, Gloucester, MA

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August 13, 2008

Gloucester High Principal Sullivan resigns

Principal Joseph Sullivan, whose interview with Time magazine helped spark a global media frenzy over a possible pregnancy "pact" among some of the 18 pregnant students in his high school, announced yesterday he was resigning and retiring after 10 years in Gloucester.

In a statement released by his attorney, Sullivan said the decision to step down was neither "forced or pressured ... It is mine alone and it is irrevocable."

The resignation letter was dated Monday effective Friday.

But Sullivan essentially said he was scapegoated and "slandered" by Mayor Carolyn Kirk, muzzled by Superintendent Christopher Farmer and isolated and abandoned by the School Committee.

Under those circumstances, he said in his statement, "the job of being the high school principal becomes next to impossible."

Sullivan also reiterated that the answer he gave a Time magazine reporter on June 6, the last day of school before summer vacation, was "direct, truthful and honest."

When Time published its report on the spike in pregnancies at the high school and paraphrased Sullivan as saying there were "high fives" and "plans for baby showers" among some of the pregnant teens, none older than 16, a local concern was transformed into a worldwide competition with television crews arriving from as far away as Germany and Japan and reporters seeking new material, stopping random teens downtown.

Time used the term "pact" and suggested in context the word came from Sullivan, but never actually reported that Sullivan used the word, which seemed to be the trigger for the media eruption. The blogesphere had a field day, moralizing and lecturing the city, its teens and political leadership on the paths to wisdom.

After talking to Time, and except for releasing a June 26 written statement through his attorney, J. Michael Faherty, the former chairman of the School Committee that hired Sullivan in 1998, Sullivan was not heard from again — until yesterday.

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