Ryan McQueen quits RSU 21 School Board after 'hateful' social media posts spark complaints
KENNEBUNK, Maine — A member of the RSU 21 School Board resigned Wednesday while facing criticism and a potential recall in connection with posts he made on social media.
Ryan McQueen submitted his letter at the Arundel Town Hall. On Thursday, RSU 21 Superintendent Terri Cooper acknowledged the resignation in a letter to the community.
On Thursday, RSU 21 spokesperson David Singer confirmed the School Board discussed complaints about McQueen and his social media posts during an executive session on March 20. Singer said a member of the community had presented “screen captures” of the posts to the school district.
Singer confirmed one of those “screen captures” included a tweet on Twitter of a meme that read, “People are similar to sharks because all the great ones are white.”
In a letter to parents and other stakeholders in the district on Wednesday, Cooper called the posts “hateful toward transgender people, people of color, and women.”
Cooper said individual board members do not speak for the RSU 21 School Board as a whole or for the district.
“We stand for inclusion and fostering a healthy learning environment for our students and a safe working environment for all of our employees,” Cooper said. “We will not allow members of our community to be targeted by or subjected to bigotry.”
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McQueen claims he has been 'slandered'
Arundel Town Clerk Rachel Bull said Thursday she had received a letter from a resident expressing interest in recalling McQueen from his seat on the School Board. Bull said her staff was about to begin putting together the petition paperwork when they learned McQueen had resigned.
In his letter, McQueen wrote, “I did not volunteer for this position to be attacked and slandered.”
McQueen attended the School Board meeting on March 20. On the agenda, the executive session was listed as a discussion about an “investigation of complaints against a person or persons.”
McQueen could not be reached for comment on Thursday.
Cooper said the district has worked in recent years on issues of diversity, equity and inclusion. In addition to creating a 50-person ad hoc committee to address the issues, the district’s other initiatives have included providing professional development for staff and assessing curriculum and policies to align with state standards and Maine law, Cooper added.
“We also are ensuring that students who are in clubs and activities are engaged, active participants in these efforts,” she said. “We are proud that our efforts will continue and expand moving forward.”
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Cooper called the course that the district and school board are following “the right one for students and staff.”
“Bigotry and hatred have no place in our school community,” she said. “We are fully committed to providing a welcoming, safe and supportive learning and work environment for all students and staff.”
McQueen was critic of school district before being elected
McQueen was elected to the School Board in 2022. He ran unopposed to finish a term vacated by board member Todd Shea, who resigned.
Before serving on the board, McQueen was a vocal critic of the school district’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. On a 12-degree day in February 2022, McQueen joined a group that stood at the entrance of the Middle School of the Kennebunks and waved signs calling for parental choice and the end of the face-mask mandate then in place for the district.
That evening, McQueen and others attended an RSU 21 School Board meeting and called for an end to the mask mandate there, as well. That evening grew contentious, and Board Chair Art LeBlanc adjourned the meeting early when some in the audience refused to put on a face mask, as was then required.
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What's next for vacated School Board seat
According to the charter in Arundel, the town’s select board has 30 days to nominate someone to replace McQueen until what would have been the end of his term in 2024.
The Arundel Select Board will meet this Monday, March 27, at the municipal building on Limerick Road at 7 p.m.
Bull said anyone interested in seeking McQueen’s former seat can contact her office at (207) 985-4201, ext. 102, or at email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on Portsmouth Herald: McQueen quits RSU 21 School Board after 'hateful' social media posts