Dominion High School graduates, current students, parents, and staff members again crowded into the school boardroom tonight to show their support for the school’s suspended principal, Dr. John Brewer.
More than 70 speakers addressed the board during the public comment portion of its meeting asking that the principal be reinstated. They told story after story of Brewer’s service as the leader of Dominion since it opened in 2003. Brewer has been on leave for almost two months.
“Dr. Williams, members of the School Board, you are not deciding the fate of a good principal. You are deciding the fate of a great one,” said Michi Bryant, a school test coordinator. “It is the effort and expertise of leaders like Dr. Brewer that give our most at-risk students the best chance at success.”
Auesta Safi, a Dominion graduate who said Brewer helped her through an eating disorder, told the board that she and so many others are standing up for the principal because “he stood up for us.”
Dominion librarian Nicola Le said Dominion’s accepting environment is due to Brewer, adding that, “he’s caring, loving, respectful and supportive of all of his staff and students, no matter what walk of life they come from.”
School system administrators have declined to specify why Brewer is on leave, stating that they legally cannot discuss personnel matters. But the move came as Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office launched an investigation of Brian Damron, who served as Dominion’s band director from July 2012 to January 2015 under the leadership of Brewer.
School records show that Brewer wrote a letter of recommendation for Damron that the band director submitted to Duval County Public Schools in Florida, as part of his application. Damron was later accused of making sexual advances toward a 15-year-old student there. No charges were filed, but the band director has since resigned.
Superintendent Eric Williams has recommended Brewer be terminated from his position, according to School Board member Debbie Rose (Algonkian).
At tonight’s meeting, the crowd cheered and waved signs reading “Bring Back Brewer” when one speaker, Duffin Newman, accused Williams of never visiting Dominion High School. He noted that the superintendent is recommending a $93.6 million increase in next fiscal year’s budget. “How much have you spent investigating Dr. Brewer?”
Other speakers called the principal’s suspension a result of a personal feud between Williams and other school system administrators. That prompted another round of loud cheers from the audience.
Chairman Jeff Morse (Dulles) hushed the crowd. “If we can’t maintain decorum, we will shut down the hearing.”
After the last speaker, Williams did not specifically address the situation at Dominion but said, “I just want to acknowledge that significant expression of input.”
The board is not expected to make a decision on Brewer’s employment tonight. If Brewer, as expected, appeals Williams’ recommendation, the matter goes to the School Board. The School Board can choose to have an independent hearing officer review the information and make another recommendation to the School Board, which makes a final decision.