Spotsylvania School Board terminates Riverbend Principal Downs

by | Mar 4, 2024 | ALLFFP, Lead Story, Schools & Education, Spotsylvania

The Spotsylvania County School Board voted Monday night to terminate the contract of Riverbend High School Principal Xavier Downs. 

The board voted, 4-2, to follow the recommendation of an independent hearing officer to fire Downs, who had been on administrative leave since December. 

Board Chair Lorita Daniels referred to Downs as “Employee A” when she asked if there was a motion to follow the recommendation of the hearing officer to terminate the employee. 

“If you heard anything about a hearing officer, I’m the only one who has been under that scope,” Downs said following the decision. 

Daniels, Livingston District representative Megan Jackson, Courtland representative Carol Medawar and Chancellor District representative Belen Rodas voted in favor of Downs’ dismissal. Lisa Phelps and April Gillespie of the Lee Hill and Berkeley Districts, respectively, voted against the motion. Battlefield District representative Nicole Cole was absent from the meeting.

Downs said he plans to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission regarding his firing. He learned last Wednesday that the hearing officer recommended his dismissal. 

“That’s just another step in the process to achieve justice,” said Downs, who believes he has been wrongly terminated. 

Downs said last week that the controversy surrounding the Riverbend swim team that followed 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 file an application or to 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 with an officer contracted by the school board earlier this month to determine if he can return to Riverbend, Downs’ legal representation brought up the swim team issue as the reason school officials wanted to dismiss their client. 

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

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