In an email to parents, the Marblehead Charter Community Public School’s Board of Trustees announced that a misconduct investigation into Head of School Peter Cohen has “unsubstantiated those specific allegations of discriminatory misconduct” and has been “administratively closed.”
Cohen, however, announed his resignation, saying “I have decided that what is best for the school and for me professionally and personally is to leave the school. I wish the school the best of success in the future.”
Cohen added, “I am moved by the many parents who took the time to reach out to me personally. I am grateful for those who worked to advocate on my behalf and tried to push for a speedy resolution. As you have been notified by the Board, the original complaint was without merit, and I have been cleared of any wrongdoing as it relates to the allegations that were raised in the complaint.”
Charter’s Assistant Head of School Stephanie Brant will serve as interim head of school while the Board searches for a new leader, according to the email.
“I’m sad to see it’s resolved in this way with Dr. Cohen’s departure; of course, what choice did he have to return to such an environment at our school that had cast dispersions of his character from the very first communication we received as a community about the investigation?” asked parent Keiko Zoll in an email to the Marblehead Current.
“I’m concerned this entire situation leaves our school with the appearance of unsteady leadership at a time when we should be concentrating on closing out the year strong and welcoming our newest families for this coming fall,” Zoll continued. “As a new family to the school this year, I have to put a lot of trust into the acting head of school to guide us through the end of the year, knowing that she too, is equally as new to the school as our family is. Most of all I feel for Dr. Cohen, who’s given many years of loyal service to an otherwise thriving school. It’s a shame all around.”
Late Thursday, MCCPS Board member Lindsay Smith defended the school’s handling of the investigation.
“We followed a due process in accordance with our policies and in consultation with our legal counsel,” Smith said. “We recognize how frustrating it may be for our community not knowing all of the facts, however; we stand by our decision to protect the privacy of all those involved and are confident in our process and findings.
“Moving forward, we are confident that our interim Head of School Ms. Brant, with a demonstrated history of collaborative leadership and supporting successful student outcomes, will be a tremendous asset to MCCPS through this transition.”
Charter’s board suspended Cohen with pay last month after a staff member made a misconduct allegation against him. The board declined to comment on the nature of the allegation, except to say that it did not involve students.
Cohen became Charter’s head of school in 2019, after working as a principal in Nantucket and Westford.
In an unrelated incident, the Current previously reported that former Charter employee Robert Erbetta of Marblehead had filed a complaint against Cohen with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination after being fired last June.
Erbetta had been affiliated with the school for 27 years, serving as a board member at one point. He most recently worked as the facilities director, overseeing construction projects.
“I believe I was unfairly terminated by Mr. Cohen on June 30, 2022, based on my age alone,” Erbetta, who is 80 years old, wrote to the MCAD.
Leigh Blander is an experienced TV, radio and print journalist who has written hundreds of stories for local newspapers, including the Marblehead Reporter. She also works as a PR specialist.