Rosemarie De Angelis was appointed to the South Portland Board of Education on Tuesday, taking the District 3 seat vacated when Hannah Bitjoka resigned in November.

Six applicants for the seat presented statements at the City Council meeting Tuesday and councilors ranked their top three choices for the appointment. De Angelis appeared in all seven councilors’ top three.

“I will promise that I will work hard and represent the citizens of South Portland as best I can,” De Angelis said.

De Angelis

Councilors cited De Angelis’ experience as an adjunct professor at Southern Maine Community College and as a speech and language pathologist for the city’s school department for over 25 years, along with her two non-consecutive terms on the City Council.

“That’s the kind of relationship she has with the community,” said Councilor Natalie West. “We’re lucky to have her here and we’re lucky to have her doing that work, and I think she’d be a positive addition to the school board.”

As councilors ranked the applicants, some said they would prefer a candidate who has children in the school system. De Angelis does not, but argued that allows her to bring an important perspective.


“On behalf of those of you who feel like it’s important for somebody to have kids in school,” she said, “there are multiple members of the school board who have kids in school and I think having someone on the school board who does not have kids in school gives a voice to that part of our population as well.”

The other applicants were Sarah Athearn, Jennifer Doebler, Marie Véronique Emonds, George Weaver and Chelsea White. The council disqualified White for a potential conflict of interest because she works at Spurwink, which contracts with the school department.

Having to disqualify an applicant just 30 minutes before making the appointment prompted councilors to question why the school board didn’t properly vet the candidates.

“The school district has to look at these applicants,” West said. “It’s really not up to us to be trying to figure this out.”

Councilor Richard Matthews, who served on the school board for 12 years, argued the board should be making the appointments.

“In my heart, I truly believe these candidates should be in front of a school board and working with them to try to figure out who’s best or who would work well with the board,” Matthews said.

Since Bitjoka left one year into her three-year term, De Angelis will serve the second year of that unexpired term. The third year of the unexpired term – running from December 2023 to December 2024 – will be decided at the November 2023 general election.

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