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Many Questions Remain in Wake of Principal John Barsotti's Dismissal

Lawsuits, Dixon High uniform colors, zero period hang in the balance as school board decides on Principal John Barsotti's replacement.

When news broke that Dixon High School Principal , the chatter on the Patch, Facebook and Twitter reached a fever pitch.

Most of the comments on Facebook were in support of the school board's decision to not re-hire Barsotti after only one school year at  

But the departure of Barsotti has left many questions hanging in the balance.

Who will be the next principal at Dixon High? Will the school board appoint someone to take his place? Will they re-open the hiring process? How much of a say will the community, parents, students and current staff have in the hiring process?

It's these questions, and many more, that will be on the table during a special meeting of the Dixon Unified School District's Board of Education. The meeting will be held in closed session at 7 p.m., at the DHS Theater.

The board could do a number of things, from appointing an interim principal at the high school, opening up the hiring process similar to when Principal Ivan Chaidez left for a post in Napa, or they could announce that there is no action to announce.

A look back

The 2011-2012 school year was highlighted by several key controversies that occurred at the school under Barsotti.

The first controversy began at the start of the school year. On the first day of school, the Dixon High staff discovered that students wrote on DHS walls and on windows using chalk and window paint.

Students fessed up to what they say was a senior prank; the school's administration saw it differently and dealt with the incident as a form of vandalism.

Perhaps the next big incident that happened at the school was the After having a record of 9-1, and winning the league, the popular coach was not re-hired to be the coach for next season.

The decision fell on the shoulders of Barsotti, who reportedly met with several parents and students after an early February school board meeting to discuss the firing of Coach Hensley, along with the discontent on the school's cheerleading squad with Coach Robin Chavez.

It was the firing of Hensley that truly polarized the school between supporters of Varsity Coach Wes Besseghini and Coach Hensley. The decision however to let go of Hensley was made by Barsotti.

Barsotti caused a ripple of unrest at the school when he announced that all students . The zero period at the school, essentially a class that they could take an hour before school starts, meant that students could come to school early, so that they could leave early and make use of the hour in some way. Some students used the extra hour to attend jobs, do extra homework, and pursue extra-curricular activities or to just rest after a long day.

Students and parents were further angered when Barsotti decided to. Barsotti said that it was an attempt to return to tradition; students said that it was taking away from the school's identity and was an attempt by Barsotti to eliminate a ‘negative’ color. Barsotti however, never said it was a negative color, and said it was merely a way to return the school to its traditional colors of green and white.

When a group of studentsparent Sherry Bedoya brought her concerns to Barsotti, but said that the principal did not do anything about it.

Barsotti said that he addressed the situation at the time, and this fact was confirmed by both Superintendent Brian Dolan and Crumpacker himself. Yet Barsotti would not comment on the outcome of his investigation, citing it as a personnel matter. Many in the community said the fact that Crumpacker was still teaching at the school signified that Barsotti failed to address the situation. Recently, as Athletic Director at the high school, but will still be teaching at the school according to Brian Dolan.

On April 28, Barsotti prevented 35 students from the school's Junior Class leadership from their prom. On the night of the junior prom, the students chartered a bus to take them to Elks Tower in downtown Sacramento, where the prom was being held. The bus driver found a bottle of vitamin water that was filled with a small amount of alcohol as he was cleaning out the bus.

Barsotti was told about the bottle and in turn, prevented all 35 of the students from attending the prom. The event came to be known as . Students argued that Barsotti broke his contract by not breathalyzing them and failed to notify their parents about what had transpired. They said they were left unsupervised in front of the Elks Tower and were not allowed to use the bathroom.

Students protested the decision to exclude them from the prom and the event drew both local and regional news coverage, putting the spotlight on Dixon.

During a he made to exclude the students and officials vowed to form a dance contract committee to address the contract and find ways to prevent the events of Promgate.

Many in the community felt that the apology and the dance committee were not enough. One parent, Melody Williams, recently filed a

No one is certain what will happen to Barsotti’s decision to eliminate zero period or change the school colors. No one can tell how many lawsuits will be filed against the district stemming from Promgate. No one knows if Williams will be awarded the money she is seeking in damages. Williams’ civil trial will take place on July 2.

One thing is for certain however, Patch will continue to cover this situation as it unfolds. Stay with Patch for updates on these issues.

The best way for you to be dialed into this story and several others taking place in Dixon is to like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and sign up for our daily newsletter.

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Aaron June 25, 2012 at 02:06 PM
"Parents and students as part of the hiring process" for a new principal? Well, I guess if the School Board wants it to be that way, so be it. But, make no mistake about it, hiring of district employees is not a democratic process (nor should it be). This is exactly why you have an ELECTED School Board. We elect our representative to make decisions like this. So, please don't get upset if you don't get to sit on the interview panel. If they (School Board and Superintendent) don't pick the right candidate, make your feeling known at the ballot box.
RAM PRIDE June 26, 2012 at 12:38 AM
Exactly Aaron...I was thinking the same thing

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