Portland, ME School Superintendent Suzanne Lukas' Job In Jeopardy

Superintendent of Portland, Maine schools raised the ire of a lot of students and their families a couple weeks ago when she denied Justin Denney his diploma because he blew his mom a kiss as he crossed the stage.

"There's no fooling around up here," she told Denney, and sent him back to his seat empty-handed. She also cracked down on students who inflated some beach balls and a giant rubber duck, and one student was nearly arrested.

Needless to say, a lot of people were upset at the way Lukas handled the graduation at Bonney Eagle High School that day, and many angry reactions followed.

In my column from June 18, I said, "(I)f I were a betting man, I would wager Superintendent Lukas won't be available to distribute diplomas next year or any year after that."

It looks like I may be proved right. In a story on KeepMECurrent.com, Ben Bragdon says that Lukas' future is on the line. The school board voted this past Monday to set a meeting to evaluate her performance.

Lukas has been the superintendent in School Administrative District (SAD) 6 since 2004, and has just finished the first year of a five-year contract that paid her $118,000.

Apparently, she was widely sought after too.

"We must have interviewed three or four dozen people in Kennebunk, and there was unanimous support for Suzanne's abilities, her intelligence and her leadership. She was very highly thought of in Kennebunk," Bruce Avery, chairman of the search committee told the Lakes Region Weekly on June 11, 2004.

And now, thanks to a couple poor decisions on her part, her actions have become national news, she has been humiliated and embarrassed, and her career and future are in the hands of someone else with more power than her.

That just sounds so familiar. I can't quite put my finger on where I heard it though. . .

I've got mixed emotions in this story. On the one hand, Lukas was doing what she thought was right, and she could very well lose her job for it. On the other, she embarrassed students in front of an auditorium full of people and sent a few away empty-handed for very minor offenses.

While I love irony and poetic justice, I can't help but feel sorry for Lukas. Her entire career may come to a humiliating end because she's got control issues.

Maybe now she knows what she put her students through.

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