BLACKSBURG – Blacksburg High School students are petitioning for the reinstatement of Principal Chris Stewart after receiving a statement that he would be taking a leave of absence from their school.
This is following a previous petition from Blacksburg students and parents calling for an investigation into a Nov. 7 2023, murder-suicide that resulted in the deaths of two Blacksburg High School students.
A statement from the Montgomery County School Board confirmed that an investigation into the actions of BHS would be initiated.
“At a special meeting on Jan. 30, 2024, the Montgomery County School Board voted to initiate a third-party review of circumstances related to the off-campus deaths of two Blacksburg High School students on Nov. 7, 2023. Our goals are to work expeditiously in support of this review and to take responsible and appropriate actions based on any recommendations returned. The School Board intends for this review to aid in better understanding of the factual circumstances of the matter and to assess the school division’s legal and regulatory obligations in matters such as these. The School Board will not comment further until the review has been completed,” MCPS Public Relations Office said.
Parents and students then received notice that Principal Chris Steward would be taking a leave of absence and Adam Simpson would be temporarily acting in the administrator’s place at BHS as principal.
A later email was sent to parents that Assistant Principal Oliver Lewis was also placed on leave.
Students reacted with a TikTok video protesting the removal of Stewart. In the video, students are holding signs reading “We love (heart symbol) Stew”, “Justice for Serenity”, and “We Want Accountability” to the tune of Open Your Eyes by Illkan Gunuc and Osman Altun.
Additionally, a petition at www.change.org was started by a BHS student Jan. 28 2024, and has almost reached their goal of 500 signatures as of Feb. 4. The petition on the website states that Stewart had only been the principal of BHS for a little over three weeks at the time of the tragic event and should not be held accountable for the events that led up to the students’ deaths.