A month after announcing his surprising resignation, Superintendent Greg Maass said he stands by his decision to bring his tenure in Marblehead to a close.
Maass read a prepared statement Thursday night at a substantially more somber School Committee meeting than the last, which attracted over 100 residents and lasted more than two hours a few weeks ago.
“A month ago I made the most difficult decision of my career. It was an excruciating, gut-wrenching one: a resignation,” Maass said. “In my letter [of resignation] I made it clear that I could not lead given the lack of delineation of roles and responsibilities. Respectfully, I’d like the community to know, a month later, that I stand by my decision and my resignation. I’ve always believed and I’ve always coached individuals that you can’t go back. You must move forward.”
The superintendent, who has served for two years after relocating from Green Bay, Wisc., announced his departure at a School Committee meeting on March 21, stating that tension among committee members and personal reasons fueled his resignation. He had one year left in his contract.
With Maass leaving his post, the town will seek to hire its sixth superintendent since 2005.
School Committee Member Kathleen Leonardson said she had no idea what to expect when Maass read his statement, but was hoping that he would retract his resignation.
“I wasn’t sure,” Leonardson said. “The support of the community was pretty unprecedented, so I really didn’t know. I was hoping he would [retract his resignation] because there are a lot of transitions that are going to have to happen and I think his leadership was really important in getting us where we are.”
During the April 4 meeting, School Committee Chair EuRim Chun announced that she would resign by the end of the school year, and her fellow committee member Richard Nohelty said he would also give up his seat.
Thus far Chun has formally resigned, effective June 30, by sending in a written letter to the town clerk. Nohelty has yet to do so.
Nohelty, who has one year left in his term, said that he stands by his word in stepping down, but he can’t give an exact date as to when he will.
“I said I would resign, but I also said that I wanted to see the transition through,” Nohelty said. “I want to see what the transition plans are so I can see what that means. What I said is that we should set up a transition plan but we haven’t heard what the transition plan is yet so I can’t commit to something that we haven’t discussed yet.”
Nohelty added that there are quite a few changes occurring within the district, including hiring a new business manager, a new high school principal, and addressing financial issues, among other things. He said he feels obligated to see those transformations through.
“We need to see how these things resolve,” Nohelty said. “I feel responsible to the town. The people elected me to help out the town. It was requested of the chair that we give a fresh start, and I agree, but we also have to complete this year’s job. It doesn’t end June 30. It flops over to next year. There’s a job to be done. It’s about the kids.”
Much of that transition time will be dictated by what happens after the May 13 town election.
Leonardson is the sole incumbent seeking reelection, and will be opposed by potential candidates Meredith Tedford, Eyal Oren, and Jennifer Williams.
Longtime School Committee Member Jonathan Lederman recently announced the withdrawal of his bid to run for reelection, citing a lack of unity and collaboration, among other things, as reasons for his decision.
The town election will fill the two vacant School Committee spots.
If Nohelty officially resigns, the third seat will be filled by an interim committee member appointed by the Board of Selectmen and the remaining School Committee Members.
The question of who will replace Maass also stands, and whether or not the newly organized School Committee will hire externally or from within the district.
“I think we have to look at all the options,” Leonardson said. “We have to look at people internally that might have the credentials and we have a number of them. One of the messages from the public and from people that have a lot of experience in the School Committee really was ‘Get your house in order before you get a new superintendent.’ That means, as a School Committee, we’re going to have to work really hard to make sure everybody’s on the same page in terms of roles and responsibilities because that’s where all the problems were.”