Susan Ketch gets a hug after being appointed interim principal of Scarborough High School on Tuesday for the coming school year. A former music and theater teacher who has worked for the district for 34 years, Ketch has been a part-time assistant principal since 1992 and assumed the job full time in 1997.

SCARBOROUGH — A longtime assistant principal has been tapped to serve as interim principal of Scarborough High School in the coming school year and help bring stability to a district that remains in turmoil following the controversial resignation of the outgoing principal.

The school board voted 4-0 Tuesday to appoint Susan Ketch, a Scarborough resident, to be interim principal for the 2018-19 school year, disappointing several people at the meeting who had asked the board to retain Principal David Creech.

Ketch’s reassignment comes after a search committee ended its work two weeks ago without choosing a permanent replacement from four candidates who were interviewed for the principal’s job.

A former music and theater teacher, Ketch became a part-time assistant principal in 1992 and assumed the job full time in 1997.

“I think this is a wise move,” said board member Jacquelyn Perry, who noted Ketch’s experience, leadership ability and creativity.

The school district has been divided since Creech resigned suddenly in February, effective June 30, then said Superintendent Julie Kukenberger forced him to resign or be fired.

Kukenberger and the school board rejected Creech’s request to withdraw his resignation letter, triggering a townwide dispute that led to the recall of three board members in May and persists as Creech’s departure nears.

Susan Ketch

Several people spoke before the board appointed Ketch, all of them asking that Creech be retained as a way to end the dissension.

“I think the solution is obvious,” said Matt Sither, a Scarborough native and parent who suggested that keeping Creech would help restore community trust in school officials.

Renee Richardson, a band teacher at the high school, said she was sad to leave school this year feeling that she “had no reason to come back” and she urged the board to retain Creech as a sign of compromise.

Richardson later said she was “very disappointed” in the board’s decision, but she said Ketch is “a good person.”

David Cleary, a leader of the effort to keep Creech, said the search committee’s inability to find a replacement showed that retaining the current principal was the right thing to do. Cleary fled the meeting as the board was about to vote on Ketch’s appointment, saying, “You should all be ashamed of yourselves.”

The district received 19 applications for Creech’s job, including 15 people who completed the application process and 12 who were fully certified for the position, Kukenberger said.

A 14-member search committee, including school employees, community members and students, interviewed four candidates two weeks ago, said school board member Leanne Kazilionis, who served on the search committee.

Kazilionis told the board last week that each candidate had “something unique to offer,” but the committee concluded that it couldn’t recommend a candidate to be brought back for a second interview.

Rather than reopen the search, the committee unanimously recommended that the job be filled on an interim basis by a current employee of the school district, Kazilionis said.

Kukenberger said there was a desire to give the high school some time to stabilize in the wake of controversy that has consumed the community for several months and left the school board with only four members through November.

With 34 years of experience in the district, including more than 25 as a high school administrator, Ketch is well-qualified for the interim assignment, Kukenberger said.

“(Ketch) has assisted in the smooth transitions of many new administrators at the high school,” the superintendent said. “She is always empathetic and compassionate, and staff, students, families and administrators respect and admire her caring and professional attitude.”

After the meeting, Kukenberger described Ketch as a consistent and supportive administrator who enables students and other staff members to succeed.

“She truly values and supports all learners,” Kukenberger said.

Outside Town Hall, several people congratulated and hugged Ketch, including people who had encouraged the board to keep Creech.

Ketch said bringing stability to the high school would be her No. 1 goal. “I’m well aware of the people and the issues and I’m here to work and to serve,” Ketch said.

Also on Tuesday, the school board held a second executive session to discuss Kukenberger’s performance under a contract that runs through June 30, 2019.

Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: KelleyBouchard

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