When students return to Bradford Elementary after the extended coronavirus-related closure, they will be greeted by a new leadership team, Superintendent Margaret Marotta said.
Principal Louise Perry, who came under fire in February from the Haverhill Education Association teachers union, has been “on administrative leave” from the school and is not expected to return once it reopens. Her last day at work was March 6.
Perry remains on administrative leave while the details of the remainder of her contract are worked out, Marotta said.
“Our search for a principal will be one of an anticipated opening,” she said.
Marotta said Perry will be replaced by Cathy Giles from New Hampshire’s Seaside Educational Consultants. Giles will act as interim principal until a new leader is chosen, Marotta said in a letter sent to families of the school's students last week.
Nicole McGrain will continue to serve as Bradford Elementary’s assistant principal.
“It is a chaotic and frightening time with many changes and moving parts. I apologize for not getting this letter out sooner,” the superintendent’s email said.
Word of Perry’s change in employment status comes six weeks after the teachers union issued a vote of “no confidence” in her leadership abilities in a scathing letter released via Haverhill Education Association President Anthony Parolisi on Feb. 14.
In the teachers union letter, which Parolisi said was collaboratively written by Bradford Elementary union members, Perry is accused of making “racist and culturally insensitive comments” toward or in the presence of members of the school community. The letter also accused Perry of making derogatory comments about students with disabilities.
Perry has not publicly commented on the letter since its release, despite repeated requests from The Eagle-Tribune.
Once the letter was released, Marotta hired Giles to assist with conducting interviews with staff at the school to investigate the reported allegations. The district’s leadership team spent several days meeting with educators confidentially to hear their concerns and their investigation has concluded, Marotta said last week.
“We take our responsibility to have a positive and productive culture and climate in our schools very seriously,” she said.
Parolisi called Perry’s separation from the school a “big win” for Bradford Elementary students, staff and families.
“The situation there had become untenable and I’m sure there will be much relief knowing Ms. Perry is not going to return,” he said.
The union president said Giles is a welcome addition to the school.
“The members report she’s been friendly, approachable and knowledgeable,” Parolisi said of Giles.