BARSTOW • Principal Ed Cheek's vision for Barstow High School has been cut short by district officials, according to English teacher Connie Born.

Born said that since he arrived, Cheek has let students know that he had a "positive attitude" about the high school's potential "and they sense it," she said.

"It doesn't give him a chance to carry it through," said Born.

Many students and staff at the high school shared Born's sentiment as members of the BHS community reacted on Thursday to Cheek's planned removal as principal by the end of the school year.

Cheek told his staff Wednesday that he had recently received a notice from district officials reassigning him to an elementary teaching position next school year, removing him as BHS principal.

Students like 10th-grader Austin Wilkey said they were angry when they heard that Cheek might be removed, and signed student-circulated petitions in support of Cheek.

"I was mad. He's a good principal," said Wilkey, who said that the attitude towards discipline on campus had changed since Cheek came on board at the beginning of the school year.

"He's nice and strict at the same time," said Wilkey. "He enforces the law, and I like that. It teaches kids they can't just do whatever they want."

Students like 11th-grader Jacqueline Vargas also said they felt that discipline had gotten stricter this year and cited examples like district-wide truancy sweeps.

Randy Ehresman, who has worked in the district for 35 years — at BHS for 16 years — said he was "devastated" when he heard the news.

"He's one I wish we could keep for a while," Ehresman said.

"I've never seen the staff at the high school so unified," he said.

Born said several of her students already knew about the upcoming board meeting and planned to voice support for their principal.
Cheek's termination must stilll be approved by the school board.

Born said her students felt that removing Cheek based on test scores was unfair.

"How can that be his fault?" Born recalled her students asking her in class Thursday.

"I think they should wait for the state test scores," said Wilkey, referring to the California Standardized Test, which will be given to students after  spring break.

Henderson Elementary School Principal Jan Rhoads said she had heard rumors about Cheek's possible removal, and said that staff reassignments due to closing Barstow Intermediate School have created uncertainty among administrators.

"It's all kind of chaotic right now," said Rhoads.

"It's an uncomfortable time ... administrators serve at the will of the school board," she said.

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(760) 256-4122 or elee@desertdispatch.com