Hounsell to file motion to have colleague censured

By Lloyd Jones

CONWAY — Conway School Board member Mark Hounsell served notice Friday during an emergency meeting that he intends to file a motion to censure his colleague Randy Davison at the board's scheduled Aug. 8 meeting, charging him with "conduct detrimental to the Conway School District."

8-2-Kennett-Middle-School-principal-interview---Todd-Laraque-2Todd Lamarque of Gorham (center) interviews with the Conway School Board on July 28. (LLOYD JONES PHOTO)Hounsell said Davison crossed the line when he contacted Kennett Middle School principal candidate Todd Lamarque at his Gorham home to discuss the position after the board had voted to authorize school superintendent Kevin Richard to offer Larmarque the job.

Lamarque, principal of Lancaster Elementary School, notified Richard by phone Friday morning he was declining the offer.

Reached by the Sun on Monday, Davison said he did nothing wrong and most of his conversation with Lamaraque centered around their both having attended Lyndon State College.

"I felt fine in contacting Todd," Davison said. "We had a common connection. We both went to Lyndon State and we took classes from the same professor, Linda Metzke, who is still there."

Lamarque, who earned about $95,000 this past school year was offered the Kennett Middle School job at a pay rate of $86,000.

But Lamarque rejected the offer, so the school board met Friday afternoon, at which time it voted to offer the post to Rick Biche (see related story).

Following the vote to offer Biche the job, board chairman Janine McLauchlan asked if there was any other business. Hounsell, participating from Vermont by phone, said he did.

"I'm serving notice now that on Aug. 8 I am going to make a motion to censure school board member Randy Davison for acts committed that are detrimental to the Conway School District," Hounsell said.

"Does anyone know what that's about?" Davison asked.

No one replied.

On Monday, Hounsell formally notified the board in writing of the reasoning behind the censure: "It is my understanding from reliable sources that school board member Randy Davison called and spoke with one of the finalists during the time between when the full board extended a contract offer to a specific finalist and when that specific finalist declined the full board's offer. If that is true then it is imperative for the sake of the district that the board respond.  

"The board's action provided that our proposal to the specific finalist would be negotiated by SAU 9 Superintendent, Kevin Richard — NOT any other person, especially a member of the board.

"Should there exist factual evidence or testimony that there is a basis for the allegation that member Davison spoke to one of the finalists then he would be guilty of breaking our board's confidence and that is not acceptable.

"I serve notice to you that should the allegation described above be true I will be presenting a 'Motion Of Censure' at our scheduled Aug. 8 meeting.

"I draw your attention to Robert's Rules of Order Chapter XX (page 643).

"A motion of censure if adopted is an expression of 'strong disapproval and harsh criticism' by the board. It is sometimes known as a vote of no confidence."

But Davison said that "the offer had already been made when I talked to Todd. I didn't breach any confidence, nor did I offer or promise anything. I felt he would be a great fit if he came on board — he'd be a great asset to the middle school.

"I had a pretty extensive conversation with Todd," he continued. "He brought back a lot of good memories from Lyndon State. He sounded pretty positive on the phone. I didn't breach confidence. If anything I was doing more of a cheerleader approach and hopefully welcoming him aboard. His major concern was making a lateral movement with less pay."

Under Robert's Rules of Order, under the section titled "Making a Motion to Censure," "To censure a member or an officer is to warn him or her that if a certain behavior continues, the next step is suspension or expulsion. Purpose: To reprimand the member with the hopes of reforming him or her so that he or she won't behave in the same way again."

The process on Aug. 8 would be for Hounsell to make a motion to censure. The motion, if seconded, requires a majority vote to pass and can't be reconsidered.

"The member is put on notice that if he or she repeats the offense, he or she can be suspended or removed from membership or office," Robert's Rules states.

"The member or officer being censured may come to his own defense during the debate but can't vote," Robert's Rules notes. "Taking the vote by ballot is wise. A member cannot be censured twice for the same offense."