The Regional School Unit 21 board of directors voted unanimously this week to appoint an interim superintendent to oversee the district for the next school year.

Maryann Perry, who retired last year as superintendent of a Massachusetts school system, will start working full-time in the Kennebunk-based district on Sept. 30 but will attend some meetings and work remotely for the next few weeks.

The board decided to hire an interim superintendent after former Superintendent Katie Hawes left the district in June to take a job at the University of Southern Maine.

Hawes left after a tumultuous year in which the district covering Arundel, Kennebunk and Kennebunkport dealt with fallout from a former teacher’s complaint alleging she was subject to retaliation for reporting racist incidents at Kennebunk High School.

The board voted unanimously without discussion to appoint Perry to the interim post. She will be paid $130,000 to serve as superintendent through June 30, 2020, according to her contract.

Perry has worked in public education for more than 30 years, starting as a special education preschool teacher and retiring as superintendent of schools in Marblehead, Massachusetts.

“She has worked throughout her career to support students, teachers, parents and communities to ensure all children have a solid foundation for success,” said RSU 21 board Chairwoman Mary Beth Luce at Monday’s meeting. “As an experienced educator, Maryann understands the opportunities and challenges of being a leader and teacher in today’s schools.”

Luce said Wednesday that Perry was one of three finalists considered by the board during its search. Luce said she would not comment further because the board plans to release a statement about the hiring later in the week.

Perry announced her retirement from Marblehead Public Schools last year amid a budget controversy and allegations of mismanagement, according to the Salem News. Her decision to step down came after an audit determined she purposely withheld nearly $600,000 in special education tuition bills for several months before paying them with 2019 funds, a violation of state finance laws and regulations, the newspaper reported.

Perry, who recently earned her doctorate from the University of New England, attended the school board meeting and briefly addressed board members after their vote.

“Interim superintendents sometimes just turn on the lights and open the door. That’s not me,” she said. “I want to roll my sleeves up. I want to help you transition to your next movement. I want to get involved in your initiatives.”


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