WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Mount Greylock Regional High School's principal is leaving after barely a year in the post.
Superintendent Rose Ellis informed the school community on Tuesday morning that John "Jack" Kurty was on leave of absence for personal reasons and would resign in June.
Kurty was selected after a three-month search to head the high school beginning July 1, 2012. The Westfield High graduate had spent more than a decade at the American School in London, leaving as dean of academics.
He replaced Timothy Payne, who took the principal post at Mount Anthony Union Middle School in Bennington, Vt.
In a telephone interview Tuesday morning, Ellis indicated that while Kurty's departure may have surprised the school in general, the issues that led to his departure were not news to the administration.
"He has had pressing family concerns that go back to the middle of the year," Ellis said. "He has expressed serious interest in giving those the highest priority."
Ellis stated categorically that Kurty was not asked to resign by herself or the School Committee.
"It was voluntary on his part," she said.
Assistant Principal Christopher Barnes will take over as acting principal for the remainder of the academic year, Ellis said.
Barnes, who was a candidate for the principal position before the school hired Kurty, has been named to the top post at Vermont's Arlington Memorial Middle/High School starting next year, Ellis said.
She said it was "premature" to speculate on whether Mount Greylock might ask Barnes to consider staying on in Williamstown.
"He's been pursuing principalships this year," Ellis said of Barnes. "He had expressed that intereset last year. He had applied for the principalship here and has shown great promise as an administrator.
"Right now, he's an acting principal, and we're going to continue that for the remainder of the school year. ... It's really a question of what his interest is. I'm looking at making sure the school year continues smoothly and that it's business as usual for us in terms of preparing for MCAS and spring fever and graduation and all of the other activities at our school."
Ellis said she is confident the administrative team at Mount Greylock will be able to execute that transition. P.J. Pannesco will help Barnes as the acting assistant principal.
Ellis said she did not know what the time table will be for conducting a search for Kurty's permanent replacement.
Ellis' letter to the school states:
I am writing to let you know Principal Jack Kurty is currently on a leave to take time to address pressing family concerns that are of the highest priority to him. Regrettably, Dr. Kurty will be resigning at the end of June. We wish Jack and his family the best during this challenging time.
Assistant Principal, Christopher Barnes, will be acting Principal for the remainder of the school year. P.J. Pannesco will be supporting Mr. Barnes in his role as Assistant Principal. Teachers informed their students of Dr. Kurty's leave and resignation at the start of Period 1 today. A search for a new Principal will ensue in the months ahead.
The strong Administrative team in place at Mount Greylock ensures no disruption to the daily operation of the school. The changes within the administration will not directly impact the experience of our students as they approach the end of their school year and continue to assert their best efforts. Most significantly, we look forward to celebrating our 2013 graduates with a joyous graduation ceremony in June. As always, please let me know if you have any questions. Thank you.
This article updated at 1:08 p.m. with information, comments from Ellis.