SOUTHWEST HARBOR — It now appears Mike Sawyer can miss as many meetings of the Mount Desert Island High School Board of Trustees as he wishes without the fear of losing his seat.
School system Superintendent Marc Gousse told selectmen Tuesday that state statute does not apply to the high school trustees as was originally believed.
Gousse in June had recommended to selectmen that Eric Henry replace Mike Sawyer on the board because Sawyer had missed more than three consecutive meetings. By state law, Gousse maintained, the board could declare a vacancy.
Selectmen at their June 27 meeting took no action on the recommendation, citing the haste in which it was made and their desire to have Town Manager Don Lagrange discuss the matter with Sawyer.
However, Gousse said Tuesday that, after consulting an attorney at DrummondWoodsum of Portland, he learned the 1963 act creating the Mount Desert Board of Trustees does not state that a vacancy can be declared when a member is absent from three consecutive meetings.
Therefore, there is no mechanism in place to remove Sawyer, and the board hopes to have him back participating in meetings, Gousse said.
Ingrid Wilbur Kachmar, who serves on the Southwest Harbor school committee, the high school committee and as a trustee, agreed.
“Our hope is that we somehow can get Mike to participate,” she said.
Wilbur Kachmar asked selectmen to contact Sawyer urging him to again attend meetings.
Sawyer’s absences have resulted in meetings being cancelled due to a lack of a quorum. Seven of the 12 members must be present for a quorum.
Sawyer’s absences might be by design, Selectman George Jellison pointed out. Sawyer is fiscally conservative, and when there is no quorum, no expenditures can be approved.
Jellison told Gousse that school officials should have contacted selectmen about the situation before asking them to consider their recommendation that Henry fill the Sawyer’s seat. Trustees are elected officials of the town, and it’s the job of selectmen to fill any vacancies, not the school department, he said.
Selectmen agreed to contact Sawyer and ask him to participate in meetings.
Sawyer’s three-year term expires in May 2018.