Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct information.
PLAISTOW — School Administrative Unit 55 Superintendent Earl Metzler has formally resigned as the head of both the Hampstead and Timberlane school districts.
"I wish to inform you I have reached a separation agreement with the SAU 55 board," he wrote in a letter obtained by The Eagle-Tribune dated July 17. "This agreement will allow me to continue my work with the Hampstead School District while concluding my work with Timberlane."
The SAU 55 School Board announced it was negotiating a separation agreement with Metzler last Thursday at a special board meeting. The board approved the negotiation for both Metzler and an incoming interim superintendent who will have a contract for the 2020-21 school year.
After having worked for the SAU for eight years serving as superintendent, Metzler thanked his teachers, administrators, other staff members, students and community members.
"Timberlane has been a very important part of my life for these past eight years and I will look back at my time here fondly," Metzler said while concluding his letter. "I will remember the people I worked with, the relationships built, and our many collective accomplishments. I wish each one of you the very, very best at Timberlane and in life."
At the end of last year, Metzler sued the SAU for over $100,000 in compensation of overtime and unused vacation days he says he was owed. That case is still pending, according to court documents.
The interim superintendent will become an executive consultant with the Hampstead Schoold District, helping it separate from Timberlane.
In March Timberlane voters — spanning Plaistow, Atkinson, Sandown and Danville — approved a plan to withdraw from SAU 55 effective July 1, 2021.
Metzler's position had been discussed since late June when the Hampstead School Board said it considered an agreement which it believed to be fair to both parties, and would allow for high-quality superintendent services for both districts.
Within twenty-four hours of its affirmative vote, the Hampstead School Board was informed that the Timberlane Board had rejected the agreement.
“Soon after this action, the Hampstead School Board received additional information that the Timberlane Board was planning to take action, through the SAU Board, that would leave the Hampstead School District without quality, stable, educational leadership,” the announcement stated.
Metzler’s job as an executive consultant will require him — with board approval — to find appropriate administrative offices, negotiate lease terms, develop an organizational and leadership plan for the Hampstead School District, and coordinate the transition of all SAU functions to the Hampstead School District.
He will also be responsible for the planning and implementation of all educational programs for the Hampstead School District for the 2020-21 school year, including developing a plan for reopening schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the potential for a return to remote learning.
Breanna Edelstein contributed to this report.
Correction: The orginal version of this story said Dr. Earl Metzler's lawsuit against SAU 55 was dismissed. According to court documents, it is still pending.