Scarborough High School students hold placards during a rally in support of Principal David Creech, who resigned amid controversy over school start times.

SCARBOROUGH — Scarborough High School Principal David Creech has rescinded a resignation his attorney says was forced by the superintendent of schools for unknown reasons.

Surrounded by hundreds of students and parents who gathered Monday morning to protest his removal, Creech said he wants to keep his job. However, the principal’s lawyer said Creech also had been told the school district would not renew his contract.

Creech submitted his resignation on Feb. 16, a day after Superintendent Julie Kukenberger called him into a meeting and told him he was no longer a good fit for the district, said William Michaud, the attorney representing Creech.

“He was threatened that if he did not resign, (Kukenberger) was not going to renew his contract for the following year,” Michaud said Monday morning. “He was astonished. It was unexpected.”

Neither Creech nor the superintendent nor the school board has explained what led to the demand that he resign.

Kukenberger released a statement Monday afternoon that did not shed any new light on the conflict, but said she respected the voices of students and others.

“Demonstrations of this kind are a cornerstone of democracy and those who participated this morning should be commended for their respectful activism,” she wrote. “I hope that everyone, including those with the most strongly held views, will understand that there are many facets to every issue and the Scarborough School Board and I are committed to understanding all of the relevant facts – some known to the community and some not – before making decisions we feel are in the best interest of our students and the school system.”

Geri Adler, parent of a student at Scarborough High School, hands out placards in support of Principal David Creech.

More than 200 students gathered with community members outside town hall Monday morning to protest the departure of Creech, who has been principal for five years and is popular with students and parents. At times, students chanted and called for the superintendent’s resignation.

Michaud said Creech initially felt he had to resign, but after talking with his family and friends decided he did not want to leave the district. Creech and his attorney met last week with school officials and an attorney for the school board, but no compromise was reached, said Michaud, who is a former Scarborough superintendent. Over the weekend, Creech and Michaud sent a letter to Kukenberger and the school board rescinding Creech’s resignation.

“It’s really hard to find a good high school principal and he’s a good one,” Michaud said of his client. “At this point, David is really committed to the people of Scarborough and wants to stay there. He feels this is an unfair situation.”

Kukenberger and Board of Education Chairwoman Donna Beeley last week released separate written statements saying that Kukenberger had accepted Creech’s resignation and that they were acting in the best interest of students. They declined to talk more specifically about the resignation, saying it is a private personnel matter.

Kukenberger and Beeley did not respond to multiple requests for comment Monday morning.

After his resignation, Creech experienced an outpouring of support from students and parents who started a #WeStandWithCreech social media campaign. More than 1,400 people signed an online petition demanding the school board reject his resignation.

After rallying for 25 minutes outside town hall, the students walked to school together. Creech greeted them at the front door as he does every day.

“I don’t have words to come up with to express how much I appreciate the support,” Creech said as students filed past him into the school. “The support has been overwhelming. I love this community. I love this school, my staff and students and I’m proud to be the principal.”

Scarborough High School Principal David Creech, who resigned suddenly amid controversy, receives high-fives from students as they enter the building Monday morning. Students, faculty members and parents turned out by the hundreds to rally in support of the principal.

The turmoil surrounding Creech comes amid growing controversy over a pending change in school start times. The principal’s position on the change isn’t clear, but parents and community groups are connecting the divisive issue to his resignation, which would be effective June 30.

Creech’s wife, Michelle Bellfy Creech, posted statements on Facebook after her husband’s resignation that were shared to a public page titled “Scarborough School Supporters Advocating for a Start Times Plan Compromise.” She said “he was forced to resign by the SI (superintendent).”

She also said her husband would like to make a statement to the public but has been advised not to.

Creech referred questions about his situation to his attorney.

Claire Merrill, the student organizer of the rally, said students are confused and angry about the status of their principal, who is popular with students.

“Mr. Creech has been the most active and involved principal I’ve ever had,” she said. “He’s a real active voice in helping students be heard.”

Three police officers were outside town hall during the rally to direct traffic and control the crowd.

Last summer, Creech was named one of three a finalists for the principal position at Falmouth High School, according to The Forecaster. Peter Badalament, who had worked as a high school principal in Massachusetts, won the job.

Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: grahamgillian

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