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KITTERY, Maine — The town’s academy commune will not apply a academy ability administrator for the accessible year afterward a aerial vote by the Academy Board Tuesday night.
A motion to accept the announcement of acceding with the Badge Administration for Academy Ability Administrator Jay Durgin’s casework bootless with a 3-3 tie, with Chair Julie Dow abnegation because Durgin is her brother.
The vote came two weeks afterwards a scattering of association associates wrote belletrist to the Academy Board requesting the abatement of badge attendance from Kittery schools. The account prompted polarizing discussions on boondocks Facebook pages, as able-bodied as a aggressive petition.
One Academy Board affiliate declared it a agitation in which “every ancillary is fueled by a charge to assure our children.”
At the affection of the altercation brought alternating aftermost ages by those opposing the SRO role was that the attendance of a badge administrator does not agree to the aforementioned abundance and assurance for Black and amber acceptance as it does for white students, because the actual burst accord amid communities of blush and police.
Several association told the board on July 21 that the SRO funds – about $50,000 – would be bigger acclimated if directed adjoin brainy bloom supports for students, a mentorship program, or the attendance of a amusing artisan or biologic and booze corruption counselor, for example.
A mother to two Black accouchement and affiliate of Kittery-based accumulation Association Advocates For All, Meaghan Dunn contested that Kittery cannot actually be an anti-racist association if it funds badge attendance in its schools.
The Kittery Education Association – the abutment that represents Kittery’s agents – came out “in abounding support” of Durgin and the SRO role, calling it a “vital” position that “builds trust, account and aplomb amid the badge force and the students.” An online address created by a Traip Academy apprentice garnered added than 1,000 signatures in abutment of Durgin, a third-generation Kittery resident, Traip alum and 20-year badge administrator with the town.
The Academy Board convened in-person Tuesday at the association center, area the chat connected and abounding associates of the accessible batten both in favor of and in activity to the SRO role.
When the SRO altercation arose aftermost month, “many in our association stepped advanced to acquaint me and my Black ancestors how altered it is actuality and how the issues that face the blow of the nation do not aftereffect us in this little bend of the world,” said citizen Wanda Dorlean, whose ancestors is Afro-Caribbean.
Dorlean aggregate with the board that in Kittery, she has been asked abundant times if she “is actuality legally.” Her 7-year-old has been told “you can’t comedy with us because you’re brown,” she said. She has been declared the N-word, followed in her neighborhood, and recently, while blueberry picking, her accouchement were lectured that they “weren’t accustomed to eat a distinct blueberry” until they’d paid “because it would be advised theft,” Dorlean said.
“The three white families abaft us were not accustomed the aforementioned lecture,” she added.
Dorlean asked the Academy Board to “please accept to the bodies who accept accomplished a altered Kittery than the one you have.”
Erika Vargas, whose accouchement are Mexican-American, said, “We charge abate our hearts and accessible our aerial to the needs of accouchement of color.”
“To be actually clear,” she added, “a vote to not extend the SRO position is a vote for an actively anti-racist community.”
Erika Gebo, a assistant of criminology and folklore at Suffolk University, said she has acutely advised and accounting about badge in schools, and “I would acclaim that we not renew the SRO contract.”
Gebo said SROs do not abate bullying, agitated abomination or accessory infractions, based on her research. She acclaimed the SRO at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High Academy in Parkland, Florida, was arrested for adolescent carelessness for his declared cessation during the cutting that dead 17 – absorption an disability in SROs in attention adjoin academy shootings, she said.
Addressing a accompanying calendar account Tuesday night – a angle to authorize a assignment force to amend the SRO role in Kittery – Dunn said, “I catechism why you accept a abstraction on the SRO affairs in Kittery will accommodate altered results.”
Dunn said she would rather participate in a “multi-racial, multi-class board tasked to burrow abysmal into how we can accomplish the Kittery schools places of equity, inclusivity and empowerment.”
Many speakers were bright that their affair was not with Durgin, but rather the SRO position itself.
Speaking adamantly in favor of befitting the SRO role in place, Keerstin Harrington, an educational artisan and mother in the Kittery Academy District, said she has “extreme affair for area we are branch as a community.”
“The anticipation that a accumulation of bodies could adjudge that abundance comes afore assurance appalls me,” Harrington said. “If we set the accepted that defunding the badge is the way to go, area does it stop? There is angry all over our world. Do we defund teachers? Doctors? Medical facilities?”
Harrington referenced academy incidents aftermost year such as “a ball area acceptance were drinking, a activity in which a baptize bubbler was damaged, and two amateur arrested for animal assault.” She asked who would handle those situations if there wasn’t an SRO.
Harrington said because badge admiral are actuality targeted in the conversation, “I accept it is a anatomy of racism in itself.”
She apprenticed Danielle Hoffman, the Academy Committee’s communication to Association Advocates For All, to abjure from the SRO vote because CAFA was one of the active armament abaft the request.
“I accept it would do our students, agents and agents a disservice if this actuality was aback not in our schools this year, abnormally with so abundant accident in the apple appropriate now,” said Sarah Lane, who asked that the board renew the SRO relationship.
Haleigh Stenta, who started the online address in support, declared Durgin an “exceptional and absolute person” who has “taken affliction of our academy district.”
During board deliberations, affiliate Kim Bedard said, “This has been the aboriginal affair I did not appetite to go to, absolutely frankly.”
“Because we accept a aces SRO,” she continued. “But I absolutely anticipate that we are committed to actuality anti-racist, and attractive at that, we aloof accept to accomplish some boxy decisions.”
Bedard said the Academy Board “needs to be on the appropriate ancillary of history with this one.”
Hoffman batten about the “incredible bulk of power” badge admiral wield. “They accept the ability to change lives, to end lives,” she said. “And there are apropos actuality aloft by families in our association about the accident of accepting them in our schools.”
Committee affiliate Annie Cicero gave an animated accent about anti-racist accomplish she believes the schools charge to take, advised adjoin the time appropriate to “evolve aural our system, a adventitious to move our association forth with us.”
“What bodies accept been calling for to alter our SRO, back they’ve been talking about absolute relationships and the mentorship and the trusted adult, we appetite to acquisition all that, too, but we don’t accept those systems in abode yet,” Cicero said. “And if we vote tonight abruptly to say, ’No, we don’t appetite this accord any longer,’ and we anon abolish that, those brainy bloom workers are not advancing in tomorrow to ample that void. We can’t allow it on what we pay for this.”
That actuality said, Cicero added, “I don’t anticipate it’s fair afresh that we’re allurement bodies of blush to delay for the appropriate moment because because they’ve been told that their absolute history. But we charge time to do this.”
Member Rhonda Pomerleau, a above badge officer, cited the absolute relationships her accouchement had with SROs in the past.
“I anticipate added bodies are depending on that SRO than aren’t,” she said. “I’ve aloof never heard of a botheration in the boondocks of Kittery up until the afterlife of (George) Floyd.”
Pomerleau added, “I can absolutely agreeably say I am actual anxious about assurance issues.”
Though abnegation from the vote because of her accord to Durgin, Dow said she was anxious that he SRO position was included in the academy account voters already accustomed July 14.
Ultimately, Hoffman, Bedard and Nicholas Chalupa voted adjoin acknowledging the announcement of agreement, while Cicero, Vice Chair Anne Gilbert and Pomerleau voted in favor. Because the vote was a tie, the motion failed.
In a account Wednesday, Kittery Badge Chief Robert Richter said the administration is “disappointed” with the committee’s decision. He hailed Durgin as a “professional badge officer, compassionate coach and caring person,” while abacus that it is “unfortunate” that the Badge Administration was afar from the conversations about the SRO position.
Asked Wednesday about the antecedent approval of the SRO allotment aural the budgetary year 2021 academy budget, Superintendent Eric Waddell said “a cogent reallocation of funds appointed for one purpose to addition purpose” would aboriginal be advised by the Finance Committee, a continuing board of the Academy Committee. Afterward a advocacy by the Finance Committee, the reallocation would again crave academic activity by the Academy Committee, he said.
Also asked about claims that Hoffman’s captivation with CAFA airish a battle of interest, citation the Academy Committee’s battle of absorption policy, Waddell said, “I don’t see that any affiliate of the Academy Board has abandoned that policy.”
Hoffman directed inquiries to Dow, who could not be anon accomplished for animadversion Wednesday.
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