Mayor Arthur Vigeant is looking into allegations from students that Superintendent Anthony Pope behaved unprofessionally and attempted to intimidate students who were protesting the sudden departure of a popular assistant principal.
"I am in the process of reviewing the incident from Jan. 27, 2012 at Marlborough High School," Vigeant said during Tuesday's School Committee meeting, reading a statement he said was drafted after consulting the committee's legal counsel.
Vigeant's disclosure comes two months after two students voiced complaints to the School Committee about the way Pope acted during a sit-in at MHS protesting the of longtime assistant principal Adam Bakr.
Bakr last worked at the school in December. The district has not said why he left or whether he'll return, citing personnel privacy concerns. In the months since, hundreds of students have signed online petitions, joined Facebook groups and staged sit-ins at the schools to ask for answers and plead for his return.
"When the review is complete, I will discuss it with the School Committee and Dr. Pope and will make any information available that is legally available," Vigeant said.
Teachers and students alike were a strong visible presence at Tuesday's meeting: More than a dozen teachers wore bright orange T-shirts that read "Got Respect," while an equal number of students handed out hand-drawn placards with messages such as "Bring Bakr Back," and "Bakr is MHS."
They were largely a silent presence, however, with no one in the audience asking to be recognized during the public comment period. Vigeant's statement was met with a brief burst of applause.
In other business Tuesday night, the committee introduced incoming Marlborough High School Principal Craig Hardimon, currently principal of the R.J. Grey Junior High School in the Acton-Boxborough district. Hardimon said he would spend a good deal of his first 100 days on the job listening to students, faculty, teachers and members of the community before starting to decide on any changes.
The board also voted to accept a $10,000 state grant that will enable the planning of a K-5 Science Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) school. Pope said an 11-member committee plans to spend the upcoming school year planning the new school, with hopes to open the school in time for the 2013-2014 school year.
By adding an elementary component to the existing and popular offerings, the new school would give Marlborough students the option of pursuing a STEM curriculum from kindergarten through graduation, Pope noted.