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Copyright 2014 Portland Newspapers
Portland Press Herald (Maine)
Leslie Bridgers, Leslie Bridgers lbridgers@pressherald.com -- Staff Writer

Marc Sawyer, who was hired as Westbrook's director of athletics and activities less than two years ago, went on leave last week and has decided not to return, said Principal Jon Ross.

Ross declined to be more specific. Sawyer couldn't be reached for comment Monday.

Sawyer's sudden departure comes about a week after seven student-athletes were suspended from their teams for attending a drinking party on April 22 that was broken up by police.

Two students were arrested and others were issued summonses.

It was the second high-profile party involving Westbrook student- athletes this school year, and the parties -- as well as the school system's efforts to curtail the behavior -- have drawn media attention.

In the fall, about 30 students were initially suspended from their teams for attending a party with alcohol, but the punishments were overturned.

Ross has said he and Sawyer interpreted the school's alcohol policy for athletes differently, and when Ross found out that girls' soccer players who had been at the party were allowed to attend their team's banquet, he deemed the discipline flawed and lifted the suspensions.

That enabled several members of the football team to play in a playoff game, which triggered some members of the community to level accusations of favoritism for certain athletes.

An investigator hired to look into how the discipline was handled found the high school administrators lacked experience, confidence in their decisions and support from their superiors and parents.

In his resignation letter, Sawyer said he decided to leave because of "the incestuous culture of the community, individuals placing their own needs ahead of the overall group, and the inability for many to understand appropriate boundaries."

Sawyer later said in a phone interview that he felt he and community members had "a difference in philosophy" about holding students accountable and decided the job "wasn't the right fit."

A 1991 Westbrook High School graduate, Sawyer said becoming the school's director of athletics and activities had been his dream job. Before he was hired in July 2012, Sawyer was working as a health and physical education teacher and baseball coach at Bonny Eagle High School in Standish.

For the rest of the school year, Assistant Principal Tim Stebbins will serve as athletics and activities director, Ross said.

He said school officials plan to start interviewing applicants and hire someone to replace Sawyer within the next few weeks.

Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at:

lbridgers@pressherald.com

Twitter: @lesliebridgers

 

May 6, 2014

 

 
 

 

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