Rachel Brewer was the eighth speaker out of more than 80 to take to the floor at the Loudoun County Public School Board meeting Tuesday night. Like all the speakers present, the first-grade teacher from Mill Run elementary was given a minute to state her points to the School Board.
But as the wife of embattled principal-on-leave Dr. John Brewer, Mrs. Brewer's comments were especially noteworthy.
"When John and I came here to teach over 22 years ago, it was about much more than teaching. It was two incredibly broken people with a desire to show other broken people that they mattered, that their home life, their mistakes their poor choices didn't have to define them -- that each day is a new day, a new hope for the future, to make our lives and the world around us a better place," Brewer said. "When John had the privilege 15 years ago to open Dominion, he had the unique opportunity to install that attitude of hope from the start, first in bringing two very different communities together and then bringing a incredible staff of teachers to serve the Titans. He's served Dominion with a continued vision that he most of all is broken and daily needs the willingness to say I'm sorry."
There was a Valentine's Day theme among attendees at the board meeting. Some wore red and carried heart-shaped balloons.
Other speakers, including Chris Brent, talked about finding "a home" at Dominion High thanks to Dr. Brewer. Brent said he spent his childhood living in shelters.
Deborah Powers recalled a time when Dr. Brewer got on the school bus at the end of the day to say, "Miss Powers, I forgot to wish you a happy birthday."
Dave Bridgeland was 28th speaker to address the board. He had a concise message: "Fire [Superintendent] Eric Williams before he pushes more principals to leave."
Brewer was placed on leave in December 2016, a move that coincided with an investigation into the behavior of former Dominion band director Brian Damron. As first reported by the Times-Mirror, Brewer wrote a letter of recommendation for Brian Damron to employers in Florida, even after the Loudoun County Public School system reported an alleged incident of inappropriate behavior involving Damron to police in November 2014. The investigation didn't go forward because the incident happened in another county, according to a statement made by LCPS.
Damron went on to be hired by the Florida school system and then resigned, Nov. 1, 2016 after an investigation substantiated claims that he made sexual advances toward a student there. No charges were filed.
According to Loudoun County School Board member Debbie Rose (Algonkian), LCPS Superintendent Eric Williams has recommended Brewer be terminated from his position. School system officials have largely remained quiet on the situation, providing few details or updates surrounding the investigation.
Last month LCPS issued a statement saying "several weeks to multiple months may elapse between an employee taking leave in connection with an investigation and action by the School Board on a recommendation for dismissal."
The statement went on, "The time this process requires is not solely dependent on the timing of actions by LCPS, but instead is also significantly affected by the timing of actions of others, including the involved employee and his/her attorney."
To date LCPS hasn't confirmed a time line as to when a decision on the fate of Dr. Brewer will be made.
While hundreds of LCPS parents, students and former students have spoke out in support of Brewer in recent months, others, largely wishing to remain anonymous for fear of retribution should Brewer return, have expressed relief over his absence.
Anti-Brewer voices have argued the principal, in effect, endangered students by endorsing Damron for future employment.
While yard and highway signs have sprouted up in the Dominion community calling for Brewer's reinstatement, at least one was altered to say "Don't Bring Back Brewer."
"What if it were your child?" the sign read.