In Douglas County, many Heritage Elementary parents want principal back

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Almost 300 parents of Heritage Elementary students have signed a petition calling for the reinstatement of Principal Alan McQueen.

McQueen was abruptly released from his duties Dec. 7 for an alleged violation of the district's alcohol policy, but the 441 people who so far have signed the petition don't agree with that decision.

“I do not find Alan's actions egregious and believe he should be reinstated immediately as principal of Heritage Elementary,” the petition reads. “By reinstating (him), the Douglas County School Board and (Superintendent Elizabeth) Fagen will show they have compassion for their employees and are willing to make the right decision for schools. Alan is a great leader for Heritage, and deserves the opportunity to return to Heritage as our principal.”

As of Dec. 27, 291 of the signatures are from parents of Heritage students, said parent Cristin Patterson, who initiated the petition. Heritage has about 650 students, representing about 450 families. Of the remaining signatures, 78 are from Heritage students, with the remainder either from other schools or the general community.

Patterson, the parent of a Heritage second-grader, launched the petition after school board president John Carson questioned her assertion she represented “hundreds of parents” who support McQueen. Patterson read a statement during the Dec. 13 board meeting that she said reflected the shock and disappointment Heritage parents felt at losing their principal.

Though she still is collecting signatures, Patterson submitted a copy of the petition to Fagen and the board Dec. 21.

McQueen said he is overwhelmed.

“I am unbelievably thankful for what they're doing,” he said, adding he is “absolutely open” to the idea of returning to his post.

McQueen has served as principal of the high-performing Highlands Ranch school since 2009.

Buffalo Ridge Elementary Principal Ally Berggren resigned the same day McQueen was released, also for an alleged violation of the district's substance abuse policies.

Both reportedly were given breathalyzer tests during a Dec. 6 administrators' meeting at The Wildlife Experience in Parker. Both had been drinking during separate events the night before the meeting.

The district sent emails to parents at both schools, explaining the principals had violated its substance abuse policy.

Patterson said she and other parents have seen no evidence to suggest McQueen has a substance abuse problem.

Alisa Pauley is serving as Heritage's interim principal.