Westbrook High School’s two assistant principals submitted resignations last month – one to move north and the other to take a job with Biddeford schools.

Howard Jack, who has worked at the high school for 11 years, and Tim Stebbins, who was hired two years ago, notified Superintendent Marc Gousse of their decisions on Aug. 15 and Aug. 27, respectively.

Both were emphatic in resignation letters that their reasons for leaving were entirely personal and that their experiences at Westbrook High School were positive, despite controversy last school year over the overturned suspensions of about 30 student-athletes.

School officials said Jack has moved back to the Orono area, where he is from. Stebbins has accepted a position as the assistant director of Biddeford’s vocational school, the Center of Technology.

Stebbins, who lives in Biddeford, graduated from Biddeford High School and taught social studies there for 23 years, said he has always wanted to return to that school system.

“It was an opportunity to go back home, and I just wanted to take advantage of it,” he said.

Stebbins, who was assistant principal at Bonny Eagle High School for three years before being hired in Westbrook, said he’s “had a really good experience” at Westbrook High School.

“I cannot imagine, ever, being in a professional environment, where you feel respected and validated each and every day, and for that, I will always be grateful,” Stebbins wrote in his resignation letter. “The staff and faculty at Westbrook High School are superb and I have never felt more supported by fellow administrators as I have at Westbrook.”

Jack wrote in an email to high school staff that his resignation was the result of “opportunities that have presented themselves over the summer.” He wouldn’t be more specific when reached by email Monday, other than to stress that he made the decision solely because it was in the best interest of his family.

“I wish all of you the best and want to thank you for being a part of my life; I know I am a better person because of it,” he wrote in the message to his colleagues.

Since the beginning of the school year, Principal Jon Ross has been filling Jack’s role. Stebbins is still working at Westbrook High School and will continue to do so until his replacement starts.

At a School Committee meeting Wednesday, Gousse plans to nominate candidates for both positions: Jennifer Mull-Brooks, currently department chairwoman of alternative learning for Westbrook middle and high schools, and Wendy Harvey, an assistant principal at Leavitt Area High School in Turner.

Gousse said both Jack and Stebbins were upfront about the opportunities that arose for them and he wasn’t surprised by the resignations, which he said were entirely their own decisions.

“These two gentlemen did great things for Westbrook,” Gousse said. “We’re happy for them. We’re sad to see them go.”

Ross said he was particularly impressed by Stebbins’ job filling in as the school’s athletic director after the resignation of Marc Sawyer in May.

Sawyer’s departure followed criticism over how school administrators handled the discipline of student-athletes who attended a drinking party in the fall. Because of a flawed investigation into the incident, the administrators overturned the suspensions of the students, including the son of a school board member and other football players, just before a playoff game.

An outside investigator was hired to look into the matter and found that high school administrators lacked support from the superintendent and school board.

Sawyer wrote in his resignation letter that he decided to leave because of “the incestuous culture of the community, individuals placing their own needs ahead of the overall group, and the inability for many to understand appropriate boundaries.”

School board Chairman Jim Violette said he wasn’t concerned that the reasons behind the resignations of the assistant principals reflected any underlying issues in the school.

“I think both left for what they felt were positive reasons in their lives,” he said.

However, Violette said, having both of them leave at the same time isn’t ideal.

“It leaves a void,” he said.


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