ACUSHNET — A longtime New Bedford principal has been named the new superintendent of Acushnet Public Schools.

Paula Bailey, who spent 15 years as a principal in three different New Bedford schools, was unanimously selected 5-0 Thursday from among four finalists for the position.

Bailey, most recently the principal at Keith Middle School, has a doctorate in educational leadership from Northeastern University.

Overall, 21 applicants sought the superintendent position, which was whittled down to a final four: Bailey; Westport superintendent Ann M. Dargon; Paul S. Haughey, a principal in the Blackstone-Millville District; and Paul Zinni, superintendent of Avon schools. Zinni dropped out of the Acushnet search after accepting another position elsewhere.

Bailey will replace Dr. Stephen Donovan, who served as superintendent in Acushnet for 11 years before resigning last June to take a position with North River Collaborative in Rockland.