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Attack by Portland Mayor on Maine Public Charter School Unfounded and Inappropriate
March 28, 2013
For Immediate Release: Thursday, Mar. 28
Contact: Adrienne Bennett, Press Secretary (207) 287-2531
AUGUSTA – Responding to a blatant attack on Maine’s first proposed public charter school focused on teaching technology and science, Governor Paul R. LePage condemned today inappropriate activities that Portland’s Mayor has requested of Maine Attorney General, Janet Mills.
Mayor Brennan has demanded that Attorney General Mills intervene between the Maine Charter School Commissioner and the Baxter Academy for Technology and Science to investigate the school. In a letter to Mills on March 22, Brennan requests that Mills investigate Baxter Academy for Technology and Science on the premise of ‘financial mismanagement’ and to suspend contract negotiations and provide legal advice to the City of Portland regarding the procedures for appeals of the Commission decisions. Brennan is also pressuring the Portland School District withhold payment of funds to the Academy until an investigation is complete.
Mills responded to Mayor Brennan, in her own letter dated March 27, declining to interject the Attorney General’s Office into the matter. She instead pointed out that the Maine Commission on Charter Schools has the legal authority and responsibility to ensure fiscal capability of charter schools.
On Thursday, Governor LePage called Brennan’s attack “the latest salvo in your campaign against the proposed school and charter schools generally.” In a letter to Mayor Brennan, Governor LePage writes, “I urge you to refocus your efforts on more productive activities and less on attacking some of Maine’s most motivated students. For example, you might consider taking the proposed 31 percent increase in the District’s Superintendent’s office budget and redirecting this funding to replicate Portland’s best science and technology programs district-wide.”
Maine passed its charter school bill in 2011 making Maine the 41st state to allow them. Charter schools, such as Baxter Academy for Technology and Science, are publicly funded schools governed and operated independently of the traditional public school system.
They have more flexibility than traditional public schools over decisions concerning curriculum and instruction, scheduling, staffing and finance. Charter schools, however, are accountable to the terms of the contracts, or charters, that authorize their existence and the academic standards to which all other public schools are accountable.