Central Oregon

Bear Creek principal put on administrative leave

Matt Montoya's supporters show up in the dozens

Bear Creek principal put on administrative leave

BEND, Ore. - No resolution Monday night as the Bend-La Pine School District works to figure out if Bear Creek Elementary Principal Matt Montoya should lose his job.

Dozens of people rallied on the steps and lawn of the school district headquarters Monday afternoon to show their support for Montoya.

No one is saying publicly why Montoya's job is in question, citing privacy rules in personnel matters. Some speculate it's because of poor performance, but that has yet to be verified.

"I was shocked to hear this to begin with," parent Ryan Jijina said. "I started to look it up on the Internet, trying to find out why, and I'm still in the dark about that."

Parent Joanne Mina is also trying to figure out why Montoya could lose his job.

"He is a great role model for the Hispanic kids in our community as well," Mina said. "He represents what is possible for all of us."

She added over the last few years Montoya has been working on a dual immersion program at the school. It allows both English- and Spanish-speaking students to learn both languages.

"By first grade, they are fluent," Mina said. "That is something that not only enriches the school, but also our community."

The school district will only say that Montoya has been placed on administrative leave as the district completes an investigation. They haven't said what they are investigating.

The district added that Monday's session was an evaluation meeting, and those meetings are a comprehensive process. They said personnel decisions are made only with great care and consideration of the facts.

The evaluation meeting wrapped up more than an hour and a half after it started.

Katherine Tank of Tank Law, who stood next to Montoya and his wife after the meeting, issued a statement saying. "It's my understanding that the district is continuing its investigation. It has put Matt on paid administrative leave and they have no final decision at this point, unfortunately."

As he thanked those who showed up to support him, Montoya told NewsChannel 21, "I can't turn my back on my kids and my school."

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