Community Supports Burke at Meeting
Oak Ridge High School Principal Paul Burke has been on paid administrative leave, (not suspension contrary to some reports), since last month with no explanation from the El Dorado Union High School District other than a statement declaring that they are “working through a confidential personnel matter.” An open first section of the El Dorado Union High School District’s regular board meeting at Ponderosa High School on December 8 drew hundreds from the Oak Ridge community in support of Burke, including teachers, parents and students. Those in attendance expressed respectful frustration with the proceedings and overwhelming support for Burke.
“He knows the students on a personal level, as something more than their ID number,” student John Moestopo said. “Paul Burke has made a difference in my life. He has changed my life forever as well as many others, and we are truly grateful for him.”
The social media campaign to support Burke using #BackBurke was pushed across Facebook and Twitter by members of the Oak Ridge High School community. Student
Kylie Harrop-St. John delivered a petition to the board, with over 1,100 signatures in support of Burke. She told the Telegraph that nearly an additional 1,200 signatures were gathered online.
Ann Root, co-founder of the Oak Ridge High School Foundation, a former teacher at the school and current substitute teacher expressed the cautious backing of many of the faculty members. “There have been many rumors going around. Many of the tenured teachers seem to be taken aback. Many teachers did not come because they weren’t sure of the nature of the charges,” she said. “He wants to come back. Please bring Paul back to Oak Ridge High School.”
Student parent Benjamin West echoed the sentiments of many in attendance. “We’re not hoping for Mr. Burke to come back, we’re expecting him to come back,” West said.
No decision on Burke’s future with the school was made. Outgoing school board president Kevin Brown said that he was legally unable to comment on the matter.