LEWISTON, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- On Thursday, during the Lewiston Auburn Chamber of Commerce's monthly breakfast, Governor LePage said he would name himself as the state's commissioner for the Department of Education.
"The Democrats said they were not going to support him, this way I can keep him and he keeps working and when his acting commissioner status leaves he will be deputy commission and I will be the commissioner," LePage said.
Officials with the Maine Education Association say Maine law prohibits the Governor from doing two jobs pic.twitter.com/skhUoETGJi— Vivien Leigh (@vivienleigh6) February 11, 2016
This comes just two days after LePage temporarily withdrew his nomination of Dr. Bill Beardsley for the position claiming that Democrats were planning to reject him for reasons unrelated to the qualifications for the job.
“I am temporarily withdrawing Dr. Beardsley’s nomination because Democrats on the Joint Standing Committee on Education are planning to unanimously oppose him solely for partisan political games, without regard to his impeccable qualifications,” LePage said in a statement. “Let me be perfectly clear: I have enormous respect for Dr. Beardsley, and I have full confidence in his qualifications. He is my choice for commissioner of DOE, but I will not allow him to be a political whipping boy for socialist Democrats.”
LePage told the Press Herald that he would re-nominate Beardsley “once Democrats put aside their childish and immature political games.”
Adrienne Bennett:, the spokesperson for the Governors' office, says LePage is well within the statute to do this.
Statement from Lois Kilby-Chesley, MEA President:
“The Maine Education Association is more than concerned with the Governor nominating himself as the Commissioner of Education. Legally, per state statute, Title 20-A, Chapter 3, the commissioner “shall devote full time to the duties of the office.” The Governor already has a full-time job. In addition, according to state statute Title 5, section 1, the Governor cannot appoint anyone as Commissioner of Education without that person first being a deputy commissioner. In addition, the law states that deputy commissioner must be appointed from the personnel of the agency, board, commission or department in which the vacancy occurred. Since Governor LePage, number one is not an employee of the Department of Education and number two is not the Deputy Commissioner, he is legally not allowed to be the Commissioner of Education. The Governor knows these laws because he circumvented them when he nominated Bill Beardsley, first giving him a job in special projects at the DOE, then a few hours later appointing him to Deputy Commissioner, and then to Acting Commissioner, making the appointment legal.
This self-appointment is insulting to the students of Maine who deserve a full-time leader in education. The Commissioner of Education is a full-time job for someone who is a visionary with leadership skills, and more importantly someone who has an education background and knowledge of the complexities of education policy; the Governor simply does not meet the job qualifications. This self-appointment continues to show the crisis in credibility at the Department of Education which now has had six commissioners in just three years, calling in to question the ability for anyone to effectively lead Maine schools under this administration. Maine students and schools deserve better than a commissioner who will have no one to answer to but himself, and a commissioner who doesn’t even have a clear handle of the law as written, let alone the ever-changing regulations around education policies.
Bill Beardsley may also not be qualified as deputy commissioner, as he does not understand the laws surrounding child abuse and mandatory reporting, if abuse is suspected. Educators expressed concerns about his time at Husson University and his knowledge of the sexual abuse allegations against the late Reverend Robert Carlson, who at the time was chaplain at the campus where Beardsley was president. According to news stories, Beardsley never reported any knowledge of the abuse to police, and that remained a concern of MEA’s membership as Beardsley’s nomination was considered.
If we are going to be serious about education and every child’s future then this state needs to be serious about doing what works—filling the job opening for Commissioner of Education with himself shows the Governor is not prepared to take education seriously nor is he serious about education and the future of this state.”