The School Committee and Superintendent Dr. Raleigh Buchanan reached a “mutual agreement” in executive session Thursday night that marks the end of Buchanan’s tenure as superintendent after less than a year.
The exact circumstances surrounding Buchanan’s departure are unclear and School Committee Chairman Alexa McCloughan said it might be as long as 14 days until the details of the agreement are released.
Buchanan and makes $169,500 in his first year. The School Committee and were scheduled to discuss his evaluation on Thursday night - Buchanan left before that ever happened.
The board met with Buchanan, along with its attorney Naomi Stonberg and Buchanan’s attorney, Michael Long, in executive session for about one hour and 45 minutes on Thursday night.
The executive session came before the committee was scheduled to discuss the superintendent’s evaluation, but after the unspecified agreement was reached between the committee and Buchanan, the committee voted to remove the evaluation from the agenda.
The committee emerged from executive and Stonberg read a brief statement explaining that the School Committee and Buchanan had reached a mutual agreement that Buchanan's "employement relationship comes to an end" and McCloughan said the committee would have no further comment.
“We’re not taking comments or questions,” McCloughan said.
Buchanan was not sitting in his usual spot – behind his nametag – after the executive session.
Outside the meeting, Long deferred comment to Stonberg’s short statement, which he said "accurately characterized the situation.”
When asked if Buchanan would show up for work on Friday, Long said: “I think he may.”
Initially, the Boards of Selectmen from both towns planned to meet at 9 a.m. at Wenham Town Hall for an emergency joint meeting to discuss the action. Attorneys later concluded that the meeting did not constitute an emergency under the law so, instead, Hamilton Town Manager Michael Lombardo, Hamilton Board of Selectmen Chairman Jennifer Scuteri, Wenham Town Administrator Jeff Chelgren and Wenham Board of Selectmen Chairman Molly Martins will meet instead, according to Scuteri.
A few more details emerged several minutes after Stonberg’s statement; Hamilton Selectman Marc Johnson stepped before the committee to inquire about Buchanan.
“We’re completely in the dark,” Johnson said, latter adding, “We’re just confused on this side of the table.”
Committee members added few more details. Nobody said which committee members were in support of the mutual agreement and which ones were opposed. Committee member Don Gallant said attorneys are drawing up the agreement and that Buchanan has seven days to back out of it.