2018-03-09 / Front Page

Board rejects resignation withdrawal request

By Grant McPherson Staff Writer

The board of education meeting scheduled on Thursday, March 1 was relocated and delayed after supporters of Principal David Creech filled council chambers, above. Fire department officials said members of the public had exceeded the maximum occupancy for the building. Other issues of concern expressed during the evening were a change in school start times and a switch to proficiency based grading. (Grant McPherson photos)The board of education meeting scheduled on Thursday, March 1 was relocated and delayed after supporters of Principal David Creech filled council chambers, above. Fire department officials said members of the public had exceeded the maximum occupancy for the building. Other issues of concern expressed during the evening were a change in school start times and a switch to proficiency based grading. (Grant McPherson photos)
A public outpouring of teachers, students and residents was not enough to convince the superintendent and board of education members to accept the rescission of Scarborough High School Principal David Creech’s resignation.

According to a March 2 press release from Creech’s attorney, William Michaud, the board spent an hour and 45 minutes in executive session Thursday, March 1 before it decided to stand by its original decision to accept Creech’s resignation.


Wentworth Cafeteria was near capacity Thursday, March 1 for a board of education meeting that consisted entirely of public comment. Kelli Crosby, Wentworth School principal, said the cafeteria could hold about 500 people. Members of the public attended the meeting in large part to express support for Principal David Creech and to urge the board of education to accept the rescission of his resignation. Wentworth Cafeteria was near capacity Thursday, March 1 for a board of education meeting that consisted entirely of public comment. Kelli Crosby, Wentworth School principal, said the cafeteria could hold about 500 people. Members of the public attended the meeting in large part to express support for Principal David Creech and to urge the board of education to accept the rescission of his resignation. The deliberation came after more than 100 members of the public gathered in council chambers of the Scarborough Municipal Building to express support for Creech during the public comments section of Thursday’s meeting. Due to occupancy limits, fire department officials relocated the meeting to the Wentworth School cafeteria and postponed the start time 45 minutes. Members of the public spoke for more than an hour about a lack of support they felt from board members and the desire for change.

“Mr. Creech is extremely grateful and humbled by the support of Scarborough students, parents and citizens during this trying and unpleasant time,” Michaud wrote. “We are disappointed that the superintendent has chosen not to agree to the rescission of Mr. Creech’s Feb. 16, 2018 resignation, which was submitted under duress … Ms. Kukenberger’s statement released on Feb. 26, 2018, asserting that there are, ‘relevant facts – some known to the community and some not,’ might be interpreted to suggest that there are reasons for her decisions beyond petty, professional disagreements. Mr. Creech deserves to know the exact reasons why his employment is in jeopardy.”

Multiple attempts to reach Superintendent Julie Kukenberger and board of education chairman Donna Beeley following the meeting were unsuccessful.

Prior to the public comment portion of Thursday’s meeting, Beeley said Creech resigned on his own accord and the board did not play a role in his decision to do so.

“Pursuant to Maine law, if the superintendent were to recommend the non-renewal of a principal the board would meet (to discuss) whether to non-renew that principal,” Beeley said. “If the board votes to non-renew a principal, a principal with more than two years experience within the department may request a hearing before the board. The board would then conduct a hearing and make a final decision.

“In this instance, none of the above has occurred. There has been no recommendation to non-renew Mr. Creech, no vote to non-renew and no hearing. Mr. Creech resigned. His resignation was irrevocable and he immediately announced his resignation to the school community with no action at all by the board.”

Michaud also wrote that he and Creech submitted a request to meet with the board of education on Feb. 27 to discuss Creech’s employment status, but the request was denied. Creech’s last day is scheduled to be June 30.

Elizabeth Peters, junior class president at Scarborough High School, spoke before board members and the public in support of Creech. More than 20 people spoke during public comments and audience members punctuated each speaker with applause, several often rising to their feet to do so.

“We strongly believe Principal Creech belongs with us,” she said. “He has been amazing, hearing all of our issues, desires, happiness and sadness. He’s there for us when we need him. He brings energy to Scarborough High School and allows us, also teach- ers, not just students, to feel we can be heard and say what we think. We’re not shut down with, ‘You’re just a teenager.’ He’s tried to create a rapport with each of his students. Not all principals are involved and invigorated. There are just no words for how he is. We stand behind him because he stands behind us. We support him because he supports us. He makes me and everyone else feel like we matter. We do matter and we’re not going anywhere.”

Cameron Jury, another Scarborough junior, echoed Peters’ sentiment.

“I am truly honored and blessed to be lucky enough to have Creech as a principal for my time in high school,” she said. “His positive energy every single day means the world to students who are struggling to get through a rough day. Time and time again he’s fought for students and now it’s our time to fight for him no matter what. He has been the most kind administrator I’ve had a chance to work with. I am asking you to hear our voices and listen to students. We will only continue to standby our principal.”

Prior to the board’s decision, Michaud said the board is not required by law to accept Creech’s resignation.

“They probably are on strong footing if they said, ‘We don’t have to permit the rescission and we’re not going to,’” Michaud said. “But they can if they wish. This man has proven himself in the community and it would be a terrible outcome if he were to leave.”

Michaud, who served as Scarborough superintendent from 2001 to 2006, said he worked in education for 30 years before attending law school and never saw the kind of support for an individual that Creech has received.

“The outpouring I saw tonight both from parents, students and staff really is remarkable,” he said. “It speaks to the commitment this man has for this community and more than that, the connections he’s formed with this community.”

While Creech did not speak during the meeting, he attended and after the session, thanked those who spoke on his behalf. He said he and Michaud would continue to explore options for discussion with the board. In the meantime, Creech said he would continue to work at the high school same as before.

“We have great students and that doesn’t happen by accident,” he said. “We have supportive families and great teachers that care about our students and do a great job. I’m so proud of our school. I’ve said this earlier, I love our kids. I love our staff. We collectively do great things and that’s something I’m proud of. I don’t know how to find the words anymore because of how much it means to us, other than I’ll never forget this support. My wife, daughters and I are so thankful and appreciative.”

Staff Writer Grant McPherson can be reached at news@scarboroughleader.com

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