Spotsylvania County Public Schools

Dismissal of Riverbend principal Downs upheld at hearing

by | Feb 29, 2024 | ALLFFP, Lead Story, Schools & Education, Spotsylvania

An independent hearing officer recommended Wednesday that the first-year Riverbend High School principal who was placed on administrative leave in December should be dismissed. 

Xavier Downs said he received the ruling on Wednesday evening. He said the Spotsylvania County School Board will make the final decision on his future at Riverbend within the next 30 days, and possibly as soon as Monday night’s meeting. 

Spotsylvania County School Board Chair Lorita Daniels said the board is still reviewing the situation and offered no further comment. 

Downs said that the controversy surrounding the Riverbend swim team stemming from a contentious December meeting was not listed as cause for his dismissal. 

Instead, he claims the reason given concerned his inability to secure a Virginia educator’s license. He is licensed in Alaska and Texas.

Downs’ contract requires him to either hold a Virginia license in full force, complete the requirements for a Virginia license and filed an application or will qualify for a Virginia license prior to the effective date of employment, which in his case was July 1, 2023.

Downs said the Virginia Department of Education informed him he is not eligible for a Virginia educator’s license until April.  

During the hearing, which was conducted by an officer contracted by the school board earlier this month, Downs’ legal representation brought up the swim team issue as the reason school officials wanted to dismiss their client. 

Downs said that that was the only time that the swim team controversy, in which he got into a heated exchange with a parent, was mentioned.  

Downs said that if the school board supports his termination, he will file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission because “that has to be done to ensure equitable treatment, and I have been advised to do so, as well.”  

Downs said he ultimately wants to continue working at Riverbend. 

“Nobody wants to be treated unfairly,” Downs said. “There was no reason for them to try to short-circuit the process and treat me unfairly. I believe it’s more beneficial for the students and the community to see that we can work through things and solve problems.” 

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