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Oxford Hills teachers cast vote of no confidence for superintendent

Parents and staff are concerned about Superintendent Monica Henson, who has been in the role since July 2021.

PARIS, Maine — No confidence. That's what the union representing teachers in the Oxford Hills School District said about Superintendent Monica Henson when they put it to a vote. Parents who spoke to NEWS CENTER Maine say they are also concerned.

"Every time he smiles, and I see the hole in his face, I'm reminded that the oversight in this district isn't where it needs to be," said Aranka Matolcsy of her 10-year-old son. Matolcsy said her son, who has Down syndrome, lost a tooth during an incident in his classroom. She said she asked for observing rights for her and her son's clinician, which was allowed by the previous superintendent.

"Being denied access to his classroom is against every recommendation of every advocacy organization and institution," Matolcsy added.

She's not the only one who said they're having trouble with the district and Henson.

Vicki Morgan said her 10-year-old granddaughter has an anxiety disorder and a learning disability, and her doctor advises she doesn't wear a face mask, and wear a face shield instead.

According to the Maine Department of Education, face shields may be an alternative for those students with documented medical or behavioral challenges who are unable to wear masks.

Morgan got her local legislator and the Maine Department of education involved, and her granddaughter was allowed back in school the following week with a facemask after a note from her doctor.

While her granddaughter is back in the classroom, she and other parents are frustrated. The teachers union also recently sent a vote of no confidence to the school board.

"That is just a statement letting the school board know that the staff who voted don't feel that the leadership of Dr. Henson is effective for our school system," Jen Jordan, president of the Oxford Hills Teachers Union, said. 

There are a number of reasons staff members chose to take a vote, including a situation where the superintendent allegedly used force against a student. Jordan said that there were a number of teachers, administrators, and students who witnessed this alleged interaction. No other details about the incident are available. 

The Oxford Hills Teachers Union held its regular meeting on January 11 where a record number of people attended to participate in the vote.

"We take those accusations very seriously," Jordan added.

Superintendent Henson told NEWS CENTER Maine she has received a lot of support from parents and staff during this process, and of the people who have reached out to her, only one has been negative.

"There are some vocal constituencies, but I don't think they represent the majority of the staff. They don't represent the majority of the community," Henson said.

Parents are still concerned. They said they are happy the school board is listening and will be holding an open forum to share more of their concerns. That forum has not yet been scheduled.

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