The principal of Enosburg Falls High School, who was put on leave after using offensive language over the school’s intercom system, is set to return to work next week.
The Enosburg-Richford Unified Union School District took “appropriate disciplinary action” against the principal, Joseph Donarum, after the district’s board discussed his comments at a Monday meeting, school officials said in a pair of statements.
The discussion was held in executive session. Lynn Cota, superintendent of the Franklin Northeast Supervisory Union, which includes the Enosburg-Richford district, said she could not provide more details because the situation was a personnel matter.
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“While Principal Donarum has a long history of championing equity in our schools and in other roles,” Cota said, “he erred in saying aloud the very words that cause the harm he was trying to prevent.”
Donarum has been on paid administrative leave since Feb. 11, after he repeated racist and homophobic language that had allegedly been used by Enosburg fans at a girls junior varsity basketball game against Middlebury Union High School days prior.
At least one Enosburg student has been disciplined following an internal investigation into the game.
Donarum apologized for his comments Feb. 11 in a letter to students, school staff and community members, saying that he made “a terrible and inexcusable mistake.” In the statements Tuesday, school officials called Donarum’s comments “an attempt to be explicit about words that are not tolerated.”
Enosburg-Richford school board chair Kevin Blaney said the body’s deliberations took into account Donarum’s words, their impact on the school community, Donarum’s intended purpose with his comments and the principal’s apology.
Donarum will return to school March 2, officials said, the first day after a mid-winter break that began Feb. 21.
He still plans to retire at the end of the school year, a decision he made last fall.
“We are eager to welcome Mr. Donarum back,” Cota said, “and we are confident he will work hard to repair any harm that has been done.”
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