Barnstable High School parents, alumni, and other members of the community urged the School Committee on Wednesday to find a way to bring back the principal, Patrick Clark.
Superintendent Meg Mayo-Brown placed him on leave in late September for undisclosed reasons.
David Rheingold, who graduated from the school with Clark in 1990, said the outpouring of support for Clark from the community should not be attributed to personal connections alone. To do so, he said, would shortchange Clark’s achievements as principal.
“The wide regard that the community holds for Pat represents something deeper and much more profound,” he said. “The pickets outside this high school each morning, the lawn signs sprouting up all over town — I've never witnessed anything like this.”
Supporters said Clark is a person of high character who is dedicated to Barnstable High, attends all kinds of school events, and has two of his own children in the school.
Mayo-Brown said she would like to discuss the reasons for the disciplinary action in detail but cannot do so without Clark’s permission.
“As in all matters relating to school reopening in the COVID era, I would prefer to be transparent about the circumstances that led to Mr. Clark's leave, but can only do so if he signs a written release,” she said.
Classes started several days late at the high school after a last-minute delay.
Parent Rose O’Donnell said her children still do not have all of the teachers they need to fill their schedules, and that she saw a lack of social distancing at the school. But she, like others, spoke highly of Clark.
“We don't know what is happening, but we have always thought he was pretty wonderful, and we support him,” she said.
Some of the speakers at the meeting said no single person should be blamed for the difficulty of reopening a high school of 1,800 students during the pandemic.
Mayo-Brown has not confirmed the widespread speculation that problems with the opening of school led her to place Clark on leave.