Human Interest

Stephan Savoia/AP
A local television reporter conducts a noon-hour stand-up report outside Gloucester High
School. (AP)

‘Pregnancy Pact’ Principal Announces Resignation

August 13, 2008 12:09 PM
by Rachel Balik
The Gloucester High School principal who told the press that students had made a pact to get pregnant has resigned, saying his reputation is ruined.

Principal Who Broke ‘Pregnancy Pact’ Story Steps Down

Joseph M. Sullivan, the principal of Gloucester High School whose comments led Time magazine to run a story claiming teens at the high school had made a pact to get pregnant together, has resigned.

As soon as Time magazine printed the story, the press and media swarmed around Gloucester. The superintendent refused to comment, and ordered Sullivan to do the same. Mayor Carolyn Kirk told the public that Sullivan was “foggy in his memory” of how he came to determine there was a pact. Sullivan stuck to his original claim; his resignation statement accuses Kirk of “publicly slander[ing] my reputation, my integrity and my intelligence,” and also condemns the superintendent for his lack of support.

Background: School President Says Students Made a Pregnancy Pact

Seventeen teenage girls were pregnant at Gloucester High School in Massachusetts, and the school’s principal, Joseph Sullivan, told Time magazine in June 2008 that the surge was a result of a group pact to get pregnant. One baby was fathered by a 24-year-old homeless man. A student at the high school who had a baby last year says that girls frequently commented on how lucky she was and thinks that her peers want to get pregnant because “They’re so excited to finally have someone to love them unconditionally.”

After Mayor Kirk questioned Sullivan’s assertions in a press conference, he made an public statement in June in which he also sought to clear up exactly what he told Time magazine, and disputed the accusation that his memory was “foggy.” He explained, “I honestly do not remember specifically using the word ‘pact’ in my meeting with the Time magazine reporter, but I do specifically remember telling Ms. Kingsbury that my understanding was that a number of the pregnancies were intentional and that the students within this group were friendly with each other.” Sullivan also emphasized that both he and the families of the students should be protected from the press, and everyone involved needed privacy to cope. He added that he was proud of the school and no intention of giving a poor impression of the student body, school or town.

In a follow-up article after Sullivan’s statement, Time magazine predicted that his assertion of honesty might not help him keep his job come September.

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