PRINEVILLE, Ore. - A principal in Prineville was warmly welcomed back when she returned to work Thursday, a month after she was put on paid leave for allegedly harassing a first-grade student. On Friday, she talked with NewsChannel 21.
Crooked River Elementary Principal Cheri Rasmussen was cleared of the allegation, and now the school and community are welcoming her back.
Rasmussen was wearing her Mustang purple shirt to her purple shoes during lunchtime on Friday. The hot pepperoni pizza and chocolate milk were the menu items for lunch, but she was also getting all of the attention from the students.
She has been gone for several weeks but is getting back in the groove of things, connecting with her students.
"Yesterday, I was like a kid in a candy store and yes, I didn't sleep the night before," she said "It's just fun to see everyone."
Rasmussen was placed on paid administrative leave last month after an alleged harassment incident involving a first-grader. As the news played out in the community, many people posted comments on social media in support of the principal.
On Monday, more than 100 people attended a school board meeting, praising defending Rasmussen, urging school leaders that she be allowed to return to work. The green light came two days later.
"You know, I have to tell you, the first word is humbling," Rasmussen said of what had occurred. "Obviously, it has been an ordeal. And to have the kind of support that I had from staff, students, parents and this community was amazing, humbling and something that I can never repay."
A principal who is curious about learning new things, just like her students, is again walking the same hallways she did as a teenager in middle school.
Embracing every hug and high-fives from students, she is loving her community, which supported her during difficult times.