BARSTOW • District officials have notified Barstow High School Principal Ed Cheek that he will not be working at the school next year.
Cheek announced to his staff Wednesday that he was given a letter from the district on Friday stating that he had been reassigned to an elementary school teaching position for next school year.

Cheek said he has been working in school administration for the past 20 years and noted that the offer to teach elementary school effectively terminated his employment with the district.

"They know darn well I'm not going to do [that]," said Cheek on Wednesday, noting that the elementary position offer still stands.

"I was in shock, to say the least," Cheek said about receiving the notice. "I don't have to like it, but I have to respect it."

Cheek, who was hired by BUSD in July 2008, said he will be finishing out the school year at BHS and will be replaced next fall.

According to teachers who attended the staff meeting, Cheek said district officials cited low test scores and a lack of instructional leadership at BHS as the reasons for removing him as principal.

Cheek's termination must still be finalized with school board approval, and will likely be on the April 28 meeting agenda.

Superintendent Susan Levine and Assistant Superintendent of Personnel Jeff Malan both refused to comment on any issues dealing with Cheek's employment with the district.

BHS teacher Jon Bonvillain said that some teachers were in disbelief when Cheek addressed his staff.

"This is a heck of a thing to do before state testing," said Bonvillain, who noted that California Standardized Testing begins for high school students after spring break.

Math teacher Patty Jacobs said she and other teachers did not understand how Cheek's performance could be determined by school test scores, since he had been at the school for about seven months.

Jacobs also said that some BHS staff have already begun planning to petition the district's decision and show support for Cheek.

Before coming to BHS, Cheek was the vice principal at Tehachapi High School  in the Tehachapi Unified School District, which is about 85 miles west of Barstow. Cheek was given a sudden termination notice there in March 2008, when district officials notified Cheek that he was "nonreelect," meaning that the district could terminate him without giving reason.

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