Following a tense Maine School Administrative District 51 (MSAD #51) board meeting in July that was adjourned after a parent raised concerns over pornographic books in the district’s school libraries, a board member called the police on a group of parents speaking peacefully with the district’s superintendent outside of the meeting.
During the July 17 MSAD #51 board meeting, Scott Jordan of Cumberland, the parent of a child in the district, used his public comment time to present documents to the board showing that Cumberland’s Greely High School library contains obscene and pornographic books.
Before beginning his prepared remarks, Jordan sparred with the board chairperson, Leanne Candura, when she limited Jordan’s comments to three minutes — even though the speaker prior to Jordan spoke for more than six minutes.
“While this administration might think that the district knows what’s best for our children, I can tell you they don’t. But you know who knows what’s best for our children? The Parents,” Jordan said in his remarks.
“Can somebody please explain to me how this district is able to push pornographic books such as Gender Queer — which I’ve provided pictures for — and indoctrinate our children into a particular lifestyle while they are still discovering life and who they are, and how this is acceptable by this administration?” Jordan asked.
After three minutes, Candura interrupted Jordan to inform him that his allotted public comment time had expired.
Jordan initially refused to leave the podium without the board addressing his concerns over the books, but when the board began to discuss adjourning the meeting, he said he would sit down and let others speak.
The board then voted to adjourn the meeting, a little over 25 minutes after it had began.
After the meeting adjourned, Jordan and other parents were speaking with MSAD #51 Superintendent Jeff Porter in the Greely High School parking lot.
According to documents obtained by the Maine Wire from the Cumberland Police Department, shortly after 6:30 p.m., one school board member called the police on the parents to report that a group was “surrounding/threatening the superintendent.”
Dispatch notes indicate that the “caller is with school board – requesting pd presence to escort a group of people who were at the school board meeting off the property, who were refusing to leave.”
The transcript of the 911 call shows that a caller (name redacted by police) identified themselves as a member of the school board, and said they were “not comfortable” leaving the group with any administrator.
The caller states that the group of individuals said they were not going to leave until the board “did something about books at the school.”
The caller said that they wanted an officer to respond “just to see if they disperse,” and that they didn’t “want our Superintendent to feel like he can’t leave.”
Two Cumberland police officers responded to the call, Sgt. Antonio Ridge and Officer Joseph Burke.
According to Sgt. Ridge’s sequence of events report, Officer Burke spoke with the superintendent outside of the high school’s cafeteria where he was speaking with a few people.
“The superintendent tells Officer Burke that he is all set and does not need a police response. The encounter with all involved parties is pleasant and lighthearted per Axon video,” the report states.
When Sgt. Ridge arrived at the Greely High School cafeteria, he noted that “everyone appears calm,” and the group dispersed.
Scott Jordan told the Maine Wire that he had approached one of the responding officers, and that the officer had mistaken him for conservative activist Shawn McBreairty, and asked Jordan if “they were going to have a problem like last year.”
Jordan said that the officer he spoke with became angry with him, and told him that he “didn’t want to be dragged into [his] political issues.”
According to Ridge’s report, one of the individuals from the group speaking with the superintendent, who apparently was Scott Jordan, walked across the parking lot to his car and began to speak with him.
“I recognize him as [redacted],” Ridge states. “We had a brief exchange and I left when he began to air his grievances about the school with me.”
Sgt. Ridge then spoke with Superintendent Porter, and indicated that “[Porter] is very calm with no indication of being upset or excited.”
“[Porter] tells me that he is all set and that [redacted] had simply disagreed with being cut off from speaking and didn’t think he was being treated fairly,” Ridge wrote.
Porter told Ridge that there was a new school board chairperson, Candura, and that he would be “coaching the board on how to deal with these scenarios in the future.”
“Mr. Porter said that [redacted] was not a problem since [redacted] would listen to people when they interacted with him, unlike some attendees from prior years,” Ridge added.
“It’s not shocking that the individual called, but it’s disappointing knowing that anybody that was sitting in the parking lot, standing in the parking lot, walked by, saw that the conversation was pleasant, nonconfrontational,” Jordan said in a comment to the Maine Wire.
“And for them to waste our public resources, knowing that we’re already short-staffed, like many other towns in Maine, is extremely disappointing,” he said.
“I understand why the police had to show up, there’s a protocol to it and I understand that,” he added. “But again it’s very disappointing, because I’m not confrontational in that way, by any stretch of the imagination, nor was that my goal.”
See the full transcript of the 911 call and Sgt. Ridge’s sequence of events report below: