Former Gloucester High School principal Dr. Joseph Sullivan has been named interim principal at a Wakefield parochial school.

Four days after retiring as a public school administrator, former Gloucester High School principal Joseph Sullivan was hired as the new principal of St. Joseph's School, a Catholic kindergarten through eighth-grade school in Wakefield.

Sullivan, who lives in Wakefield, was contacted about a job in his home parish last weekend after his abrupt resignation from Gloucester High School went into effect last Friday, the Rev. Ron Barker, pastor of St. Joseph's Parish, said yesterday.

"He has wonderful qualities, qualifications and knowledge and we would be foolish not to use his experience," Barker said. "We are excited because he knows the parents and the kids here."

Sullivan was hired Tuesday on an interim basis "at the moment," Barker said. He said no plans exist at the school to identify a permanent principal. The previous principal of St. Joseph's School, Maria Morris, resigned at the end of the last school year.

Barker declined to say how much Sullivan is earning in his new job.

Calls to Sullivan at St. Joseph's were not returned.

Sullivan resigned from Gloucester High School after comments he made to the media about a group of girls actively looking to have children at the high school drew scrutiny.

He expressed concerns about proposals to provide contraceptives to students at the high school health clinic without parental notification.

The Roman Catholic Church is opposed to the use of birth control.

In his resignation letter to Superintendent Christopher Farmer, Sullivan said he was retiring from "public school administration" because of a lack of support from Farmer and Mayor Carolyn Kirk in the wake of the media frenzy over the spike in teen pregnancy at Gloucester High School.

He said Farmer had excluded him from deliberations about new school policies on teen pregnancy and Kirk slandered him at a news conference.

Sullivan, who was principal at Gloucester High School for 10 years before stepping down, said in a letter accompanying his resignation that he had been eligible for retirement with full pension more than two years ago.

State law prohibits public employees who retire from taking another public job that would, when combined with their pension, allow them to make more than they would have made by not retiring.

The laws do not have any affect on employment by private schools.

St. Joseph's, funded by the Boston Archdiocese, has an annual enrollment of around 210 students served by 14 lay teachers.

Barker, who said he has known Sullivan for several years, said he was not concerned that the controversy surrounding Sullivan in Gloucester as a result of the spike in pregnancies would have any negative impact on St. Joseph's

"We are not concerned; we just want to share in his gifts and talents," Barker said. The pregnancy discussion "has nothing to do with Wakefield."

Sullivan, who is either 66 or 67 according to his attorney, Michael Faherty, previously served as vice principal of Wakefield High School for 17 years, from 1977 to 1995. A graduate of Malden Catholic High School, Sullivan also served as principal of Carver High School and as a principal of the Massachusetts Correctional Institute's Concord facility.

Barker served in Gloucester as a priest at St. Peter's Church on Sayward Street from 1975 to 1981, before it was closed as a part of a parish consolidation.

On Tuesday, Gloucester Public Schools announced that Sullivan would be replaced on an interim basis with his second-in-command at the high school, William Goodwin.

Patrick Anderson can be reached at panderson@gloucestertimes.com.

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