Danvers picks Marblehead High Principal Bauer as next superintendent

Marblehead High School Principal Dan Bauer has been offered the position of superintendent of schools in Danvers and will start his new job in July, pending successful completion of contract negotiations.

Members of the Danvers School Committee voted unanimously to offer him the position at a special meeting Monday, Jan. 9, the same day as the third of the finalists, Geoff Bruno, the superintendent of schools in Scarborough, Maine, had his public interview after spending the day in the district.

“I have not heard one negative thing about him,” Danvers School Committee member Robin Doherty said of Bauer, leading off the board’s discussion of the finalists. “I have heard he is able to have difficult conversations with anyone, regardless of how well he knows that person or doesn’t.”

Doherty added that she had learned that Bauer is “great at building relationships and great at collaboration.”

“He would be able to come in and heal Danvers,” she said.

Doherty added that while academics are important, “We really can’t [push academics] unless you have relationships first.”

Member Joshua Kepnes, who was charged with focusing investigating Bauer’s candidacy in particular, said that one comment he received that stuck with him was, “Danvers needs Dan Bauer right now.”

One of Bauer’s references had told him, “Dan’s a treasure for any community who scoops him up.”

Kepnes noted how often Bauer is seen at school community events, whether they are sports or drama.

“He seemed to be tireless,” Kepnes said he heard.

Member Gabe Lopes said that he had not checked Bauer’s references personally but did not have to, due to an influx of unsolicited references and local support.

“Everyone, somewhere, somehow seems to know Dan Bauer,” he said.

The other finalist was Peter Cushing, the current assistant superintendent in Medford, who was also part of a finalist pool in Milton that also included Marblehead Assistant Superintendent Nan Murphy. The Milton School Committee offered that job to Peter Burrows, the superintendent of the Addison Central School District in Middlebury, Vermont.

Bauer has been the principal at MHS since 2016. Before coming to Marblehead, Bauer had served as an assistant principal in Beverly.

The Danvers superintendent job has been vacant since the spring. Lisa Dana initially went on medical leave about a year ago after coming under fire for her administration’s handling of alleged violent racist, homophobic, and antisemitic behavior by members of the Danvers High 2019-20 boys’ varsity hockey team, which prompted an investigation by the state attorney general’s office.

In April, Dana made the decision to retire effective Aug. 31, 2022, “after a great deal of reflection while out on medical leave,” according to a prepared statement issued by the Danvers School Committee.

Monday night’s selection of Bauer was another acceleration of Danvers’ process to find a permanent replacement for Dana. The board had initially planned not to release its finalist selections until Jan. 9 and now has made a job offer by that date.

Last month, Danvers School Committee Chairman Eric Crane suggested that the district was moving quickly due to anticipated intense cooperation for top superintendent candidates throughout the state.

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