— Parents of students attending Webster Elementary School went before members of the Board of School Committee Monday night expressing support for principal Sarah Lynch, who hasn’t been seen at the school since late last month.
Lynch, the principal at Webster for the last two years, was not on hand when school began Wednesday, but numerous parents said she was greeting parents and children the previous week at kindergarten orientation.
Late last week, Superintendent Dr. Bolgen Vargas said Lynch is a school district employee and remains principal at Webster. She is receiving her full salary and benefits, he said. School officials have not offered an explanation for her absence.
On Monday, Lynch was listed as the principal on the school’s website
Elinor Murphy, who retired in 2012 as principal of Beech Street School, is filling in for Lynch on an interim basis. Murphy worked as a long-term interim principal at Webster Elementary School before Lynch took over the job in 2016.
Several parents showed up at Monday night’s school board meeting, voicing support for Lynch.
“I don’t know why she was removed, but the rumor mill has started,” Erin Kirwin said. “Nobody is quite sure. Ms. Lynch has brought a lot of creative energy to the school. The teachers work well together, and the students seem happy.”
“The abrupt removal of her on the first day of school is an insult to the students and parents,” Gerald Astorino said. “If you decided at the last minute to do this you should have thought that out better. It is blind-siding, disruptive symbiosis for the whole school and disrespectful to all. If you planned on this, you should have done it over the summer.”
“Less than a week in, this is very disheartening,” Hillary Mortimer said. “Teachers went in all excited (last) Tuesday, and by Thursday parents are already asking questions.”
The 2018-19 school year marks Lynch’s third year with the school district. She was an administrative mentor in the Lawrence, Mass., school system when she started at Webster Elementary School on July 1, 2016, hired after a community forum that featured two finalists.
“Ms. Lynch is a great match for the children of Webster,” then-superintendent, Dr. Debra Livingston said in announcing Lynch’s hiring. “I am confident she will be an asset to every aspect of the school community.”
Last year, Lynch launched a public campaign to raise $62,000 to renovate the school’s library.
Located on outer Elm Street, Webster Elementary School serves much of the North End and is also a magnet school for elementary-age students who do not speak English as their first language.