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Hammond superintendent resigns

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HAMMOND – Despite objections from former staff members and district residents, the Hammond Central School Board of Education accepted the resignation of school Superintendent Douglas H. McQueer on Wednesday.

“I have a problem with seven people going against the residents of this town,” resident Ruth C. Brooks said.

The Board unanimously reached a settlement agreement with Mr. McQueer after several weeks of negotiations.

“We have agreed on granting Mr. McQueer early retirement,” School Board President Timothy W. Pitcher said. “Within the last few meetings, we have come to a mutual agreement. Mr. McQueer will be staying on until Oct. 1”

Under the terms of the settlement, Mr. McQueer is not allowed to seek or threat legal action against the school board. Neither Mr. McQueer nor Mr. Pitcher said they could elaborate on why Mr. McQueer’s contract was not renewed.

Mr. McQueer’s contract was set to expire at the end of July. Mr. McQueer was reappointed at the July 9 board meeting, but after a 15-minute executive session, board members voted not to renew his contract. The president and vice president of the board fired Mr. McQueer the next day.

At its July 25 meeting, board members said they would reconsider their position, but the board has since decided to stand firm on its July 9 vote.

“I have known Mr. McQueer throughout all my life, and this was purely a job-related decision, not a personal one,” Mr. Pitcher said. “There is always going to be two sides. All of the issues we had with him came under his evaluation, and by law we can’t discuss them. But we wish him all the best of luck.”

The district can appoint a new superintendent on or after Sept. 20, Mr. Pitcher said.

After announcing their decision, the board refused to accept further public comment. But several residents still expressed outrage over Mr. McQueer’s dismissal.

“We parents have a right to express our feelings,” Dawn Waiculonis said. “If we don’t even get a chance to do this, this is wrong.”

At the end of the meeting, district residents clapped for Mr. McQueer.

“I would just like to say thank you to Mr. McQueer,” Town Council member Douglas E. Delosh said. “People are here because they respect you, Doug. I couldn’t have asked for a better person to work with for the three years when I was here as dean of students and the fact that you are going to stay here until Oct. 1 shows the character, class and integrity that you have. That is what we are going to miss.”

Mr. McQueer said he feels sad about leaving teachers, staff and students.

“It’s been my home,” he said. “I would like to thank everyone who has come out to support me and all the members of the community who have helped make this school like my home these last few years. There are times I spent more time here than at my own home.”

Mr. McQueer graduated valedictorian of Hammond in 1980. He said his family sold their farm land to the school for the purpose of its construction in the 1950s. He has served as the school’s math teacher for 11 years and superintendent for seven years.

“I am lucky,” he said. “Most school superintendents’ terms are between three and five years.”

After his time ends at Hammond, Mr. McQueer said he would like to continue his career in education.

“I don’t have any plans as of yet,” he said. “Right now, we’re just focused on getting the school ready for our students in September.”

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