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Saugus superintendent chosen as new Marlborough school chief

Saugus Superintendent Richard P. Langlois has been chosen as the new leader of the Marlborough public schools, a 4,800-student district west of Boston.

The Marlborough School Committee voted, 6 to1, during a special meeting on Saturday to hire Langlois as the new superintendent. Contract negotiations should begin soon, with the goal of a July 1 start date, a Marlborough school official said.

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“We need a superintendent that will be very hands-on,” said Michelle Bodin-Hettinger, vice chairwoman of the Marlborough School Committee. “We really need someone who will close achievement gaps . . . He is primed and ready to go.”

Langlois, 60, was hired in 2008 to lead the 2,900-student Saugus district. He was then an assistant superintendent in Haverhill, where he lives. He is currently in the second year of a four-year contract extension, earning $153,577, according to the School Department budget. The Marlborough job was advertised with a salary “in the $180s,” Bodin-Hettinger said.

“I was recruited to apply for this position,” Langlois said. “It’s a professional challenge. There’s room for growth, and I like what’s exciting and what’s going on in the community.

“It isn’t like I was looking from the very beginning. This was an opportunity that presented itself to me, and I expressed interest, and it panned out, and I’m very excited about working with the people there.”

Langlois’s contract requires him to give the Saugus School Committee a 90-day notice if he intends to the leave the position, said Wendy Reed, committee chairwoman.

‘It was obvious, after he applied for the Pentucket job, that he wasn’t happy here.’

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“We will have to negotiate a separation agreement,” Reed said on Monday.

The School Committee, which meets next Thursday, could form a search committee to hire a replacement, Reed said.

“It’s too soon to say exactly what the process would be,” she said.

Langlois’s departure isn’t entirely unexpected, she said. In 2011, just months after the School Committee negotiated a four-year contract extension, Langlois was a finalist to be superintendent of the Pentucket Regional School District, which serves Groveland, Merrimac, and West Newbury.

“It was obvious, after he applied for the Pentucket job, that he wasn’t happy here,” she said.

Reed credited Langlois with improving student achievement in Saugus, particularly on the state’s MCAS exam.

But Langlois also stirred controversy. In 2011, he drew national media attention, and personal death threats after he banned Santa Claus from visiting Saugus public schools.

But Langlois believed the practice violated a School Committee policy banning religious observances from public school events. The committee voted to reverse his controversial decision.

More recently, Saugus High School students reported their principal, Joseph Diorio, had gone “missing” when he did not return to school following Christmas vacation. After several days of media attention, Langlois issued a statement, disclosing that the veteran principal had been on leave since Dec. 18, “pending the conclusion of an inquiry into the management of certain financial, and other affairs, of Saugus High School.”

Marlborough is not concerned with either controversy, Bodin-Hettinger said.

“He did some amazing things in Saugus,” she said. “When he got there, he had a very small budget, but he was very creative, using money wisely. He brought their test scores up a lot.”

Kathy McCabe can be reached at kmccabe@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeKMcCabe. Globe correspondent Calvin Hennick contributed to this report.
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