The State Representative from New Gloucester on Monday called on MSAD 15 officials to launch an investigation into allegations that a middle school teacher at Gray-New Gloucester Middle School discussed her sexuality with an 8th grade student.
Audio secretly recorded by the student revealed that resource room instructor Ann Cook had subjected the student to a one-sided political rant filled with questionable claims and left-wing opinions.
The parent who provided the recording to The Maine Wire said his child also told him that Cook had conversations about her own sexuality with the child and showed the child confidential files on other students.
In the secret recording, there are no conversations regarding sexuality. Cook has not responded to a request for an interview regarding the recording and the allegations.
Gray-New Gloucester Middle School Principal Ricky Riley-Benoit said the district does not have a specific policy concerning teachers discussing their own sexuality with students, but that such conversations would fall under other policies.
“There is no policy specifically mentioning discussions of personal sexuality,” he said, “however the concept would fall under the IMB policy guiding discussions about sensitive issues.”
“The student’s statement about Ms. Cook discussing her own and students’ sexuality is very concerning,” State Rep. Amy B. Arata (R-New Gloucester) said in an email to district administrators and school board members.
“The administration should investigate this. If proven, this would be a violation of Policy CBEB – Staff Conduct with Students: “Disclosing personal, sexual, family… matters to one or more students,” she said.
Arata also encouraged the district to clarify policies around the personal political opinions of teachers.
“Freedom from indoctrination and the right to free speech must be balanced, and a clear policy which is legally vetted will help achieve this,” she said.
Arata, a former school board member, said that school officials are limited in what they can say about the case due to the potential for a lawsuit from Maine teachers’ unions.
“I understand that the teachers’ union in Maine is extremely powerful and any comment by you that is critical of Ms. Cook could give rise to a lawsuit, which would be paid for by the taxpayers of our towns,” she said.