Maryland School for the Deaf Superintendent James Tucker announced late Thursday that he would retire from his position on Sept. 4, amid turmoil and calls for his job from alumni and parents.
Tucker announced his retirement through a video posted on the school’s YouTube page.
“There is always a time when one knows it is time to go. I love MSD and I now know it is time for me to go,” Tucker signed. “MSD students, be strong, be brave, be creative, be gentle, be curious and be kind to one another.”
Tucker did not respond to requests for comment Friday.
The announcement comes after a letter penned by alumni and parents of former students of the school was sent to MSD’s Board of Trustees demanding Tucker’s removal, with the inability to collect his pension.
The letter claimed Tucker had spent the last 28 years building a toxic culture in the school predicated on racism and elitism.
Earlier this week, several alumni and parents of former students told The Frederick News-Post that certain students at the school received preferential treatment for educational and extracurricular opportunities based on family connections and race.
They also made claims of incidents of bullying and racism by staff and coaches at the Frederick school.
Maryland School for the Deaf provides free, public education to deaf and hard-of-hearing residents in Maryland from birth until the age of 21. The school operates on two campuses, one in Columbia and one in Frederick. The high school campus is in Frederick, and most students who begin their education at Columbia’s campus eventually transfer to Frederick when they reach a certain age.
Tucker originally announced in July that he would retire in the summer of 2021 and the board planned to spend the year conducting a nationwide search for a new superintendent.
With the sudden change of departure date, Board of Trustees President Robert Davila said in a statement that an interim superintendent would be appointed in the coming days.
Catrina Register, an MSD alumni, said in a text message that many members of the MSD community are upset that Tucker is being allowed to retire.
The open letter called for a transparent process in selecting the next leader of MSD and asked for community input to be included. It is unclear whether the Board of Trustees will oblige with that request.