Silver Hill School’s Post-Charter Transition Continues with Principal’s Retirement

Silver Hill Horace Mann Charter School achieved Level 1 status. (File photograph.)

The tumultuous ride Silver Hill School students, staff and parents have been on since the school lost its charter school status last year continues with the retirement of its outspoken principal.

Principal Margaret Shepherd reluctantly led the school from its transition as a Horace Mann charter school in 2017 to a standard public elementary school reporting to the Haverhill School Committee. Superintendent Margaret Marotta told WHAV Shepherd informed her staff this week that she will retire at the end of the school year in June.

“The position will be posted and a hiring process will occur over the next several months,” Marotta said Friday.

Shepherd could not be reached for comment Friday morning.

A year and a half ago, Haverhill Education Association members voted 114 to 246 not to renew Silver Hill’s status as a city-owned, but autonomous, Horace Mann charter school. The union exercised its authority under state law to have teachers across the city cast a vote on whether the school’s charter should be renewed.

The school received its initial charter in 2008 in an attempt to reverse low student achievement. As a charter school, it had an autonomous board of directors and the right to establish its own school calendar, curriculum and educational culture.

Shepherd expressed regret at the loss of the charter in a statement following the vote.

“I know how hard everyone tried to get the Charter Application sent forward, and I will never forget the dedication of our school community. As much as this is an extremely discouraging outcome, I also know that the Silver Hill staff are the best at what they do, we will continue to have unbeatable family engagement, we open our doors to all children, and HEA can never take that away. Give us the children, and we will always provide the best educational program in Haverhill!”

During a meeting in August 2017, Shepherd assured parents she would continue working for the school’s success.

“The transition is not going to be something where we fall apart. If anything, this opens up a lot of the barriers that were put in place because we are a charter school. We have great teachers, great community support and great kids. There are some unknowns but we’ve dealt with those before.”