School District investigating arrest of school official in Maine

Randall Hunt [Photo provided]

An Indian River County School District employee’s arrest earlier this month in Maine, where he allegedly caused a racially motivated disturbance at a bar and shoved a police officer, could result in job-related consequences here.

Randall Hunt [Photo provided]

“We have already opened an investigation to confirm all facts and allegations,” Interim Superintendent Susan Moxley wrote in an email to Vero Beach 32963 last weekend. “We take this very seriously and will follow School Board policy and state statutes as they apply.”

The district’s investigation stems from the July 10 arrest of Randall Hunt, who works in the Exceptional Student Education Department as a program specialist for resource and transition services.

Hunt, 54, of Vero Beach, was charged with assaulting a law enforcement officer, disorderly conduct and refusing to submit to arrest, according to Portland Police Lt. Robert Martin, who said all three offenses are misdemeanors.

In addition to any criminal penalties in Maine, Hunt could be subject to disciplinary action by the local school district or have his state educator certificate revoked or suspended by the Florida Education Practices Commission – if he’s not acquitted of the charges.

Not only does Hunt’s position with the district require a “satisfactory criminal background check,” but his job description includes the expectation that he “demonstrate respect for diverse perspectives, ideas and opinions,” “act in a professional and ethical manner” and “exercise appropriate professional judgment.”

Hunt could not be reached for comment.

Martin said Hunt was arrested after police twice responded to late-night calls regarding a “verbal altercation” instigated by the vacationing Floridian and involving a bartender and another patron at the American Legion Post bar on Peaks Island, off the coast of Portland.

Police initially were called to the bar at 11:50 p.m. July 9, Martin said, but Hunt had left the premises before they arrived. Police were called again when Hunt returned.

“We received a second complaint about the same gentleman,” Martin said. “When we returned and tried to talk to him, he shoved an officer. That’s when he was arrested.”

The other patron – the target of Hunt’s alleged ire – was Shay Stewart-Bouley, a black woman who writes a racial equality blog and serves as the executive director of Community Change Inc., a civil rights organization in Boston.

After posting brief accounts on Twitter and Facebook, Stewart-Bouley shared her version of what she described as a “racial incident on the island where I live” in her blog, “Black Girl in Maine.”

In an entry last week, Stewart-Bouley explained that she was at a “local watering hole, having drinks with friends” and talking about an upcoming anti-racism project she was working on.

She wrote that her friends had left the bar, but she stayed to finish her drink. Before she departed, however, she claims to have heard Hunt, who was nearby, complain to the bartender about “that black woman,” calling her conversation “inappropriate.”

According to the Portland Press Herald, Hunt had overheard Stewart-Bouley’s conversation and told the bartender she should be asked to leave because she was discussing racial issues in public.

Instead, the bartender told Hunt she didn’t serve racists and asked him to leave, the newspaper reported.

Stewart-Bouley wrote that Hunt initially refused to go, but he eventually left – only to return “highly intoxicated” and “with apparent malice in mind.”

She wrote that she was “shaken” by the incident, adding, “At no point had I ever spoken to this man. He had, however, leered at me at the bar and seemed to be paying an inordinate amount of attention to my conversation before my friends had left.”

Martin said Hunt was transported by boat to the mainland, where he was taken to the Cumberland County Jail and booked. Neither Martin nor a sheriff’s deputy at the jail were able to provide any information about his release or if any bail had been posted.

Stewart-Bouley wrote that police told her Hunt’s vacation rental had been terminated “due to his arrest” and he had been seen leaving the island. Martin said he believed Hunt had returned home to Vero Beach.

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