School Board Postpones Brewer Decision

Dominion High School Principal John Brewer will have to wait at least another week before he knows whether he can return to his job.

After a four-hour closed session meeting Monday night, members of the Loudoun County School Board returned to a nearly empty board room, with only three members of the press and a sheriff deputy standing by.

Chairman Jeff Morse (Dulles) said from the dais that no action would be taken. School Board member Eric DeKenipp (Catoctin) said that another closed session would be held Monday, March 20, adding, “That’s about all we can say.”

Debbie Rose (Algonkian), whose district includes Dominion, emerged from the closed session visibly shaken, and Eric Hornberger (Ashburn) laid his head on the dais as Morse announced the results of the session.

School Board members did not comment from the dais on what was discussed during the closed meeting. The agenda item said only that the meeting was called to consult with legal counsel the discipline and performance of a specific employee. School Board members had said in the days leading up to the meeting that Brewer’s employment was the topic at hand.

The closed session comes after three months of uncertainty in the Dominion High School community. Brewer has been on leave since Dec. 2, and Superintendent Eric Williams has since recommended he be fired. Brewer is appealing that decision and the School Board will have the final say.

The principal was suspended after the 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.

After Damron resigned from Loudoun County Public Schools in January 2015, records show that Brewer wrote a letter of recommendation for the band director that he submitted to Duval County Public Schools in Florida.

“His professional successes derive directly from his exceptional vision, leadership and skills, and captivating persona,” Brewer wrote of Damron. “I regret only that Mr. Damron’s tenure at Dominion High School, shortened abruptly and unexpectedly by personal circumstances, was too brief for him to implement his full multi-year vision…”

LCPS Music Supervisor Michael Pierson also wrote a letter of recommendation on Damron’s behalf, according to Duval County records, but he has not been suspended.

In August 2015, Damron was hired as a band director at Stanton College Preparatory School, a top-ranked high school in Duval County, FL. There, he was accused of running his hands near the crotch of a 15-year-old student and commenting on his penis size, according to an investigative report from Duval County Public Schools.

Patty, the mother of the student, said Damron “preyed” on her son and made multiple sexual advances toward him. She said that, in the fall of 2016, she contacted Brewer and Loudoun’s Department of Personnel Services and did not receive a call back.

An investigative report from the Duval County school district in Florida found Damron had not committed a crime, but that he showed “extremely poor judgment,” using abusive, sexual and inappropriate language with or in front of students. Twice he was reprimanded in October 2015 for allegedly verbally abusing band students, calling them names, making lewd comments and sexual innuendo. He also was accused of sticking up his middle finger at a student, the report states.

He resigned from the Florida school district in November 2016, following the investigation.

The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office has closed the case against Damron pending new information, finding that no criminal activity took place in Loudoun.

Patty, who wanted her name withheld to protect her son’s identity, believes the band director also acted inappropriately toward students in Loudoun. Damron had told her son so much, showing him a picture of a Dominion student that he claimed to have had a two-year relationship with. Patty has also spoken to a mother of another Dominion student who told her he’d called students names, using offensive language that she considered sexual harassment.

“I feel sick that this is happening to Dr. Brewer,” Patty said today, “but I truly feel that if he were on top of things there, he would have investigated it further when kids came to him.”

Patty also said that, although Damron is not facing criminal charges, the Florida Department of Education is investigating him as it considers whether to rescind his teaching license, information she knows firsthand because the department interviewed her son two weeks ago about his interactions with the former band director.

Monday’s meeting was a stark contrast to board meetings in the past three months. Parents, students, teachers and other school employees have packed every board meeting since Brewer was placed on leave. They shared story after story of their principal, who was named Loudoun’s Principal of the Year in 2010, and pressed for his immediate reinstatement.

Jackie Funk, a parent of three Dominion students, said Brewer’s supporters decided to stay home Monday night to give the School Board space to make a decision. Ahead of the meeting she said, “We appreciate the significant decision that is before the School Board. While the community would have attended tonight’s closed session just to show our unwavering support for Dr. Brewer yet again, we have put our trust in the board. We are confident that once they review everything, they will reach the same conclusion as us.”

Timeline of events:

July 2012 – Brian Damron is hired as Dominion High School’s band director.

November 2014 – Loudoun County Public Schools received a complaint that Damron may have engaged in inappropriate conduct while employed at Dominion High School. Wayde Byard, the schools’ public information officer, said the school division immediately referred the matter to the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office. “It was determined that the alleged incident took place in another jurisdiction and did not result in charges,” Byard stated. The teacher worked at James Hubert Blake High in Rockville, MD, before coming to Loudoun.

January 2015 –Damron resigns from Loudoun County Public Schools.

August 2015 – Damron is hired to teach in Duval County, FL.

November 2016 – Damron resigns from Duval County School District after the district’s investigation found that he had used “extremely poor judgement” in using abusive, sexual and inappropriate language with, or in front of, students. The district referred the case to the Duval County School Police; the police did not press criminal charges. Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office launched its own investigation to see if any criminal activity took place while he taught at Dominion High School.

Dec. 2, 2016 – Principal John Brewer is placed on administrative leave. Supporters start a petition requesting that he be reinstated. (It now has 3,208 signatures.)

Dec. 8, 2016 – In an interview with Loudoun Now, a Florida mom said Damron, working as a school band director there, inappropriately touched her 15-year-old son. She said she made several calls to Dominion High School Principal John Brewer and the Department of Personnel Services and did not receive a call back. The investigation in Florida found that Damron did not commit a crime. He resigned that position Nov. 1.

Jan. 3, 2017 – A fundraising page at gofundme.com/support-dr-brewer is launched. (It’s since raised $41,444 for Brewer’s legal defense.)

February 2017 – Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office closes the investigation into Damron, pending new information.

Feb. 22-23, 2017 – John Brewer goes before an independent hearing officer.

March 13, 2017 – Loudoun County School Board discusses the case in a closed session meeting.

dnadler@loudounnow.com
twitter.com/danielle_nadler

19 thoughts on “School Board Postpones Brewer Decision

  • 2017-03-15 at 11:52 pm
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    Well, it certainly seems that Mr. Brewer was aware of the misconduct, yet still chose to provide a recommendation for Damron without a caveat or caution to the prospective employer. To me, that suggests a disregard for the safety of children. Given what we now know, I would have to vote to censure or remove Brewer. A clear message must be sent that is NOT ok to let harrassment, abuse, or molestation go on, neither heterosexual nor homosexual, and it is also NOT ok to just let it become someone else’s problem. I hope the school board will do what is right here.

  • 2017-03-14 at 7:29 pm
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    Rdj, always so …. classy. Ha.

    And utterly wrong. LCPS did come out with a statement via email noting that the hearing process could take weeks or months and that it was LCPS policy not to comment on personnel matters. That was reported in these papers over and over but Rdj doesn’t appear to have been paying attention.

    And note how Rdj likes discussion forums where folks he disagrees with can be banned… like on ex-chairman Hornberger’s Facebook page. Rdj even tried to persuade the school board to give favored citizens longer time to speak at school board meetings while limiting those he disagreed with (like me). Funny how the federal courts apply the law consistent with the US Constitution. The US Constitution is certainly a foreign concept to folks like Rdj and Hornberger (not to mention Plowman and Randall).

    But let’s get to the heart of this issue. Yes, it involves a principal and his career. The principal could disclose the information (by waiving the personnel exemption cited by the school) but chooses not to. The only public policy issue left is whether teachers who prey on little boys having serial sexual relationships with them after they graduate and turn 18 is acceptable behavior for teachers in LCPS. For Rdj and LEA President David Palanzi, it appears that’s perfectly acceptable. Who knows, maybe they celebrate Damron ushering these boys into “adulthood”.

    But for most of us, whether it’s teenage boys or girls, they are not prey for adults. Whether it’s a teacher or a football coach at Penn St. or a priest, these young students are to be protected. LCPS clearly failed here. Damron’s license to this day has not been revoked. It doesn’t appear Rdj has a problem with that fact. And we have no guarantees that anyone in LCPS’ personnel department would do anything differently. The school board is looking to minimize publicity on this issue, not to protect our children. Regardless of the outcome on Brewer, the school board needs to clarify it’s policy on sexual relationships between faculty and students including immediately after graduation. And on what appears to be sexual harassment in schools. I can assure you that if the language alleged to have been used by Damron was used in many military environments, there would have been consequences for the perpetrators. In LCPS, it appears it’s perfectly acceptable to talk to students like that, right Rdj?

    • 2017-03-15 at 4:01 pm
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      Where the heck did you dig up “Rdj even tried to persuade the school board to give favored citizens longer time to speak at school board meetings while limiting those he disagreed with (like me)”? What I SAID was that it wasn’t fair to penalize all of us just because one individual – you, Brian – made a habit out of behaving like a jerk at each and every school board meeting.

      How DARE you accuse me of something I did not advocate in any way. (Not surprising, though, as you routinely stuff words into people’s mouths.)

      In no way did that imply that you should be given less time than anyone else. What I wanted – and requested – was for the school board to go back to allowing three minutes per speaker – for ALL speakers – rather than just two, which they seemed to begin doing – regardless of the number of speakers – once you came on the scene with your intemperate tirades. Can’t say I blame them, and I recall saying as much, because who would want to spend one second longer than necessary listening to you?

      • 2017-03-15 at 4:42 pm
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        First, thank you for that comment Rdj. And no, Debbie Rose and Eric Hornberger, I did NOT pay Rdj to make that statement. I can’t tell you how that helps me against LCPS.

        I will show put the tape link on here. Note that Rdj is saying that if one speaker criticizes the actions of the school board, he “[doesn’t] blame” the school board for limiting the speaking time of all speakers. In other words, do whatever you can to protect one’s reputation and eliminate legitimate criticism. Where have we seen that before…. could it be when LCPS let a pervert teacher resign instead of being fired so that teacher kept his license and kept harming kids? Anything to protect the illusion that is LCPS.

        • 2017-03-15 at 7:02 pm
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          Amazing that SGP continues to divert the conversation to himself. How narcissistic can that guy get?

          • 2017-03-15 at 9:12 pm
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            Oh Alex Fogelson, you try to hard to change the subject. It was your best bud, Dan aka “rare bird” Johnson, who attacked me for simply making a comment.

            And in case you missed it, Johnson was testifying… oops I mean explaining how it was clear to the public that Hornberger reduced the speaking time at board meetings to try to limit my public criticism. Wow is that going to come in handy in the coming months. Keep at it and I’m sure you can join him in that “explanation”.

      • 2017-03-16 at 12:51 am
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        Rdj, here is the tape (see the 7:00 time mark). You said that “limiting the exposure to the diatribes of one speaker is understandable”. How is not a call to limit the comments of one speaker? Certainly that is a legitimate interpretation of those comments.

        You go on to say that the 2-minute limit “shoehorns the rest of us” who “should not be held hostage”. Overly dramatic, you think? But clearly you are asking for more time for the “rest of us”.

        • 2017-03-16 at 9:23 am
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          What I said was clear enough, that I wanted the time for comments extended for all of us instead of restricting that time because one man cant seem to behave himself in a civil manner.

          You twist everyone’s words to suit your self-aggrandizement. That’s why you get banned everywhere. That you continue wasting taxpayer dollars by suing everyone you can for the derision you invite on yourself is why I continue speaking out and affixing your name onto your tantrums in lieu of the darkly tinted windshield of your “superman” persona.

          I apologize to the others here who would prefer to discuss the topic of the article, but since you twist nearly every topic into a bandstand for your own grievances (based on nothing more than the puppets you erect by attributing false thoughts and intent into them as you did me here), it’s just another day in the fantastic world of Brian Davison.

          Speaking of taxpayers, why don’t you estimate how much money you’ve single-handedly cost our schools back when you filed 60+ FOIA requests that required nearly full time attention from the LCPS PIO for months or the 5 or so (initial) court cases into which you dragged numerous school administrators and school board members?

          You, sir, are a singular source of disproportionate waste with NOTHING to show for it. Where’s your outrage against that?

          • 2017-03-16 at 2:04 pm
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            We’ve seen flip flops during presidential elections but usually there are at least a few days in between the mutually exclusive positions. Rdj managed to flip flop within the same post!

            First, Rdj likes to print my name on his posts because he seems to believe I am hiding. But then, inexplicably, he claims I just want attention. But how is one seeking attention if they are using screen names? I use the term Virginia SGP because growth scores, of which SGPs are one type, are the best way to evaluate schools. It’s a marketing ploy. In fact, if you google Virginia sgp scores, you get a great video created by the VDOE.

            Rdj, come back from NeverNeverLand. You know, the world in which you claimed I was using SGPs to get access to my kids (in your world of free flowing libel, I had somehow lost custody). The personal attacks don’t work. At least not to your benefit.

            You’ll be happy to know that in federal court, loser pays. Interesting that Leo Rogers was so confident about winning the free speech case today. He declined my offer of a side bet. Rogers/Randall/BOS, Plowman and Rose/Hornberger/Maloney are the ones costing Loudoun taxpayers money. They refuse to follow the Constitution. No other county takes such outrageous and illegal positions. As a side benefit, each of these corrupt officials gets to become infamous in federal court opinions. But no need to worry about me “cost[ing]” money. That is, unless your side is breaking the law, right?

        • 2017-03-16 at 12:31 pm
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          In what world is an article about the schools and the Damron issue actually about your battle to be appreciated by LCPS, SGP? Your continued hijacking of all articles related to schools is unappreciated and inappropriate.

          • 2017-03-16 at 1:58 pm
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            Alex, see my first comment below. Nothing about me. It was your best bud “rare bird” and LEA activist Dan Johnson who tried to attack me for simply commenting on the public policy. In what world do you all think these personal attacks are working?

  • 2017-03-14 at 4:48 pm
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    You know, once, just once, I’d like to read an article about something of local interest involving our schools without Brian Davison (Virginia SGP) always being the first to post with his diarrheal rants about how awful the school board is because of the endless, perceived slights he constantly invites.

    This isn’t about you, Brian, it’s about a beloved educator who has clearly done a superb job serving his community – and school administration that for whatever reason seems stuck between a rock and a hard place trying to deal with a sensitive personnel matter.

    I don’t like that they haven’t said a single word about what’s going on. They should have been able to say something, even “this is a sensitive personnel matter, and we wish we could give you additional information, but due to the necessities of due process and peoples’ right to being treated as innocent until proven not, that’s all we can say”. All we seem to have heard is – nothing.

    But that vacuum is not an invitation for people like Brian Davison to fill the void with their own agendas.

      • 2017-03-15 at 5:38 pm
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        Of the recent education articles (alone) with comments, you’re right there on 25 of them.

        • 2017-03-15 at 9:15 pm
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          “Rare bird”, don’t be so critical of Loudoun Now. Are you suggesting that most of their articles don’t elicit a comment? And that only when I get the conversation going does a discussion ensue?

          If we are going to quality everything and only count less than 10% of the articles, I guess I can’t hold you to not speaking out against the numerous ineffective teachers to whom LCPS gives a glowing evaluation. But how many teachers who use their band students as prey have you spoken out against? Is that zero? Do you actually approve of the despicable behavior of Damron? Do you think he was just shepherding some “confused” students along their way? Be loud. Be proud, bird.

  • 2017-03-14 at 4:13 pm
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    Wow.
    1) Loudoun Now…please advise how much money has been spent by taxpayers for this debacle.
    2) LoCo School Board…if you cannot make the tough decisions in a timely manner, then resign from the board.

  • 2017-03-14 at 1:56 pm
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    I’m trying to understand why one of the best administrators not only in Virginia, but also in the United States, is still on leave when the school’s community desperately needs him back. Damron has been investigated in two states and has not been accused of any crimes; so, let’s stop talking about him altogether. Unless any of you are suggesting that law enforecement officials in two states have not done their jobs properly?

    There is no substantive reason for any of this entire ordeal! This has changed the way I feel about living in Loudoun.

  • 2017-03-14 at 9:17 am
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    One of the questions that have yet to be answered is, there are two people who wrote letters of recommendation, yet only one person is being held accountable. Why is that? Where’s Pierson in all this? Are they letting him off the hook because they found their scapegoat? Or maybe he’s retiring and that’s reason enough to not put him through the grinder such as the one Brewer is?

  • 2017-03-13 at 11:21 pm
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    The bigger questions are:

    1. Under what conditions will a teacher be fired instead of allowed to resign for misconduct towards kids? Is sleeping with multiple ex-students once they turn 18 ever a reason to force a teacher out?

    2. Why didn’t the personnel department provide disclaimers to the Florida school and/or parents? Will LCPS provide information to other school systems to avoid passing the trash?

    3. Why isn’t Damron’s license revoked even today?

    I think the public deserves answers to these questions. And none of these questions involve disclosing private personnel information. It’s clear the school board just wants this to go away. Who is looking after our kids? If the school board won’t address these key policies, what other recourse do taxpayers and parents have other than to vote them out? Why in the world is the BOS considering giving this group $93M more when they are completely unaccountable to the public and the BOS?

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