BARSTOW • In a narrow vote, the school board of the Barstow Unified School District approved the proposal to change principals at four schools next year, which made official the removal of current Barstow High School Principal Ed Cheek from his position next year.

Teachers, students, parents and school administrators voiced strong opposition to the principal shake-up at the board meeting Tuesday.

Despite ardent support for Cheek from several people who spoke before the board, the members voted 3-2 to approve the changes for next year, including Cheek's removal. Board members Ace Acevedo, Julie Clemmer and Mary Rodriguez voted to approve the change. Members Barbara Rose and Ernest Vogt dissented.

Over 100 people crowded into the meeting room, where staff from the high school had hung a large sign that read "BHS TEACHERS SUPPORT ED CHEEK."

After the decision was finalized by board vote, several people from the crowd let out a collective groan and most of the attendees immediately exited the room.

Cheek did not attend the Tuesday night meeting. He had previously said that  his administrative mentor advised him that it would be "politically" inappropriate to do so.

The board vote approved replacing Cheek next year with Associate Principal Scott Godfrey and bringing Barstow Junior High School Principal Carolyn Norman on board as an assistant principal at the high school.

Students and teachers presented petitions with hundreds of signatures in support of keeping Cheek, several of whom opposed the notion that Cheek was responsible for low test scores at the school.

"The progress Barstow High School has enjoyed this year will vanish," said Don Braden, an English teacher at the high school.

In addition, several teachers and staff opposed the reassigning of principals to different schools next year, citing issues of current budget cuts including the reconfiguration of elementary schools to include fifth- and sixth-graders.

"What we need is the continuity," said Linda Bunch, a language arts teacher at Barstow Junior High School.

"Why, when things are going great, [do] you change them?" said Leticia Ortiz, a secretary at the junior high school.

Norman, who has been at the junior high school three years, also addressed the board, asking them to reconsider her reassignment to the high school.

"I just feel my job at Barstow Junior High School isn't done yet," Norman told the board. "...I don't not feel that this is fair."
She also requested that the board, if they move her, instead consider her for the position of principal at Cameron Elementary, which Barstow Intermediate School Principal Christina San Nicholas was approved to fill.

The proposal to move principals to different schools next year was made by the superintendent, board members and other district administrators, according to Assistant Superintendent of Personnel Jeff Malan.

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Principal changes for next year:
The school board approved the following changes for the 2009-10 school year Tuesday:
• Barstow High School Associate Principal Scott Godfrey will become principal of BHS.
• Cameron Elementary School Principal Derrick Delton will become principal of Barstow Junior High School.
• Barstow Intermediate School Principal Christina San Nicholas will become principal of Cameron Elementary School.
• Barstow Junior High School Principal Carolyn Norman will become assistant principal of Barstow High School.