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EXCLUSIVE: LCPS officials recommended Dominion teacher for new job after ‘alleged incident’

Two Loudoun County Public Schools administrators wrote letters of recommendation for Brian Damron, former Dominion High School band director, after the school system reported an alleged incident of inappropriate behavior to police.

Damron recently stepped down from a position in a Jacksonville, Fla., school after an investigative report by Duval County School Police substantiated claims that he made sexual advances toward a student.

John Brewer, Dominion principal, and Michael Pierson, LCPS music supervisor, wrote recommendations for Damron to prospective employers. According to LCPS, the school division reported an allegation against Damron to the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office in 2014. The investigation didn’t go forward because the incident happened in another county, according to a statement made by LCPS. Damron resigned from his position at Dominion in January 2015 and began working at Stanton College Preparatory School in Florida in August 2015.

“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 for the future of Titan instrumental music,” reads the letter of recommendation written by Brewer, obtained by the Times-Mirror from Duval County Public Schools through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The Dominion principal, who’s held his post at the school since it opened in 2003, abruptly went on leave Dec. 3. The Times-Mirror first reported on the allegations against Damron on Dec. 2. Wayde Byard, public information officer for LCPS, declined to comment on why Brewer went on leave.

Brewer’s letter, dated March 22, 2015, gives a “strong recommendation” for Damron for a position teaching music.

According to LCPS policy, all formal complaints alleging sexual harassment against teachers should be filed with the school's principal.

Brewer was named LCPS' principal of the year in 2010. Since he took leave, a group of parents have started an online petition to reinstate Brewer as principal and to ensure he is not treated as a "scapegoat" by LCPS.

Pierson’s letter, which is not dated but refers to Damron's time at Dominion in the past tense, also gives a positive recommendation for the band director.

“I have no doubt [that] Brian would be a positive addition to your school community,” reads Pierson’s letter. “He is a very talented teacher and will inspire students wherever he is. I recommend him without reservation.”

On Dec. 8, LCPS released a statement about its previous knowledge of allegations against Damron. When LCPS became aware of new allegations against Damron in Florida, the school division says it “promptly” reported the matter to the sheriff's office.

On Dec. 6, the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office told the Times-Mirror the department had opened an investigation into Damron.

According to the Duval County investigative report, Damron told an adult band volunteer “that he left his previous employment due to an allegation by a student of some sort of sexual harassment.” Damron told the band volunteer “it was due to ‘similar allegations,’” but never told him “whether there was any truth in the allegations,” according to the report.

Multiple Stanton students and teachers told Duval County school investigators Damron made references to relationships with former students. One teacher said Damron told him one of the relationships was with a former Dominion student, according to the report.

“Mr. Damron told [a teacher] that at his previous school, Dominion High School, Loudoun County, Virginia, he had a previous band student come back the following year as an instructor,” reads the report. “He admitted to having slept with that previous student, after he came back as an instructor.”

Damron showed pictures of former students he had relationships with to Stanton students, according to the report.

“Mr. Damron pointed to two young men in separate pictures in band uniforms,” reads the report. “He stated that he had had two-year relationships with each of them.”

Damron told a Stanton student he “slept with both of them before,” according to the report. One of the students told Duval County school officials he thought Damron meant he started the relationships after the students graduated and that they looked to be around 18 years old in the photo.

A Loudoun resident who identifies herself as an employee of Loudoun County Public Schools on her Facebook profile commented on a Florida Times-Union article about Damron’s resignation with allegations the teacher showed similar behavior at Dominion.

“This happened at Dominion too,” reads the comment. “Students complained to the administration on multiple occasions about his lewd behavior only to have it not taken seriously. Many students discussed his behavior with the administration but there was never enough proof to have their opinions taken seriously.”

The Loudoun resident continued, “Many students dropped band because of him. So many students suffered because of him and his unprofessional and inappropriate comments. We were so thankful when he left Dominion. So sorry he came there and affected so many more young students.”

LCPS officials declined to comment on the letters of recommendation written by Brewer and Pierson.

Related coverage:

-Former LCPS band director accused of making sexual advances toward students
-Dominion principal goes on leave after allegations against former teacher go public
-Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office opens investigation into former Dominion High School band director
-LCPS reported allegations against former Dominion teacher to police in 2014

Comments


No one can make you write a letter of recommendation—all you have to do is say “no, I prefer not to do so.”  Even if the person requesting same says “my prospective new employer requires one from my previous supervisor” you can still say “I prefer not to do so” without any apparent legal liability.  Where you CAN get in trouble is damning someone in the letter without a paper trail to back it up or failing to tell the subject you are going to be critical. 

That said, I concur that the letter is too cute by half…instead of refusing to write one, Brewer tried to walk a tightrope hoping to generate the least amount of controversy possible.  This gets right back to the central theme of the discussion—the path of least resistance was to pass the trash and hope for the best.

Unfortunately, with individuals with this sort of issue, hoping for the best is ridiculously naive and amounted to possible criminal conspiracy.  When you endanger children, you deserve punishment—no matter how stellar the rest of your life has been.


So now Dr. Brewer is a victim, from what I’m reading. Good grief. Tell that to the young ladies, and from the sounds of it, boys too, who were verbally and physically molested by Damron, under the protective viel that Dr. Brewer sold the student body. The amount of bad words that come to mind to describe someone who would mutilate that trust is incomprehensible.


See new information discovered by Florida Times-Union reported <u>listed here on my Virginia SGP Facebook page.</u>


Although only an excerpt was provided, read Dr Brewer’s words very carefully:
“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 for the future of Titan instrumental music,” reads the letter of recommendation written by Brewer, obtained by the Times-Mirror from Duval County Public Schools through a Freedom of Information Act request.
I wish they shared more of this letter, but the excerpt does not indicate a “strong recommendation”, as the article states. If you boil away the phrasing, it says only that he regrets Damron didn’t have time to implement his music program. It doesn’t give any praise to his job performance.
This looks to me like someone who didn’t want to write a letter, but was pressured by the system to do so. Since the original investigation didn’t go forward, leaving the allegations unsubstantiated, they were probably looking at lawsuits if he didn’t write a letter. So, my guess is that he was pressured from above and begrudgingly wrote in guarded terms.
This kind of thing happens in other professional environments, and it’s an unfortunate symptom of our litigious society. The flavor of it in school systems always seems especially rigid and political.


It has been very disappointing to follow this situation.
Like many parents of previous DHS students, we may not have always agreed with DHS Admin and Dr Brewer’s decisions, but that is part of life.
There can be no doubt of the love and dedication Dr Brewer has shown for the DHS community. His efforts to the school can not be overstated.
Sadly, we all have to live with our decisions.
It is usually fairly easy to know the right thing to do.
Unfortunately, people do not always choose the right path.


There Is Nothing New or Unique Here

We need to be really clear. If LCPS administrators either knew of or had reasonable suspicions of improper behavior by Brian Damron—which led them to “resign” Mr. Damron—and then followed up with a “strong recommendation” “without reservation” to hire him to teach children at other schools, we cannot accept this as a unique occurrence executed by people in a “difficult situation” who didn’t know better.

In 1998, one of the most widely read education publications, describes to a T what could be LCPS’s “Pass the Trash Severance Package” for Brian Damron. In fact, they could have used it as a guide—

“When employees leave amid allegations of misconduct, some school officials don’t just keep quiet. They sing the employees’ praises in letters of reference designed to help them move on.

“That kind of glowing recommendation was at the heart of a California Supreme Court ruling last year that chastised administrators for sugarcoating an employee’s past.

“In that case, a student sued administrators in three districts that had previously employed a middle school vice principal who molested her, as well as the Merced County school system in which the abuse occurred. The administrators wrote letters unreservedly recommending the educator without mentioning that he had repeatedly been investigated for alleged improprieties with students, and had been forced to leave at least two of the three earlier districts.

“The vice principal was charged with molesting two girls, ages 10 and 13, while working in the Livingston Union district in Merced County. He later pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor count, and the 13-year-old sued.

“The parties in the case differed on how serious the earlier allegations were and how much the administrators knew about them. But the key issue before the California high court last year was whether they were obligated to present the full picture of the educator’s qualifications.
Siding with the plaintiff, the court ruled in January 1997 that the girl’s suit, which was settled last spring without a trial, could go forward.

“‘These representations were false and misleading in light of defendants’ alleged knowledge of charges of [the employee’s] repeated sexual improprieties,’ the court concluded.
Letters of reference also became an issue in Minnesota this year after the arrest of a high school teacher in the St. Paul suburb of Norwood Young America. Robert Pannier, 30, was convicted in August of having sex with a 15-year-old female student at his home in January after calling in sick.

“It quickly surfaced that Mr. Pannier had been cited for inappropriate behavior with students in other nearby districts before arriving at Norwood Young America Central High School in 1996, including one in which two administrators wrote him positive recommendations.

It will be instructive to see how further emerging details inform our understanding of our administrators’ decisions and actions.


Is it true that Debbie Rose is interfering in the personnel decisions/investigation personally?  Is she passing information from parents directly to the LCPS investigators?

Is it also true that LCPS’ personnel department is refusing to accept statements from parents with children who had Damron as a teacher?  The “hear-no-evil” approach?

I certainly hope LSCO asks questions of the school board members, like Debbie Rose, who are clearly involved in the day-to-day operations of the schools in her district.  While not appropriate, this makes Rose culpable just as much as the LCPS administrators.


This is such a shame that the kids and parents had to endure this and the “powers to be” ignored their complaints! Where there is smoke, there is fire and for Dr. Brewer to write such a glowing recommendation for someone that he knew had complaints against them is horrendous. I know that parents love him, but the facts do call into question his own integrity for even agreeing to write the recommendation letter!!


And people wonder why so many are choosing to home school.


This is unfortunately another episode of the LCPS Amateur Hour. It started with the email over the weekend announcing the acting principal and has spiraled out of control since. Why would an organization do that? The school system is in desperate need of a public relations officer, not just a PIO. Two entirely different skill sets.Once something plays out in a public fashion like this, all involved are harmed whether they are guilty of wrongdoing or totally innocent.


There should be a lot of people at LCPS that lose their jobs for this.  We must end the protectionism that envelops the school district and start taking real action against these enablers.  Drain THIS swamp!


If your signature is on a recommendation letter for a pedophile, that’s not a good look.


Tragically ironic. That’s the only way to describe the petition to LCPS Superintendent Eric Williams asking that John Brewer not be “treated as a ‘scapegoat.’”

Tragic in that John Brewer, by all accounts a “good person” and very capable administrator and educator, will likely fall when the dust settles. Ironic in that everyone is requesting his salvation from the person who likely set him up.

By that logic, Superintendent Williams will have to fall on his own sword to save Principal Brewer. How likely is that?

We don’t know everything about this horrible situation—and probably never will—but as details come to light, it’s appears the Brian Damron case follows the “Pass the Trash” blueprint thousands of school systems across the country have been employing for decades (as described by the <u>Boston Globe,</u> <u>The Economist,</u> <u>Education Week,</u> and <u>WFAA-TV Dallas-Ft. Worth</u>): teachers and students report suspicions and incidents to administrators; administrators, reluctant to act for fear of publicity and direct confrontation with a colleague, do nothing or issue verbal admonishments to the teacher (often multiple times over multiple years); an incident occurs that threatens to put the teacher’s behaviors in the public eye and administrators cut a deal with the teacher, resulting in “resignation” and promises to help with the predator’s job search.

By LCPS’s own statements, it appears Brian Damron got the usual “Passing the Trash” Golden Parachute.

What Eric Williams, Michael Pierson, and John Brewer must ask themselves is, “Does going along with the system justify endangering more children?” In this case, it appears that their actions led directly to a horribly dangerous experience for a 15-year-old in Florida, a situation foreseeable given the events that led to Brian Damron’s departure from Dominion High School.

Some studies estimate that 25% of females and 10% of males in grades 8 through 11 are sexually harassed by school staff; others place the numbers much higher at 82% and 18%, respectively. This raises the question of how frequently do schools quietly cut deals with these teachers? The WFAA-TV investigation “found 30 teachers who, over the past five years, were accused of physically and sexually abusing students. In the majority of the cases, an internal district investigation determined the accusations were true. Yet all 30 teachers were allowed to resign. Eighteen of the teachers got jobs in other school districts, records show, including Arlington, Crowley, DeSoto, Garland, Grand Prairie, Hurst-Euless-Bedford, Irving, Lancaster, Plano and Richardson.” That’s 30 teachers out of about 6,000 in just five years — keep in mind that LCPS employs more than that. Maybe someone should (FOIA-)ask LCPS how many PtT deals have been cut in addition to Brian Damron.

Carol Bludworth in American Secondary Education in 1996 pointed out that “In the past, the practice of allowing teachers considered guilty of sexual misbehavior to resign out of fear of lawsuits has allowed these individuals to become mobile molesters. They have had long careers as molesters moving from one school to another, in each case finding new victims.” In In her article, “Stop Passing the Trash: The Principal’s Role in Confronting Sexual Abuse,“she has a message for John Brewer: “Today not only should your conscience prevent you from participating in this ritual passing the trash but the law will prevent you as well.”

The online petition supporting Dr. Brewer is replete with praise for his character and judgment. If Principal Brewer is the person and educator so many believe, perhaps he can be the one to put a stop to the ritual of “Passing the Trash” in Loudoun County. He would be faced with the same decision he faced 18 months ago when he recommended a predator to a school system in Florida—risk of job and income loss for not being a team player—but it would be an opportunity to reduce the irony from a system that too often is focused on benefiting itself rather than its students. Even students at other schools.


Let me say this.  Remember when various political operatives raised frivolous criminal complaints against Sheriff Chapman and Chairman York right before the election?  They were plastered all over these local newspapers.

Apparently, another criminal complaint was recently referred to a special prosecutor from an outside county.  But this time, the complaint was not deemed frivolous but accurate.  Why haven’t you seen this printed in these papers despite the opinion being provided to reporters?  It will surface in the near future.  Let’s see which paper actually prints it. 

I don’t make frivolous complaints.

And based on the comments of Loudoun4Trump, DD, DLD and others, it appears there are quite a few ethical citizens who are concerned about reforming our institutions here in Loudoun.  Thanks.


I looked up Brian and am impressed with his initiative to hold our LCPS teachers and school board accountable.  It seems Brian is trying to bring data and facts about the school system to the attention of authorities and the community, but is silenced by those who do not want to held accountable to any standard—there is the rub.  I prefer a high performing school system (particularly with the amount of money we pay for it) than the status quo that allows pedophiles in to teach our kids and then gives him a recommendation to continue his abuse….VA SGP for school board chairman!


i dont agree with LCPSParent but they are correct on checking out Virginia SGP, aka parent Brian Davison, wow!


Time for the school board to look at policies to ensure predatory pedophiles like Damron are not allowed into the school system…the LCPS sure do cover up quite a bit of filth that goes on in our schools…I haven’t seen a comment from Wade Byard yet?  he is so quick with the school closings, but no where to be found when something like this happens…


Not sure that anybody was ‘duped’.  More likely they wanted to be rid of the situation and wrote these letters of recommendation to get this possible pedophile far away from them and pray that it would take years until he slipped up.  Well, here we are.  Time to gut the admin at LCPS.


Oh, and how can the public trust anything that comes out of this investigation by LCPS when it is very likely that responsibility goes all the way to the top? 

Why can’t we have truly outside investigators?


It’s because of apologists like LCPSParent that priests get recycled around with no consequences to the bishops. 

It’s because of folks like LCPSParent that Williams, Rose, Hornberger, and others have our school system of the verge of moral bankruptcy and violate Virginia and federal laws left and right.  These LCPS officials only care about good press for themselves.  They couldn’t care less about the students.  Com to think of it, I wonder if one of them is posing as LCPSParent.


How’s that diversity at any cost working for you, Williams? Busy adding full day kindergarten is not a excuse for a roaming predator amongst the children. Williams and Rose both screwed the pooch!


I am very disappointed. Brewer spoke all the time about acting with integrity. I wonder how he was able to write a letter this positive without throwing up.
I hope that whatever the consequences, they are shared by Brewer’s supervisor, Pierson, and any others who were in the loop but allowed Damron to go and repeat his perverted behavior elsewhere.


I’m not following. What, may I ask, is the “smoking gun?” And folks, please research “Virginia SGP.” This guy is downright scary…please do some research on him.

Two individuals gave recommendations for someone who duped them. My guess is that they both regret it. Do some research on the “allegations” that were supposedly reported to the police while you’re at it. They were related to alcohol consumption by an underage adult (18), nothing else.


Time to install HD video and audio recording in every room in schools except restrooms.


Well, there’s your smoking gun. Brewer’s gone for sure. Shame.


Supt Williams, Dr. Hough, Pierson, and Brewer all must go. As they say in the NCAA, this is a loss of institutional control.

This was Debbie Rose’s district. It is hard to imagine she had not heard such rumors. If she did, Rose should resign too.

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