September 29, 2020

Region 4 School Board Accepts Resignation of High School Principal Eric Rice

REGION 4— In a brief statement issued Wednesday, the Region 4 Board of Education announced that it has accepted the resignation of  recently hired Valley Regional High School Principal Eric Rice.

The statement said the board accepted a resignation from Rice at a special meeting held Tuesday evening. Friday was the last day with the district for Rice, a Chester resident who was hired for the principal position over the summer.

The board announced that Associate Principal Kristina Martineau would serve as acting principal for the remainder of the 2010-2011 school year, with current assistant superintendent and former principal Ian Neviaser acting on a “supporting role.” Martineau has served as associate principal at the high school for about three years.

Board Chairwoman Linda Hall of Deep River said Wednesday there would be no further information released on Rice’s departure. “The statement says what we would like to present to the public,” she said.

Hall declined to comment on whether Rice’s departure was voluntary, or whether he would receive a severance package or any financial settlement from the school district. Hall also declined to comment on whether she anticipates any legal action against the school district over the circumstances of Rice’s departure.

Hall  confirmed the board would hold an Oct. 21 special meeting on district personnel policies that was requested in an official petition signed by more than 180 registered voters from the district towns of Chester, Deep River, and Essex. State law requires regional school districts to hold a special district meeting in response to a petition signed by at least 50 registered voters from each member town. The Oct. 21 meeting is set for 7 p.m. at John Winthrop Middle School in Deep River.

The situation involving Rice, who arrived in Region 4 after serving as principal at a science and technology magnet school in Hartford, went public on Sept. 23 when about 50 residents, including several high school students, held a rally supporting Rice outside the district’s administrative offices. There were reports that Levy, who is in her second year as superintendent of schools for Region 4, had given Rice a resign or be fired ultimatum.

Levy has refused any further comment on what she describes as a “personnel matter.” Rice, who could not be reached for comment Wednesday, had continued working as principal until Friday.

Rice’s departure makes him the shortest serving principal in the history of the regional high school that opened in 1952. Nevaiser had served as principal for the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 school years. Donald Gates, the retired long-time principal at Portland High School, had served as interim principal for the 2006-2007 and 2007-2008 academic years.