SCARBOROUGH — A demonstration is planned Monday morning, Feb. 26, to protest the sudden resignation last week of Scarborough High School Principal David Creech.
Creech submitted his resignation Feb. 16, effective at the end of the school year, amid renewed discussion about a district-wide change in school start times, set to begin in August.
Creech has not responded to email requests for comment on his resignation, but parents have speculated his support for teachers who oppose the changes led to his resignation.
A Facebook group of parents, students and staff opposed to the start-time change said Monday’s protest is slated for 7 a.m. at the Town Office. A petition urging the School Board not to accept Creech’s resignation is also circulating online.
Creech’s wife, Michele, posted on the Facebook page Feb. 17, asserting Creech was forced to resign. She said Creech has been advised not to make a statement, but said their family has been humbled and overwhelmed by community support.
Earlier in the week, Creech told the Portland Press Herald he is “very proud of Scarborough High School. I love our students and staff. I greatly appreciate SHS families and the support given by the Scarborough community. It has been an honor and privilege to serve as principal of Scarborough High School for the past five years and I am sorry that my service to the school will have to end this way.”
He has been the school principal since 2013.
High school teaching staff requested a meeting with the School Board to discuss Creech’s resignation, but the board declined to meet Feb. 19.
In a letter, staff at the high school said in part, “the teachers at SHS stand united behind David Creech as its principal, now and into the future. Given the overwhelming support from SHS teachers, students, parents and staff for Principal Creech, it is clear that the only acceptable solution to this crisis is for the School Board to reject his resignation.
“We believe it is time to begin the process of determining how our superintendent has become so out of step with the wishes of the Scarborough school community. We stand ready to work together to help heal from this painful and unnecessary crisis. We ask that the School Board takes the proper steps to bring this to an end.”
School Board Chairwoman Donna Beeley, in an email Tuesday, said, “While the board appreciates and understands the desire on the part of some HS leaders to meet with the Board, it would be inappropriate for the Board to do so. They do, however, have an appropriate process in which to communicate through their union representative.”
Beeley did not respond to an email asking for the reason behind Creech’s resignation.
Superintendent of Schools Julie Kukenberger accepted Creech’s resignation and, in an emailed statement Monday, said she cannot discuss his decision.
“I understand that this news may be surprising to some of our community members. This a personnel matter, therefore, it would be inappropriate for me to discuss the details. Please know that our students’ best interests are always at the center of our work,” said.
At a School Board workshop Feb. 15, teachers’ union President Justin Stebbins said 106 members in the Scarborough Education Association do not support the scheduling change and are dubious about the veracity of the research that has informed the board’s decision.
Members are anxious about the impact of another partially realized plan that will create hardships for many involved, Stebbins said, adding that members overwhelmingly do not support the change.
“The association believes it’s not the right time to implement this dramatic shift in start times,” Stebbins said.
Beeley, meanwhile, suggested there may still be room for compromise.
After the Feb. 15 workshop she said although she cannot speak on behalf of the board, she hopes solutions can be reached about questions on how the start time change will affect students, such as vocational students’ schedules.
At this point, she said, the board is in listening mode, although there has been no vote to delay or reverse the start time change unanimously approved by the board last year.
She said a meeting on the topic will be held March 12 at the Wentworth School.