At 2:20 p.m., Chair Sarah Fox sent out a “joint press release” on behalf of the School Committee and superintendent saying, “The Marblehead Public School Committee and Dr. John Buckey have come to an acceptable agreement resulting in his resignation as Superintendent of Schools.
The statement continued, “Dr. Buckey’s resignation comes after several days of contract negotiations. Dr. Buckey deeply appreciates the opportunity to have served his community, and the Marblehead Public School Committee thanks Dr. Buckey for his three-plus years of service. The committee wishes him the best as he pursues other opportunities in the field of education.”
The Current has learned that the agreement will pay Buckey his normal salary through December, or approximately $80,500. The School Committee will also pay Buckey the $94,350 specified in his contract for terminating it without cause, bringing the total to nearly $175,000.
Both Buckey and the School Committee have agreed to release one another from any legal claims they may have. However, that release will be voided if either side violates the mutual non-disparagement clause in the agreement.
The announcement culminates two weeks of speculation about Buckey’s future. The School Committee had met twice in executive session (closed to the public) and held one public Zoom meeting, which Fox adjourned after one minute, saying she was acting on advice of counsel.
Long has said the School Committee never revealed why it wanted to oust Buckey.
“We have not been told the basis for this action,” he said last week.
Fox has repeatedly declined to comment on the board’s motives.
It’s unclear who is in charge in the district now. Fox said she named Assistant Superintendent for Finance Michelle Cresta the superintendent designee last week, but it’s not known whether Cresta will serve as interim superintendent this fall. Fox and Cresta have declined to comment.
Buckey subsequently released his own statement: “I arrived in Marblehead during the COVID-19 pandemic’s darkest days; schools were closed. The district was relying on outdated tools, technology, processes and practices. During my tenure,
we made significant progress academically, implementing new curricula in mathematics and
ELA, aligning teaching and learning across our elementary schools, and ensuring that all
students were receiving rich, robust, state-of-the-art instruction. We updated technology to
present-day standards, made significant improvements to safety and established a five-year
plan for success. We implemented iReady, an assessment system, to monitor student progress,
and we have seen growth in scores across the district. We maintained a healthy working
relationship with the teachers’ union, as evidenced by a three-year lack of grievances.”
Buckey’s statement concludes, “Finally, I would like to thank the good people of Marblehead. You have welcomed me and my husband into this community and been allies in the work to make Marblehead great. To my colleagues in town government past and present – Jason Silva and Thatcher Kezer, Jackie Belf-Becker, Moses Grader, Jim Nye, Jason Gilliland, Bob Picariello, Dennis King – among countless other dedicated and tireless Marblehead leaders, I appreciate your collaboration and support as we navigated tumultuous times and issues together.”
In June, the committee gave Buckey his third straight “proficient” rating on his annual review. In 2021, it extended his contract by two years and in 2022, it awarded him a 2.5% raise.
Prior to the agreement being reached, Marblehead resident Cathyann Swindlehurst had filed an Open Meeting law violation complaint against the School Committee, which demanded a public discussion about Buckey’s future.
You can see the full timeline of events in this superintendent controversy HERE.