MERRIMAC — Russell Marino, former principal of Dr. Frederick N. Sweetsir School and Helen R. Donaghue School, will not be returning to that position following a leave of absence, the superintendent said Wednesday.

 Pentucket Regional School District Superintendent Justin Bartholomew said Marino may return “in a different capacity, but he won’t be coming back as the principal of Merrimac.”

On Aug. 28, students and families were informed of Marino’s temporary leave just as the school year started.

The district hired Stephanie Dembro, a longtime elementary school teacher, as assistant principal of both schools and had Assistant Superintendent Brent Conway step in as acting principal.

Bartholomew said Marino is still on the payroll but the superintendent could not comment about the reason for his absence.

“Like anything else, it doesn’t matter if it’s sick leave or vacation or whatever,” he said. “If it’s leave, we are not able to make comments about personnel.”

On Wednesday morning, Merrimac students and families were told via email that an interim principal position had been posted and that the district would embark on a search for a new principal in the spring.

In the email, Bartholomew wrote, “Given the timing of this, the interim position makes the most sense as it will provide administrative stability to the schools, and will allow me to conduct a comprehensive search in the early spring so that we can find a leader who will be supportive in exemplifying my four pillars of education: 1. Children first … always 2. Communication 3. Professionalism and 4. Curriculum.”

Bartholomew is a parent of a child at Donaghue and told The Daily News, “I’m excited to at least get some kind of stability in there, anything to support the kids.”

Staff reporter Heather Alterisio can be reached via email at or by phone at 978-961-3149. Follow her on Twitter @HeathAlt.

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