Principal of Ella White Elementary School Tom Berriman has been on leave since the middle of November for allegedly physically handling a misbehaving student.
Berriman doesn’t deny the event but has had a strong backing from many parents in the community. At the last Alpena Public Schools board meeting, over a hundred showed up to support him. “The community support has been overwhelming,” Berriman said. “You never like to think of yourself as being that important to the community when you just do your job and do what you love. Apparently, sometimes when you do what you love, people take notice.”
Since his being put on leave, Berriman has been at home, unable to perform his normal duties. “Nobody wants to sit at home doing nothing when your passion is being in a building full of kids and educators,” he said. “That’s the hardest part, having to step away and not being able to be there and the time it’s taking to get this process done. It’s been hard.”
Berriman said his kids have been sharing the burden of the whole situation. “Our kids have been negatively impacted by this as well and the love and outreach from the community, especially from Ella white, for my kids, it’s something I’ll always remember and be grateful forever for these people.”
WBKB reached out to Alpena Public Schools for comment, but they have refused, not wanting to discuss personnel issues. A vote to determine whether or not to terminate Berriman’s employment was postponed before the last board meeting, but it’s possible there is a vote coming at the next meeting on January 23.