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Parents angry over Bordelon ouster, new principal named at Justin-Siena

Brother Christopher Brady has 23 years experience as principal including Sacred Heart Cathedral and De La Salle High School.

LORNA SHERIDAN,

What a week for Justin-Siena.

News of Principal John Bordelon’s sudden and unexpected firing came as the Napa Catholic high school’s 575 students returned for the first day after school had been closed for two weeks due to the fires – on the first day of homecoming week, and at the start of the school’s busy admissions season for incoming eighth graders.

Despite more than 1,400 rapidly gathered signatures seeking the reinstatement of Bordelon and the removal of Justin president Robert Jordan, angry parents instead received news on Thursday afternoon that they would instead be welcoming a new principal, Brother Christopher Brady, on Friday, hired by Jordan.

Brady has previously served as principal for more than a decade at both San Francisco’s Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory and De La Salle High School in Concord. He is vacating his post as Chaplain of Athletics at Saint Mary’s College

Brady also formerly served on Justin’s board and as dean of students and as a religion and history teacher at the school from 1979 to 1983.

The unanswered mystery that plagues parents, they say, is why Bordelon was let go.

Jordan said in a letter to parents that, “this decision was in no way the result of any wrongdoing on the part of Mr. Bordelon or any liability related to Justin-Siena.”

He did not give a reason for the dismissal but added that, “This change was made following due diligence and consultation.” Jordan declined all requests from the Index-Tribune for comment

“Bordelon was abruptly fired by school head Robert Jordan and the school board for no apparent infraction — ethical, moral, administrative, or otherwise,” said parent Anthony Celaya. “It has been extremely disconcerting that absolutely no reason has been given for this action.”

The only communication that parents have received from the school’s board of trustees arrived on late Wednesday, around the same time news spread that board chair Mel Preimesberger had resigned.

The communication shed no new light but assured parents that the process was vetted.

“We take seriously our charge from the De La Salle Christian Brothers to steward their mission and the Lasallian Catholic identity of the school,” the letter reads. “The decision by the President has gone through an appropriate process. According to our governance model, the Board was duly informed on an on-going basis, and with this communication the Board considers this matter closed.

We have been and will remain committed to honoring the confidential nature of the situation while also respecting the intrinsic dignity of all involved.”

It was the timing of Bordelon’s ousting that drew the most ire among parents who reached out the Index-Tribune.

“Surely, if a change had to be made it could have been better thought out, better communicated, and implemented more carefully,” said parent Holly Kelly in a letter to the editor.

“What we can be sure of is that the way this decision was made and carried out was not in the best interest of the students, faculty, staff, and parents.”

“On a day that should have been a true home-coming, kids are feeling lost, lied to, unimportant and truly devastated,” wrote Sonoma Valley parent Jeanine Parlett. “You took the heart of their school away at a most crucial time.”

A common theme in the letters to the editor that the Index-Tribune received was that many parents chose Justin largely because of Bordelon.

“After visiting several local schools it was John Bordelon’s mission that moved me to tears and solidified the choice to send our children there,” wrote Kelly.

“His presence at the school is what made us decide to continue our relationship with Justin Siena with my younger son,” wrote parent Tiffany Baumann.

“He is the reason we enrolled our two boys,” wrote parent Terry Lee.

“What Mr. Bordelon has done in the two years he has been at Justin has been nothing less than amazing,” wrote parent Tracy Paxton.

On Thursday evening, the language on the bringbackbordelon.com website was clear that parent and student organizers still seek the removal of Robert Jordan from his post.

On Friday, Justin will hold a rally for its Homecoming football game and welcome its fifth principal since 2007.

Email Lorna at lorna.sheridan@sonomanews.com.