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Local News

November 26, 2013

Hunt to step down at Salem Academy

SALEM — Rachel Hunt, the founder and head of school at Salem Academy Charter School for the past decade, will step down at the end of the school year.

Hunt, 40, made the announcement yesterday at a staff meeting.

Hunt said she has no immediate plans but will take the summer off before making a decision about her future.

“I’m going to relax,” she said yesterday. “I will take a step back. ... This has been a really incredible but completely consuming experience — in a positive way. I want to be able to personally and professionally take a step back and reflect and then kind of take my next step forward.”

She said she is leaving at a time when the school has a strong foundation and is ready to move on without her.

The announcement comes just weeks before Hunt will take a seat on the Salem School Committee, after topping the ticket in the November municipal election, her first run for elective office.

Hunt said there is no connection between the decision to leave the charter school and her pending political career. Before running for office, Hunt checked with the state Ethics Commission and was told there is no apparent conflict between the two roles. The state board has also given an advisory opinion to that effect.

Salem Academy Charter School is an independent public school in Shetland Park with 372 students in grades 6 to 12. It has its own board of trustees, budget and staff and is not part of the district school system.

As a member of the school board, Hunt will help set policies for the district schools, which have more than 4,300 students in 10 schools.

Salem Academy was awarded a charter by the state when Hunt was only 30 years old. The former Collins Middle School Spanish teacher was the driving force behind the school and has led it since 2003. During that time, the number of students has grown dramatically, and the school has been recognized for academic achievement.

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