Jim Buckley has resigned as superintendent of the Tooele School District, effective Friday.

Buckley, 42, tendered his resignation to the Tooele Board of Education Monday night, which met in executive session for four hours.The board has appointed Assistant Superintendent Jose L. Trujillo as interim superintendent. He will lead the district until the board can conduct a search for Buckley's successor.

"It's a sad day," said school board president Kendall Thomas. "Dr. Buckley has done an excellent job."

The school board has agreed to pay half of Buckley's salary for the next five months and to provide health insurance until June 1999, or until he finds new employment. Buckley's annual salary has been about $84,000.

Thomas praised Buckley's ability to analyze school issues, make decisions and direct the school district, which is experiencing considerable growth while its tax base continues to shrink. His downfall was due to "dumb things in his personal life."

"It's been a roller-coaster ride. I've been on the board five years, and we've been through uniforms, a change of superintendent, sexual harassment, really all of the things every school board in the country goes through. This has probably been the toughest," he said.

Buckley was appointed superintendent of the Tooele School District in June 1997. Formerly, he directed special education, youth in custody and English as a Second Language programs for the Iron School District.

The school board has met behind closed doors on several occasions recently to discuss Buckley's contract following last month's arrest for operating a vehicle while in possession of an open container of alcohol.

He pleaded guilty to a class B misdemeanor, which can carry a $150 fine. A charge of driving without proof of insurance was dropped when Buckley presented appropriate documentation.

Last April, he pleaded no contest in 5th District Court to telephone harassment of a Cedar City woman and paid a $100 fine for making the calls. The woman was described as an old family friend by school board attorney Ron Elton.

Authorities said Buckley was in Cedar City on district business March 13 when he allegedly called the woman three times, hanging up when she answered. Later that evening he allegedly made two more calls, again hanging up. Elton has said Buckley hung up because he did not recognize the woman's voice.

Buckley could not be reached for comment Tuesday.