Fitzgerald resigns from South Portland School Board

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SOUTH PORTLAND — School Board member Tappan Fitzgerald unexpectedly resigned Monday.

Fitzgerald, who represented District 5, served a year of his third consecutive three-year term after being re-elected last November.

He cited personal reasons for his decision in a brief statement during the Sept. 12 School Board meeting.

When things change, Fitzgerald said, “your decisions should, too. For personal reasons, I’m going to regretfully resign at the conclusion of tonight’s meeting.”

“Obviously I respect all of you and have a great deal of respect for all teachers, administrators and staff (in) the South Portland School Department,” he continued. “I’ve enjoyed my time and the good work we’ve done.”

Board Chairman Dick Matthews on Wednesday said Fitzgerald’s resignation “caught us all off guard.”

“It was a surprise, (but) I wish him the best,” Matthews said.

Fitzgerald, during a phone interview Wednesday, would not elaborate on his reasons for leaving. But he said he regrets not giving the board more notice, and wanted people to know his decision was not based on dissatisfaction.

“I’m not going away mad, I’m just going away,” Fitzgerald said. “Someday, maybe I’ll (come) back again. … I’ve loved my time on the board, (and) I feel that in the six years I’ve been on the board, we’ve made a lot of great changes in the schools for the better,” from streamlining of the school budgeting process, to being a part of the major renovation of South Portland High School.

“It’s kind of cool to know that you’ve been a part of that,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s been a great run.”

Matthews said he plans to recognize Fitzgerald’s accomplishments on the board at an upcoming meeting.

Filling the vacancy left by Fitzgerald’s departure will now fall to the City Council, City Clerk Emily Scully said Monday.

The resident appointed will fill the position for a year. An election to complete final year of Fitzgerald’s term will be held in November 2017.

The City Council will hold a special workshop to interview prospective candidates on Monday, Oct. 17. Councilors will select a candidate during their regularly scheduled meeting.

Interested residents in District 5 – which extends from the city’s northwest border with Portland, to its southwest border with Scarborough, to Wescott Road and Dawson Street – should apply on the city website, or mail applications to the city clerk’s office, 25 Cottage Road. Questions should be directed to the clerk’s office at 767-7627.

Two other School Board seats are on the Nov. 8 ballot this year, but only one candidate has filed papers, for District 2.

The District 1 seat will be filled by the person who receives the most write-in votes, unless they choose not to serve or is not qualified, Scully said.

If the seat remains vacant, it will fall to the City Council to appoint a board member who will serve until the next general election, Scully said.

Alex Acquisto can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or aacquisto@theforecaster.net. Follow Alex on Twitter: @AcquistoA.

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South Portland and Scarborough reporter for The Forecaster. Graduate of Western Kentucky University and the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. Alex can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106.