GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Latest Cape Ann News

August 14, 2008

Editorial: Sullivan's exit spotlights officials' mishandling of pregnancy issue

The pregnancy spike this past spring at Gloucester High School has claimed another casualty: Principal Joseph Sullivan.

Indeed, Sullivan's departure at the end of the week — he has resigned effective this Friday — is a casualty, not so much for him, since he is of retirement age, but for the School Department and the city overall. It also adds another measure of chaos to a school, and a school system, that desperately needs stability — and it didn't have to happen..

Sullivan, who has led Gloucester High for the past 10 years, was not universally admired. No school principal is. No administrator who has to make tough decisions every day will be without critics or enemies after a decade.

But by most objective accounts, he was doing a good job in a tough environment, bringing a firm but compassionate hand to a school that needs structure. And he had the support of the city and school leadership — that is, until his comments to a reporter brought unwanted attention to the city.

In an interview with Time magazine, Sullivan said that a number of students — all 16 or younger — had celebrated with their friends when their pregnancy tests came back positive. The story paraphrased Sullivan saying there were "high fives" and "plans for baby showers" among some of the teens. But Time also reported that Sullivan had said the students had formed a "pact" to become pregnant together, and then raise their children together. That word prompted an international media firestorm that Mayor Carolyn Kirk and Superintendent Christopher Farmer clearly blamed on Sullivan.

Sullivan has said he doesn't recall using the term "pact," but then again, he was never really given the chance to confirm, deny or explain. When the media storm broke, Sullivan — like all other school personnel — was ordered by Farmer not to comment. He was barred from participating in any of the multiple press conferences. Mayor Kirk spoke for him, saying Sullivan's memory was "foggy," and that he couldn't recall what he had told the Time reporter.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest Cape Ann News

Pictures of the Week
Your news, your way
Comments Tracker
AP Video Network
Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Palestinians and Israeli Soldiers Clash Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kerry: No Deal Yet on 7-Day Gaza Truce Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Gaza Residents Mourn Dead Amid Airstrikes Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp Cumberbatch Brings 'Penguins' to Comic-Con Raw: Air Algerie Crash Site in Mali Power to Be Restored After Wash. Wildfire Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive