Education

El Dorado school district votes not to reinstate Oak Ridge principal

Video: Oak Ridge students search for answers after principal's firing

The El Dorado Union High School District board of trustees has voted not to reinstate Principal Paul Burke of Oak Ridge High School in El Dorado Hills. Burke had been placed on administrative leave since Nov. 2 while the school district gathered i
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The El Dorado Union High School District board of trustees has voted not to reinstate Principal Paul Burke of Oak Ridge High School in El Dorado Hills. Burke had been placed on administrative leave since Nov. 2 while the school district gathered i

The El Dorado Union High School District board of trustees has voted not to reinstate Principal Paul Burke of Oak Ridge High School in El Dorado Hills.

Burke had been placed on administrative leave since Nov. 2 while the school district gathered information about an undisclosed personnel matter. Superintendent Stephen Wehr last month declined to provide any information about why Burke was placed on leave, calling it a "confidential personnel matter."

Without naming an individual, a press release from the district on Tuesday said trustees were directing Wehr to notify a principal that he would be released from his position at the end of the school year.

In response, an attorney representing Burke, Jacob D. Flesher said that his client will take the district to court. Flesher said that district administrators and trustees left Burke no choice.

“We will be filing a lawsuit in federal court on Mr. Burke's behalf against the El Dorado Union High School District, Superintendent Stephen Wehr, Assistant Superintendent Tony DeVille, and other District employees for unlawful retaliation, discrimination based on a perceived disability, defamation, and violations of the Brown Act,” Flesher said in a press release.

Two parents' groups have formed to support Burke: "Back Burke" whose members have swamped two trustee meetings where they expressed large support for the principal. They have created a Twitter page for the effort.

And in recent days a new parent group, El Dorado Parents 4 District Change has organized. They have about 30 very active members, according to co-chairman Brent Lowder.

The new group is warning that if the administration doesn't do something after all these months, there needs to be change at the top.

An outside consultant was previously hired to help the superintendent identify the issues and solutions surrounding the undisclosed personnel matter. That report was presented to the board last week.

Some people responding to news of the board's action on Twitter and on El Dorado Parents for District Change noted that students were going to stage a sit-in on the Oak Ridge campus in protest Tuesday. Some people also had suggested keeping kids out of school in protest.

Lowder said El Dorado Parents for District Change formed because of concerns about “how the process was proceeding” after Burke was placed on leave. He said the group likely will call on the board of trustees to investigate how the district administration dealt with the matter.

Ultimately, he said, parents’ dissatisfaction will likely be dealt with through the election process. Two of the five trustee seats are up for election this year.

Cathy Locke: 916-321-5287, @lockecathy

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