Loudoun Board Reinstates Principal Brewer on Probationary Status

Principal John Brewer will be allowed to return to Dominion High School, following a split vote of the Loudoun County School Board.

After its second four-hour closed session meeting in one week, the board on Monday night voted to reinstate the principal.

Technically, the board voted to terminate his position, and rehire him as principal effective April 17. He will be unpaid during that period. If he accepts the offer, Brewer will forfeit his continuing contract status and continue as principal on a probationary period, with contracts to be renewed annually, for three years.

Chairman Jeff Morse (Dulles) said Brewer will have to undergo a “plan of improvement” as set forth by Superintendent Eric Williams, who had recommended the board fire the principal. He would be required to take child abuse and neglect reporting training, and constitutional law training related to religion in public schools. He must also: provide appropriate and timely communication with supervisors, the human resources department and Public Information Officer Wayde Byard; recognize and report incidences of inappropriate relationships between students and staff; and be removed from any and all clubhouse activities. Clubhouse is a homeroom program Brewer established to connect with academically at-risk students at Dominion.

Brewer has 10 days to decide whether to accept the position and terms.

The vote to reinstate Brewer as principal was split, with board members Eric Hornberger (Ashburn), Brenda Sheridan (Sterling), and Jill Turgeon (Blue Ridge) opposed.

The decision comes after three months of unrest in the Dominion High School community. Brewer, named the county’s Principal of the Year in 2010, has been on leave since Dec. 2. 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.

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 making sexual advances toward a 15-year-old student. An investigative report from the Duval County Public Schools 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. Damron has not been charged with any crimes.

Rachel Brewer (far left), wife of John Brewer, waits with Dominion parents at Monday’s closed session meeting. [Danielle Nadler/Loudoun Now]
Members of the Dominion community have packed School Board meetings for the past three months, recounting stories of Brewer going above and beyond his job description to mentor students, encourage staff and create a tight-knit school community. Some parents went so far as to accuse Williams of making Brewer the scapegoat in the controversial situation and called for the superintendent’s resignation.

It came to light last week that the superintendent requested that Damron’s Virginia teaching license be revoked in a letter to Virginia Department of Education on Jan. 17, two years after complaints were first raised about the teacher. Williams’ written request states that Damron, while working at Dominion, had “engaged in numerous behaviors that were inappropriate and that had a direct and detrimental effect on the health, welfare, discipline, and morale of students.”

Williams released a statement on Friday saying that his office requested the band director’s teaching license be revoked only after new information came to light in late 2016. It did not specify what was known in 2014 and what surfaced in recent months.

On Monday evening, 15 people, mostly Dominion parents, sat and waited to hear the board’s decision. Among them sat the principal’s wife, Rachel Brewer.  She is also an employee of Loudoun County Public Schools; she teaches at Mill Run Elementary in Ashburn.

In an interview with Loudoun Now following Monday’s decision, she said she had not yet texted her husband the news. But said, “I just want God to be glorified through everything. And I’m so thankful for all of the beautiful Titan staff, parents and students.”

School Board members left the meeting without taking questions from the press.

Debbie Rose (Algonkian), whose district includes Dominion High School, posted a comment on her public Facebook page late Monday. “Tonight I, along with my fellow school board members, made a difficult decision in what has been a very difficult process for everyone involved. I will try to issue a statement on my vote, but it is complicated by VA employee privacy laws. But for now, I would respectfully ask that the community focus on the students of DHS. It is my hope and belief that starting on April 17, the process of healing can begin and that DHS will continue to thrive and be a place where all students feel welcome, respected and challenged to live a life of significance.”

dnadler@loudounnow.com
twitter.com/danielle_nadler

16 thoughts on “Loudoun Board Reinstates Principal Brewer on Probationary Status

  • 2017-03-21 at 7:56 pm
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    This fiasco is a direct reflection of the way Williams “leads” LCPS. The board made a huge mistake in hiring this man and now they have to clean up the messes he leaves in his wake. There is no leadership – ask any veteran teacher or any administrator their true feelings about his tenure thus far. He is not visible to the schools nor the community in general, rather he issues “initiatives” that have not been well planned, nor thought out. ” Bring your own technology- how’s that working out for LCPS? Full day kindergarten? In school buildings bursting at the seams already?

    Williams is no leader – he’s playing a role and doing it badly.
    The board needs to think long and hard about continuing his contract or the fine school system built over the years will be no longer.

    • 2017-03-21 at 10:34 pm
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      Williams carries out the will of the board. And he takes the heat for them. Why do you think the board raised his salary and extended his contract early? If you were a cowardly politician and could defleet onto an administrator who wasn’t allowed to defend himself, don’t you think you would love to find a Williams?

      This board should be accountable. Until the public sees through their veil of secrecy and demands accountability or votes them out, we will get what we deserve. So far, that is incompetence and non-transparency.

      • 2017-03-23 at 9:25 am
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        I believe he was hired as a puppet of the school board for the sole purpose of decreasing the budget. They incorrectly thought he could carry out other duties of a superintendent with competence. Unfortunately, they thought wrong. He’s bungled so many other things that have not come to the attention of the school board; if they knew, he’d be under close scrutiny.

  • 2017-03-21 at 12:46 pm
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    I’m confused….what does religion and after school clubs have to do with a teacher who has abused students?? Was the band teacher having a club?
    WHY has LCPS not fired the band teacher when the 2014 case was put to the police?????? That is negligent!
    No principal is allowed to fire any teacher in their policies.
    LCPS is really in deep doo-doo on this and hoping to get away with it because they think that christians like brewer won’t stand up for themselves. Easy scapegoat for LCPS!

  • 2017-03-21 at 10:19 am
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    What about Michael Pierson? Where is his accountability? Where are the stories on his role in all of this?

  • 2017-03-21 at 9:05 am
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    First, let me say that the support for Brewer demonstrated he has positively affected a lot of lives. I felt bad that he would be fired instead of being offered another position. I do not know the full list of charges so I cannot say exactly what action should have been taken.

    However, the school board’s actions are inexplicable here. In voting to terminate Brewer, they tacitly acknowledged that some of his actions, or inaction, must have been egregious enough to warrant serious repercussions. Then, they voted to offer him a probationary position. As I’ve said above and before, this makes sense given the time and energy he has invested in students. But then their decision goes awry.

    The school board indicated that Brewer failed to identify cases of abuse and didn’t understand the constitutional law regarding religious freedom. Clearly that indicates that he failed to support students in need of help. And it indicates that he likely received complaints and either sat on them (not reporting up the chain) or did not conduct full investigations. So why on Earth would they put him back in that same environment?! It’s almost certain that some of the whistle blowers are still at Dominion. It’s like putting the abuser (or the enabler like senior Penn St officials) back in charge when the whistle blowers were found to be credible. It’s a slap in their face. At the very least, he should have been assigned to a new school.

    I liken it to the infamous words of Supt Hatrick when he told the teachers at LVHS to stop spreading “rumors” and support Principal Susan Ross who was shown to have pressured teachers to inflate grades and overseen alleged cheating on SpEd tests. It basically tells students and teachers alike you better not cross a corrupt official in charge because even if you are correct and bring your claims all the way to the top that corrupt or insensitive official will still retain power over you. Would anybody ever put a caretaker who willfully let their child be sexually abused back in the home with that child? It doesn’t matter that the caretaker wasn’t the one abusing the child, the child would be terrified because of he/she would be powerless in seeking help. So why are they doing it here?

    This is scary stuff. I’m not saying Brewer doesn’t deserve a second chance. I’m simply saying parents and teachers better be willing to take their claims to court to get justice because the school board appears willing to tell them they just have to deal with administrators who ignore their pleas for help.

    • 2017-03-21 at 2:39 pm
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      the key part of you post, DGP is “I don’t know…” You don’t know but you insist on posting and trying to link this situation to a totally separate one. You continue to rage against everything LCPS despite you admission of ignorance. Let me say that I don’t know why you do this. But, I won’t offer an opinion about your mental state since like you, I can only project my own feelings. I will refrain from suggesting that you are far more scary than the school board.

      • 2017-03-22 at 8:54 am
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        Alex Fogelson, let’s review the facts.

        1. Your beloved school board is being criticized on all fronts. The BOS thinks they are incompetent and undisciplined with their financial resources. The majority of the county believes they allowed a sexual predator to resign in a “pass the trash” move. The parents at Dominion feel they tried to pin all the blame on Brewer for the fiasco that was Damron.

        2. The BOS cut the tax rate on the backs of the bloated LCPS budget request.

        3. Four members of the school board were found by a special prosecutor to have violated the conflict of interest laws.

        4. Loudoun residents have to read details of what happened in Florida newspapers because of Virginia’s lax disclosure rules and threats by LCPS against the newspapers for reporting more details.

        LCPS is held in lower regard than virtually any public institution in the county. This is the result of the corruption/incompetence of the school board and blind supporters like yourself. Neither you nor the school board has an ounce of credibility. Just like Rdj, you are one of the biggest reasons for that. I will repeat: I am not paying CareerSwitcher to post these incriminating comments.

        • 2017-03-22 at 4:31 pm
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          SGP, I am not making any statement regarding my view of the Brewer case. What I will do is ask here what information you have to make such generalized remarks about the entire LCPS as an entity? “majority of the county believes”, “bloated LCPS budget”, “is held in lower regard than any public institution in the county”? The least you could do is offer these up as your opinion be it informed or uninformed.
          Facts or state it as opinion only. JMHO.

          • 2017-03-22 at 9:29 pm
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            Precisely, 90sLoudouner.

          • 2017-03-23 at 7:41 am
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            90s, fair enough. I do not know those things as facts.

            Maybe you can share your beliefs. In FY16, LCPS was able to move from a negative $17M self-insurance fund balance to a $23.8M positive balance. It was so large, and unneeded, that the County recouped some of that funding.

            Even with that excess insurance fund, LCPS had $22M left over at the end of FY16 that it couldn’t spend. It’s initial projection was $0 in leftover balance and its midyear review projected $9M.

            LCPS asked for a 9% funding increase despite those facts listed above. Some of this includes knowingly inflated (more than is needed) funding for pay raises and double-counting on personnel for new schools. That’s one reason they had so much left over in prior years.

            Do you personally think the LCPS budget is well-managed and accurately projected?

            Do you personally have faith in LCPS administrators to handle student complaints about teacher misconduct fairly to the student? Do you think administrators will inform the public so the citizens can properly weigh in or do you think LCPS keeps such policies/decisions secret so nobody knows the full extent of the problem?

            It reminds one of federal politicians. Both sides do it but the Benghazi affair comes to mind. At the outset, the administration says we must wait till the investigation is over before commenting. Once the 1+ year investigation is over, they say it’s long since history and no need to revisit it. When exactly do the taxpayers, parents and students get to discuss substantial issues and actions by the school board and LCPS?

  • 2017-03-21 at 7:20 am
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    Which LCPS administrators will be faulted as well for coercing a principal to violate procedures and write a letter of recommendation for Mr. Damron? Someone above the Principal’s level disregarded policies that would have prevented this. It isn’t the Principal’s job to approve resignations of staff members who have a record of accusations against them. That comes from above. Mr. Brewer does not operate in a vacuum.

  • 2017-03-20 at 11:30 pm
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    An Open Letter to the Loudoun County School Board: A Metaphor of Murder

    Can there be an explanation? Can there be an explanation of what you have done? Some will call it slander; others defamation. No, what you have done is much worse. You have killed the spirit inside the man. Is there no justice left? Can thou who placed themselves at the center of entire community of students, parents, teacher, alumni – a family—truly not see their own corruption? How can this be morally and ethically permissible within the human conscience? What have you done?

    I ask these questions to evoke the truth within each member of the school board, in order to portray the wrongdoings committed this evening of March 20th, 2017. The night that you have murder a man. You denied him his existence for months. You villainize him as thousands rally around him. You allowed media to present the case as though we have become divided, but have united in flocks unseen before in School Board meetings. But worst of all, you killed the dreams of thousands of students who believed in the system – a system of speaking out and displaying their emotions and passions in support of others. A system built by an incredible man where we are taught to care for others. I can guarantee many speakers whom pleaded with you would have been speaking out for the first time. You destroyed those who counted on Dr. Brewer to believe in them when no one else did. You killed a man tonight and I am sure you will never forget. As we mourned our lose, you relished in our pain, possibly savored drawing out the execution. While we are ecstatic to see his opportunity to return, you made it so he can never be the same under your constant eye of scrutiny. Did you turn a blind eye to the right? Did you not see our desperation? Our fortitude unwaivered, yet you strip this man of everything he and we believed in.

    Some of you wanted to see him brought back—you must have. Somewhere during all those meetings when we poured our hearts out to you and begged you with tears in our eyes and passion in our hearts. Surely, you must have been moved by this man’s actions. You must have wanted us, the underdogs, to win. Still falling to the whims of Dr. William’s witch hunt in the pursuit to purge the school system of those who do not see the school system the way he does; an endless and ever cranking factory. Can Dr. Williams honestly say that with his contract which includes, according to Loudoun Now, a “compensation package of $357,800, including a base salary of $260,000… a $12,000 annual car allowance and a $30,000 salary deferral,” he would gave a single penny of his own to better the life of a student under his care. Dr. Brewer gives much more; his heart, his soul, his mind—every thought he has is how to better our school community. How can he reach out to decrease the number of students using illegal substances, how can he help those students who lack financial capital to feel included in every event that goes on in Titan Territory, how can he make Dominion better—the best? I am sure that these are not all consuming thoughts to Dr. Williams. I suppose one principal, in one high school, in one county, in one state seems so menial in the grand scheme. So trivial in the big picture of students, school buses, teachers and more. Yet you saw how we came, how we congregated, how we persisted, how we depended on you. You witnessed his deeds through us–through our character, our love, and our commitment.

    You have killed us all.

    • 2017-03-28 at 11:38 pm
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      Dude, stop. You’re embarrassing yourself.

      Writing a Shakspearean tragedy over the LCPS School Board is nothing but an excellent waste of your time. Enjoy the finer things in life instead of wailing about how your existence has been stamped out by some old guy who drives a Ferrari.

      And no, he hasn’t killed any of us.

  • 2017-03-20 at 11:06 pm
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    Lcps confirms that publicly sector employees have no accountability

  • 2017-03-20 at 11:01 pm
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    Dr. Brewer is one of the most amazing leaders I have ever had the honor of meeting. If Dr. Brewer is not up to LCPS standards and can have only his position back with restrictions, then we all should be worried about our jobs!

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