Perry to Schools regarding Lane’s effort to remove the book, Perry writes: “E.L. is a parent that will take it all the way through – so be prepared for this to land in the SC’s lap. We’ll do our best to divert and stall but this parent wants an audience and there is nothing in our policies that will prevent that from occurring.”

The email was provided recently to the American Journal by Lane.

Lane on June 7  emailed Schools, stating he was concerned about her role in an upcoming closed-door hearing regarding his complaint. That hearing is scheduled for June 22.


Lane wrote he is suspicious that Schools might have the “same agenda and/or intentions as Heather in diverting and stalling.”

“Is there a policy in place to ensure the public receives due justice if the superintendent and a member of the school committee were to act immorally and/or illegally in their public duties?” Lane wrote.

Schools responded: “Although I have acted, and will continue to act, with the upmost respect and impartiality in all my duties as Chair, I recognize your concern, and feel it is important that you are confident in this process.”

Schools said she would hand the gavel over to Vice Chairperson Darryl Wright  when Lane’s complaint is heard and

Meanwhile, Perry was expected to speak publicly on the controversy for the first time at a School Committee meeting Wednesday, after the American Journal’s deadline. When reached for comment Tuesday, Perry said:  “I will be making my comments in public at the meeting on Wednesday night.”

Perry had considerable support from several community members, teachers, and a church pastor during a packed a School Committee meeting May 25.


The School Committee will meet in executive session to conduct a planned evaluation of the superintendent during its 7 p.m. meeting at the municipal center.

Since Lane’s complaints become public, two other complaints have been filed against Perry.

The three complaints are directed at Perry’s email April 20 to staff members regarding Lane’s request that gender identity posters be removed from the middle school or that the school post an opposing view. The “Gender 101” posters list terminology that includes cisgender, transgender and nonbinary.

“We need to use as many rungs in the ladder as possible to slow the process down to ensure this parent has to work a little on their end as well,” Perry wrote.

Seven recipients of that email served on a review committee that recommended on April 26 that Perry deny Lane’s request. Perry informed Lane in an email on April 26 of the denial.

After Lane received the April 20 email through a Freedom of Access request, he filed a claim of “1st Amendment discrimination against Superintendent Perry and Gorham schools.” He has called for Perry’s dismissal and an investigation of staff members who received the April 20 email.


Perry later apologized to Lane in an email for her “poor choice of words” in the April 20 email to staff members.

Parent Andrew LaPlaca filed a complaint with Perry about her response to Lane and her apology to him.

After that meeting with LaPlaca May 25, Perry wrote to LaPlaca to state that she will improve communication, including advocating for forums for parents to better understand the curriculum; the posting of FOAA requests on the School Department’s website; and a community curriculum speaking tour. She said she will “send strong, consistent messaging to staff and model for staff how to email less and talk more.”

LaPlaca is appealing his complaint to the School Committee.

“While I find Heather’s resolutions as a step in the right direction, I do not believe that she is acknowledging the root of the problem,” LaPlaca says in his written complaint to Schools. “Rather it seems she continues to say it was just words, or a poor choice of words and that she will be more careful in the future.”

“The root of this problem is not only the words but rather the actions associated with them and based on the response I received from Heather, I do not feel that she is remorseful for the actions that she has taken. It would appear she is hung up on the language used rather than the actions that she took and directed Gorham staff to take,” LaPlaca wrote to Schools.


LaPlaca expects to meet with the School Committee about his formal complaint in August.

Jim Means, grandfather of a Gorham student, filed complaints about Perry’s April 20 email and “All Boys Aren’t Blue” book, which he called “blatantly pornographic and incestuous.”

School Library Journal, however, has called the memoir “a contemporary hallmark of the blossoming genre. Johnson anchors the text with encouragement and realistic guidance for queer Black youth.”

The book Means is already being challenged with a decision to be rendered this month, according to Schools.

Means plans to contact Schools again soon, he said Tuesday.

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