It is tough enough discovering that the school you lead is at the centre of an international scandal over teenage pregnancies. To then hear that the local mayor has suggested the furore could be blamed on your "foggy" memory is worse.

These events led Joseph Sullivan, principal of Gloucester High, in Massachusetts, to resign last week.

The school gained worldwide media attention in June after 18 pupils became pregnant. It was claimed that many had been involved in a pact to have babies.

Time magazine had reported Dr Sullivan (below) suggesting that at least half of the girls did so as part of an agreement, and that he had seen them giving each other high-fives. He later denied using the word "pact", but still believed that many of the pregnancies were intentional.

A few days later Gloucester's mayor, Carolyn Kirk, and schools superintendent Christopher Farmer, announced there was no evidence of "any planned blood-oath bond to become pregnant". Ms Kirk said Dr Sullivan's memory had "failed" and was "foggy" about how he had learned about the pact.

He announced his resignation, saying the mayor and superintendent had "publicly slandered my reputation, my integrity and my intelligence". In a statement he said that without their unqualified support, the "difficult and challenging job of being the high school principal becomes next to impossible".

English-born Mr Farmer said the city had "every reason to be grateful for Dr Sullivan's personal and professional service to the community".

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