Students and faculty are voicing support for longtime Hingham High School principal Paula Girouard McCann after school officials refused to allow her to rescind her retirement request following the death of her husband.
“The request should have been a no-brainer,” wrote Hingham High senior Zach Lytle, who expressed his view in a letter to The Hingham Journal and along with other students attended a recent School Committee meeting seeking answers.
Another letter to the local newspaper was signed by more than 100 Hingham High faculty and staff. “It is mind-boggling to consider that a contract extension for Dr. Girouard McCann would not be in the best interest of the students, school, and community,” it stated.
Matthew Fisher, who taught English at Hingham High from 2007 to 2011, also wrote to the newspaper to express support for his former boss.
“I don’t know if Dr. Girouard McCann is the greatest administrator in the Commonwealth, but I do know this: She is the greatest principal for Hingham High School. You will not find a better person for the job.”
He called on Hingham residents to “put a stop to this.”
Girouard McCann, who has been the high school principal in Hingham for 17 years, had asked last spring to retire at the end of the 2016-2017 school year, but then in the fall asked that her request be rescinded after her husband, Frank, died in August. She said she was not told why her later request was denied.
“I just think the School Committee felt it was time for a change in leadership,” she said Monday in a phone interview.
Girouard McCann, 64, said her husband’s death had brought a major change to her life and she preferred not to have another — retirement — this year.
In an interview Monday, Hingham schools Superintendent Dorothy H. Galo said Girouard McCann submitted a retirement letter and signed a one-year contract with a provision that it could not be withdrawn.
Galo said the school system has since received applications for the principal’s job and community input had been sought in the search for Girouard McCann’s replacement.
“Certainly, we are going to miss her,” Galo said.
School Committee chairwoman Liza O’Reilly said Tuesday she was prohibited by policy and by law from discussing the personnel matter. “I realize it’s frustrating for the community,” she said.
O’Reilly said she was a little surprised by the community reaction. She said committee members knew for some time that Girouard McCann was retiring and kept it confidential out of respect for her, allowing her to decide when to make it public. “We did our job,” she said.
Jean Lang can be reached at email@example.com.