A statement from the Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD) on February 8 made the resignation of Principal Sam Pasarow from Berkeley High School official. Pasarow held the position since the summer of 2015, but has been on leave since early December of last year.
BUSD Superintendents Donald Evans and Pasquale Scuderi wrote in an email sent to all BHS students that “We wish Mr. Pasarow well and thank him for his service to the Berkeley High community,” but did not disclose the reason for the mid-year change. Evans’s email also announced the appointment of Erin Schweng as the new principal for BHS.
Schweng has worked for the district since 1998, beginning as a math teacher at Rosa Parks Elementary.
She worked at Longfellow Middle School and in the BUSD Evaluation and Assessments Department before being appointed vice principal at BHS in 2014. Schweng has been the acting principal since Pasarow’s abrupt departure in December. The details surrounding the sudden change in leadership have become the subject of rumor and speculation in the BHS and greater Berkeley community
since the announcement of Pasarow’s indefinite leave in an email by Superintendent Evans on December 5.
BUSD has been adamant about protecting Pasarow’s privacy in all its communication with the public.
“We understand that the minimal detail included in this communication may be concerning for some, yet we are obliged to respect confidentiality whenever private or personal matters arise,” they wrote in their December 5 message.
Some have disagreed with the district’s lack of transparency. A group of parents collectively demanded in an online petition that the school district update the public on the status of administrative leadership at BHS.
At the time, it was not yet clear whether Pasarow’s absence would be permanent or temporary.
Though the petition garnered over two hundred signatures, no details concerning the situation were disclosed.
The day following Schweng’s appointment as principal, Pasarow addressed the BHS community for the first time since December in a formal letter sent to students through Superintendent Evans’ email address.
“It is with regret that I am writing to say farewell,” the email stated. It continued, “I have the greatest respect for the quality of education at Berkeley High School and the highest regard for the great students there.”
The email also referenced the culture of student-led political activism at Berkeley High.
Pasarow said he was “Very impressed by the deeply-felt and peaceful student activism I witnessed during my years there,” an acknowledgement of the multiple walk-outs and student protests which have transpired in recent years, most recently in response to the 2016 presidential election. Pasarow signed off his brief message with a customary and enthusiastic, “Go Jackets!”
Since the change in leadership was made official, no new information has been made public regarding the reasons for Pasarow’s resignation.
The school district and school board are limited by privacy laws in their capability to share confidential information with the public, despite much dissatisfaction and curiosity from a school community left wondering about the reason for Pasaow’s resignation.