Principal resigns 2 weeks before school

  • New Hingham Elementary School principal Rosemary Larkin holds the phone for sixth-graders Dorothy Duval, center, and Jaycee Beaulieu so they can read the morning announcements over the P.A. system on the first day of classes at the Chesterfield school in 2016. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Friday, August 18, 2017

CHESTERFIELD — The principal of New Hingham Regional Elementary has resigned after five years at the school, which serves the towns of Chesterfield and Goshen.

In a letter to students’ families dated Aug. 12, Rosemary Larkin said she is relocating to eastern Massachusetts, where she will be closer to her oldest daughter. School Superintendent Craig Jurgensen said the school will hire an interim principal for this school year. The job will likely be posted in late fall or early winter for a permanent principal to be hired next summer, Jurgensen added.

“This was a very difficult decision for me and my time spent at New Hingham has been a rewarding experience,” Larkin said in the letter. “I did not take the decision lightly, but it did come up very fast.”

Larkin, who had previously worked as a microbiologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston, told the Gazette in an email that she took a new position as a “district science coach,” but did not specify where.

Larkin’s time at the school was marked by some controversy after one parent, Jim McSweeney, led a campaign to oust her. 

McSweeney staged a one-man protest in front of the school with his horse, calling for Larkin’s ouster. He also circulated a petition last spring, signed by about 50 people, accusing Larkin of “failure of leadership.”

The events culminated in a public forum where some parents expressed frustration over feeling unwelcome in the school, while other parents and teachers stood behind Larkin. When reached by phone on Friday, McSweeney again claimed Larkin showed a “failure of leadership,” but did not offer specifics.

Larkin did not immediately respond to questions about those tensions, and whether they influenced her decision. 

Jurgensen, the superintendent, said those issues might have contributed in some way. Speaking of McSweeney and his accusations, the superintendent said, “It was hard to find out what the issues were, but they took on a life of their own and brought out some very difficult feelings, and a need to look at how the school defines its place in the community.”

But in her email to the Gazette, Larkin made no mention of those issues. She said that, after her children moved away from the area, it opened up possibilities to combine her science background with a love for teaching and learning.

“The connections I have made with community members, students, staff and district colleagues have been very rewarding and I have gained so much during my time at New Hingham and Hampshire Regional,” she said.

Dusty Christensen can be reached at dchristensen@gazettenet.com.