WINTHROP — The School Committee has hired a former Scarborough administrator to serve as interim principal of Winthrop High School this school year, filling a position that opened earlier this summer.
David Creech started the job Aug. 16, after his predecessor, Sarah Landry, spent one school year as principal. In June, Landry accepted a job as the principal of Sylvio Gilbert Elementary School in Augusta.
Last February, Creech helped spark an uproar in Scarborough when he resigned as principal at Scarborough High School, then claimed that the district’s superintendent had forced him to resign or be fired, according to reports by the Portland Press Herald. Parents and teachers in Scarborough who backed Creech expressed dismay about that outcome.
Creech did not respond to a phone call seeking comment Monday.
On Tuesday, he plans to hold an informal meet-and-greet with families at 5:30 p.m. in the Winthrop High School cafeteria.
Cornelia Brown, interim superintendent of the Winthrop School Department, described Creech as “an outstanding educational leader.”
He has a master’s degree in education leadership from the University of Southern Maine and has worked as a mathematics teacher at schools around southern Maine, according to Brown. He also has coached basketball, cross country, and track and field. For the past 17 years, he’s worked as a high school administrator.
He will receive $76,000 for the 189 days that he works for the Winthrop School Department, according to his contract.
“He is an articulate and passionate supporter of secondary education,” Brown said in an interview. “He is a strong student advocate. He has a considerable amount of experience at the secondary level, as a teacher and administrator and coach, and he’s just an all-round great guy. We’re really lucky to have him.”
The School Committee unanimously voted to hire Creech on Aug. 15. Virginia Geyer, chairwoman of the committee, did not respond to phone call Monday.
The committee originally offered to hire another person for a permanent principal’s job, but after that person declined the offer, the committee decided to advertise for an interim principal, Brown said. The advertisement attracted four applicants.
When Creech left his previous job, it divided the Scarborough community, according to a series of newspaper reports.
Many families came to the principal’s defense, and his lawyer suggested that he was being forced out because he backed staff members who disagreed with new district policies on proficiency-based learning and school start times.
“He cares about you as an individual, not just as a piece of the school system. …” one student said last spring, in support of the principal.
At one point, Creech unsuccessfully tried to rescind his resignation.
The district’s superintendent, Julie Kukenberger, and Scarborough school board members declined to speak in great detail about the events leading to Creech’s resignation, citing the confidential nature of personnel matters.
However, Kukenberger has disputed parts of Creech’s account about the conversation that led to his resignation. She told the Portland Press Herald that the conversation didn’t happen out of the blue and that they previously had discussed some problems.
In Winthrop, Brown said she was not concerned by the circumstances under which Creech left his Scarborough job, and she referred to the Winthrop School Committee’s unanimous vote as evidence of the group’s support for him.
To search for a new principal, the district convened a special committee that included Brown, a local parent, two teachers, another principal from the district, and a member of the School Committee.
Officials were impressed by Creech during his interview, and his references spoke highly of him, Brown said.