North Stonington — Board of Education Chairman Darren Robert resigned from the post Friday, days after he publicly berated a fellow board member and a month after a group of board members tried to oust him from the chairman's seat.
Robert will remain a board member but will step down from the chairmanship, which he has held for about eight years. Vice Chairman David McCord will serve as acting chairman until the board elects a new leader, McCord confirmed Friday.
Robert emailed the news Friday to every board member, thanking them for the chance to serve. He also said he looked forward to continuing to serve. Robert was re-elected to the board in November; his term runs through 2015.
Robert did not respond to emails inquiring about the incident and about his resignation.
At a meeting last month, board members Robert Testa, Chris Hundt and Ed Scarchilli led an ouster bid against Robert, saying there was no "trust and confidence" on the board. The men spoke out against Robert because "the road is changing," they said, and with it, the dynamics of the board.
The motion at the April 18 meeting to remove Robert from the post eventually failed, but it was Robert himself who made the motion, saying maybe it was time to take a "cheap seat."
On Wednesday, after the board voted 6-1 to hire Peter Nero as the district's new superintendent, Robert berated Testa for leaving the room immediately after the vote to call Nero with the news.
Robert yelled at Testa that the call circumvented not only Robert, the board, and superintendent search committee Chairman Walter Mathwich, but also James Connelly of the New England School Development Council, whom the board had paid $10,000 to conduct a superintendent search.
Testa said he called Nero to inform him of the vote so Nero could begin the process of notifying the Cranston district and the state of his intention to accept the North Stonington position.
McCord was the lone dissenter in Wednesday's vote.
On Friday, Testa said he harbored no ill will against Robert and thanked him for "putting the district first" by stepping down.
"I think with a new superintendent coming in, new leadership at the board level will make a difference," Testa said. "It's nothing negative against Darren; he should be commended. He served as chairman a long time and it's a tough job. It's a thankless position. Any differences I may have had with Darren, it's nothing personal."
Reached Thursday, Nero, who currently serves as the superintendent of the Cranston, R.I., school district, said he was looking forward to joining the district and was not deterred after hearing about the argument that broke out between the two board members.
"I wasn't there for the meeting," Nero said. "My tenure will start as soon as I sign the contract, and I'm looking forward to it. I've worked with my school committee, and you don't always agree on things. That's the nature of what we do."
Nero said he can't "leave Cranston high and dry" but is hoping to begin in North Stonington sometime between July 1 and August 1.
He'll replace Natalie J. Pukas, who spent 38 years in the North Stonington district, the last 12 as superintendent.