Pacifico leaving Salem High after just 3 months

Salem High School's interim principal, Vittoria Pacifico, has resigned after three months, saying she has accepted another job. (File photo)

SALEM — Vittoria Pacifico is out as the interim principal of Salem High School, after taking a permanent job in another district.

Acting Superintendent Kate Carbone announced Tuesday afternoon that Pacifico "submitted a resignation letter on May 31 and, at the same time, shared that she was a finalist for a position elsewhere and has since accepted that job."

"On behalf of the Salem High School community, I want to thank Dr. Pacifico for her work with the students and staff of Salem High School over the past three months," Carbone wrote in her letter. "Her last day of service at the school will be June 30, 2019."

Speaking with The Salem News, Carbone said Pacifico filled a brief yet valuable role at the high school.

"She came in and did a good job," Carbone said. "She pulled the faculty together, built relationships with the students and really steered the school to a successful ending of a school year, and we're grateful that she was with us for that short period of time."

In the letter, Carbone outlined a process to search for a new interim principal — a process that starts today with a survey on the school district website.

A review team to screen candidates will be formed by June 14, Carbone said, and the job will be posted online by Tuesday night. Interviews and reference checks would be conducted between June 26 and 28, with an appointment to be made by July 1. A meet-and-greet would be scheduled for July 10.

Pacifico came to Salem High in mid-March after the abrupt resignation of Jennifer DeStefano, who was midway through her first year as the principal. A Salem News examination of the superintendent's emails showed she had been talking with Pacifico about replacing DeStefano on an interim basis as many as six weeks before the principal resigned. The emails also revealed that Pacifico did not have a license to work as a public school principal in Massachusetts, although she had held similar positions at private schools, where a license is not required.

In the wake of the controversy, then-Superintendent Margarita Ruiz resigned. The School Committee quickly launched a search for an interim superintendent and hired Kathleen Smith, the retiring superintendent in Brockton.

"We recognize that the Salem High School community has experienced a high level of change over the past year and realize this can cause a level of uncertainty that can be unsettling," Carbone wrote. "Therefore, we acknowledge the need to thoughtfully, and yet quickly, identify the interim leader for next school year. It is essential that we have a leader in place to continue planning and work over the summer."

The process to find a permanent principal for the high school will begin in November, according to Carbone. 

"It isn't ideal circumstances for sure, but I'm very optimistic," Carbone said, noting that the timeline for all this is tight. "We were very fortunate to find a highly qualified, experienced, knowledgeable interim superintendent with urban experience, and we did have a lot of interest in that position.

"I'm optimistic that we'll have interest in this opportunity as well," she continued, "and we'll find somebody who's ready to come on board internally or externally to lead the school."

Contact Salem reporter Dustin Luca at 978-338-2523 or DLuca@salemnews.com. Follow him on Facebook at facebook.com/dustinluca or on Twitter @DustinLucaSN.