SAD 17 superintendent absent, but investigations loom

PARIS — As the principals of School Administrative District 17 met Monday night, ultimately voting to accept the immediate resignation of Superintendent Monica Henson, Henson took to social media to put her own spin on it.

“It’s so cool when the good guys win,” she posted on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

The remark accompanied a meme showing an empty but set table and referred to Psalms 23:5.

A screenshot of Dr. Monica Henson’s April 4 Facebook post, before School Administrative District 17 accepted her resignation. Henson had just six months in her job when she was placed on paid administrative leave. Photo provided

On Tuesday, the advertiser reached out to Henson for comment and received the following response:

“My attorney and I are currently weighing options to prosecute those involved in promoting the false narratives now that investigations have failed, as we knew they would not, to prove the outrageous lies that have been told. .

“We are also considering granting an interview on camera and/or on paper, but that decision will not be made until the decision on actions against those involved in the smear campaign. This includes the superintendent who preceded me in the position, who now works for the Maine Department of Education.

As Henson hurled accusations at his predecessor and spun references to lawsuits against his alleged critics, the newspaper reached out to Rick Colpitts, who led the Oxford Hills School District from 2010 to 2021 and was named superintendent of the school. year in 2015 by Maine School Management. Association.

“I have done everything possible to ensure a successful transition for Dr. Henson prior to my retirement,” Colpitts replied in an email response. “She made it clear at the start of her administration that she preferred me to stay away from the district and I complied professionally. I am discouraged by his statement. “

It wasn’t the first time Henson had responded to criticism with promises of legal action. West Paris resident and parent Richard Damon recalled that when he posted on a Facebook community page about Agnes Gray’s troubles in January, Henson said she called her lawyer and demanded a public response. When another Paris parent spoke out on Facebook about SAD 17 administrators not meeting her child’s special educational needs, Henson engaged in a social media game that began with a threat. legal and escalated by posting images of his handgun.

In his statement Tuesday, Henson teased a possible exclusive interview in the future and disclosed that his attorney’s name is Gregg Frame of Portland.

To date, none of the agencies investigating the allegations against Henson have found them to be false, contrary to his remarks to the Democratic announcer.

Henson resigned more than two months after being placed on administrative leave and nine months after being hired for the position. She was accused of improperly physically restraining a pupil at Agnès Gray primary school in western Paris in September 2021 when she stood in for the headmaster for a day.

The mother of the student involved in the altercation, Ashley Rowe of West Paris, said by telephone on Monday evening that she was unsure what to make of the resignation announcement as she was unaware of the circumstances who surrounded him.

But Rowe didn’t mince words about Henson’s social media post, which she passed on to the newspaper. Rowe said another person on Facebook sent it to him.

“It infuriates me that she thinks traumatizing a child is a winner,” she said.

In a separate statement, the child’s father, Eric Bennett, told the Democratic announcer that Henson belonged in jail.

The incident involving Rowe’s child prompted multiple investigations by the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services and within the district.

The sheriff’s office has concluded its investigation and forwarded its report to the Lewiston District Attorney’s Office.

A screenshot of Monica Henson’s LinkedIn statement to the Advertiser Democrat on April 5.

A screenshot of Monica Henson’s LinkedIn statement to the Advertiser Democrat on April 5.

A screenshot of Monica Henson’s LinkedIn statement to the Advertiser Democrat on April 5.

Monday night’s meeting vote followed a 50-minute executive session.

After the session, President Natalie Andrew of West Paris called a motion “to accept Dr. Henson’s resignation, effective immediately, and allow the chairman of the board to sign a lawyer-brokered separation agreement.”

It was accepted, seconded and adopted without comment from council.

“I look forward to moving forward with the district,” Andrews said after the meeting adjourned. She said no decision has been made about finding a new superintendent.

Heather Manchester, who previously served as chief curriculum officer, was named acting deputy superintendent on Jan. 31.

“I think we are ready to be a stronger Oxford Hills,” said Jeni Jordan, president of the Oxford Hills Education Association. “People love the community and they’re ready to move on.”

On Jan. 18, Jordan presented the board with a list of 27 complaints about Henson’s leadership and said the OHEA held a meeting on Jan. 11 and “there was an overwhelming response to support a vote of mistrust for Dr Henson”.

Andrews said she could not comment on the status of the district’s internal investigation, which is being led by District Attorney Tom Trenholm of Drummond Woodsum.

“The Department is in the final stages of the investigation and is unable to provide further comment at this time,” Jackie Farwell said in an emailed statement Tuesday afternoon.

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