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Oxford Hills superintendent accused of creating culture of fear and intimidation

27 complaints were levied against Dr. Monica Henson, including an allegation that she...
27 complaints were levied against Dr. Monica Henson, including an allegation that she aggressively touched a distressed elementary school student in September, while filling in as principal.(Gray tv)
Published: Jan. 21, 2022 at 7:59 AM EST
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NORWAY, Maine (WMTW) -The superintendent of the Oxford Hills school district was accused Tuesday night of creating a culture of fear and intimidation amongst students and teachers alike in her first year on the job.

27 complaints were levied against Dr. Monica Henson, including an allegation that she aggressively touched a distressed elementary school student in September, while filling in as principal, after an incident involving that student. The complaints were brought to the school board in a meeting Tuesday.

Oxford Hills Education Association president Jen Jordan told WMTW News 8 that the complaints stemmed from a private vote amongst the association’s members where 95% of the members said they have no confidence in Dr. Henson’s leadership.

“The biggest concern is that there’s an accusation of physical contact and verbal intimidation of students,” Jordan said. “And as far as we’re aware, there’s been no investigation on that, and that’s very concerning to us. We want our students and our staff safe. We had multiple eyewitnesses to the incident, and again, to our knowledge, none of them have been asked or questioned about about that.

Other accusations include sharing inappropriate images of alcohol and weapons to district employees, doling out inconsistent discipline to staff, and creating a fearful environment for students with a “bounty” system rewarding students with money for turning in other students for inappropriate social media posts.

“There’s a lot of fear,” Jordan said. “There’s a lot of fear of job termination, there’s a lot of feeling like we’re being watched, that somebody is just waiting for us to mess up so we can be reprimanded. There are concerns about COVID and how that’s being handled. There are concerns that staff just feel like when they try to express something, it just gets dismissed. And there’s some concern about how chain of command is being portrayed in how it should be used, and then how it is being used. So there are a lot of valid things that staff are concerned about.”

In a statement where she forcefully denied the accusations against her, Dr. Henson asked why the teachers had not gone to the board before Tuesday.

“I’m unaware of any other school system in the state where a teachers’ union is asked to participate directly in the evaluation of the superintendent of schools,” Dr. Henson wrote. “And the OHEA has neglected to take advantage of that opportunity and instead try to hijack the public narrative with a collection of falsehoods and vague expressions of ‘concern’ that is easily disprovable.”

As for the allegation of inappropriately touching an elementary school student in September, Dr. Henson wrote that the parent’s of the student saw no issue with the way the situation was handled.

“The parent did not object to my handling of the incident, communicated with me for the next couple of days, and has filed no complaints with the Board or expressed any further concern since the notification from me,” Dr. Henson wrote.

The full list of the OHEA’s complaints can be found here. Dr. Henson’s full rebuttal statement can be found here.

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