“Bring Brewer Back!”
Signs with the simple message were displayed throughout the School Board meeting room Tuesday night, penned by current and former Dominion High School students, parents and staff members in support of Principal John Brewer.
The former principal of the year has been on leave for almost two weeks. School system administrators have said they cannot specify why Brewer is on leave, 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.
The Sheriff’s Office’s investigation was prompted by reports from a 15-year-old student in Jacksonville, FL, that Damron had made sexual advances toward him. Duval County Public Schools in Florida hired Damron last year after he abruptly resigned from Loudoun County Public Schools. School records show that Brewer, and another Loudoun administrator, wrote letters of recommendations that Damron submitted to Duval County Public Schools, as part of his application. The investigation is looking into whether any criminal activity took place in Loudoun.
Bill Raye, former principal at Horizon Elementary School, has been appointed as Dominion’s interim principal.
But the dozens who spoke in front of the Loudoun County School Board Tuesday asked for their school leader back. They described him as one of the county’s most beloved educators. They said he is the principal who arrives at school early and leaves late, spends most of his weekends attending students’ games and performances, and starts each school year by visiting every new student’s home to greet them in person.
“He’s the kind of man that Hollywood would make movies about,” Ajay Chadha, a parent, said when addressing the School Board. He said Brewer takes the time to memorize every student’s name, that’s 300 new names each school year. “All I ask is that you reinstate Dr. Brewer so Hollywood can see a happy ending.”
Pat Mancuso noted that Brewer helped get Generosity Feeds off the ground several years ago, and it’s now a national movement to feed hungry children. She described the principal as a man of “immeasurable character.”
“To have his reputation tarnished like this—we ask you to be quick and fair in getting judgment and reinstate him,” she said.
After the lengthy public comment portion of Tuesday’s meeting, Superintendent Eric Williams did not specifically address the situation at Dominion, but offered a few words for those who packed the boardroom.
“I want to acknowledge the input that’s been provided,” he said. “I appreciate the dedication of our speakers—from our students, to our staff members, and to our school communities. And please know that board members and staff members carefully consider all information in making the decisions regarding the topics that have been addressed.”
Wayde Byard, the school system’s public information officer, said very little information can be released about Brewer’s leave or Damron’s investigation because they are personnel matters that the law requires to remain private.
A petition at Change.org in support of Brewer has more than 1,680 signatures.