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February 7, 2019

FHS Principal Tripp Burton will step down in June

2016 File Photo/Lawrence Emerson
FHS Principal Clarence “Tripp” Burton succeeded Roger Sites in July 2013.
Academically, Tripp’s done an excellent job of moving the school forward. The graduation rate, SAT scores, AP scores have all improved.
— Superintendent David Jeck
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Fauquier High School Principal Clarence “Tripp” Burton will step down after six years in the position.

Mr. Burton, 46, made the announcement during a specially-called staff meeting that started at 2:45 Wednesday afternoon in the FHS cafeteria.

“It was a total surprise,” said Randy White, who teaches electrical classes at FHS. “I think everyone was in shock.

“I went up and thanked him,” Mr. White added. “I will miss him.” 

Reached by phone Mr. Burton said, “It’s basically a family decision. It was really hard because we are very proud of the work we’ve accomplished here.”

He declined further comment.

Superintendent David Jeck, who knew of Mr. Burton’s plan to step down at the end of the term in June, attended the 20-minute meeting. So did the principal’s wife and children.

“Academically, Tripp’s done an excellent job of moving the school forward,” the superintendent said in a phone interview late Thursday morning. “The graduation rate, SAT scores, AP scores have all improved.”

Dr. Jeck told the FHS staff, “There is no tougher job in education than high school principal.”

Social media and mobile devices make the job even tougher, the superintendent said.

Mr. Burton said his wife has a professional opportunity that might take their family away from this area, according to Dr. Jeck.

Within the next couple of weeks, he will talk with the FHS staff about the process to select a successor, Dr. Jeck said. That process will include parents and the school staff, according to the superintendent.

He said the timing of Mr. Burton’s announcement will help in the effort to fill the position by the start of the fiscal year July 1.

Fauquier's oldest high school, FHS has 1,300 students and more than 100 staff members.

Mr. Burton this year earns $118,495.

Promoting Mr. Burton, formerly an assistant principal at Kettle Run High School, represented one of Dr. Jeck’s first major decisions in Fauquier.

After a closed session with the superintendent, the school board on April 8, 2013, voted unanimously to approve the appointment but, in violation of the state’s Freedom of Information Act, refused to name Mr. Burton.

Administrators wanted to keep the closely-watched appointment secret until they could announce it to the school staff the next day.

The school board a week later admitted its mistake, conducted a new vote to appoint Mr. Burton and agreed to adhere to FOIA going forward. Video below.

Contact Lou Emerson at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 540-270-1845.

Staff Journalist Cassandra Brown contributed to this report.

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