FALL RIVER — The Fall River School Committee has appointed an interim superintendent to take over Superintendent Dr. Matthew Malone's duties from July 1.

The committee appointed current Assistant Superintendent of Schools Maria Pontes to the interim position at a meeting Thursday, but Malone will still be paid through Oct. 31.

The decision comes after Malone on May 31 announced his plans to resign this fall following allegations of harassment of staff and a vote of no confidence from the School Committee in February.

Malone has allegedly used coarse and demeaning language to employees, with accusations of sexism and bullying.

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"The past 10 months, since the first complaints against the superintendent were filed, have been the most frustrating time of my entire tenure as a School Committee member," noted committee member Kevin Aguiar on Thursday.

"I want to say thank you to all of the individuals who courageously stepped up to file complaints and raise their concerns about the superintendent's inappropriate behaviors."

Other committee members defended the superintendent, noting that the district performed well despite the pandemic.

"I think the district has done very well with Dr. Malone at the helm," said committee member Josh Hetzler. "I haven't heard all the complaints that some people would like you to believe, and I haven't seen the morale tank like some people would have you believe. In fact, quite the opposite."

Malone will be paid through Oct. 31 as per a contract amendment approved by the School Committee on Thursday.

"This vote will cost the district approximately $70,000," said Aguiar. "While I'm not happy with that amount of money, I do believe that the benefit to the district of not having the superintendent continue to be in charge as of July 1 is greater than the buyout figures."

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