It seems safe to assume that Brian Lemos has a more colorful past than the average high school principal.
During the 1990s, when he was teaching in the Tillamook School District, Lemos had several run-ins with the law. DUI and fourth-degree assault in 1992. Fourth-degree assault in 1995. Disorderly conduct and possession of a small amount of marijuana, also in 1995.
Finally, in 2000, Lemos was charged with domestic harassment while intoxicated. That was enough for the state Teacher Standards and Practices Commission, which suspended his teaching license for 60 days and put him on four years' probation.
After that episode Lemos headed east. He became a principal in the Crook County School District, where he apparently served capably for nine years. In 2009 he moved to the Redmond School District to become principal of an elementary school, and the following year he was promoted to principal of Redmond High. Again, he seems to have done a good job in Redmond.
But then last Friday, barely a week before the start of the new school year, Lemos hit another bump in his career path. The school district put out a press release headlined "Redmond High School Announces Leadership Changes" and saying Tim Loving has been named interim principal at the school, replacing Lemos, "who is on leave."
Four words - that was it. Is the leave voluntary or involuntary? Is it indefinite or for a fixed term? Is it paid or unpaid? What was the reason for it? School district officials wouldn't say anything. As of this writing, they still won't.
Which leaves a bunch of questions hanging. Besides those listed above, we've got several:
Redmond district officials say they knew about Lemos's checkered past. If they were bothered by it, why did they hire him in the first place - and then promote him to one of the top jobs in the district?
Has something else - something worse - in Lemos's background come to light? Or has he done something recently that justifies suspension?
Perhaps most pertinently, how much is this action going to end up costing Redmond taxpayers? Is there a chance of a wrongful termination suit? Is there a golden parachute provision in Lemos's contract?
Someday, we guess, the answers will emerge. Meanwhile, the district's stubborn silence has created an atmosphere as hazy as the smoke-filled skies over Central Oregon these days. And in an atmosphere where things can't be seen clearly, rumors fly and swirl and assume monstrous proportions.
That's not fair to anybody - not the students at the high school, not the teachers and other administrators, not the parents, not the taxpayers, and not Lemos himself.
The Redmond School District needs to abandon its secretive policy and clear the air by putting out a complete, coherent explanation of the Lemos suspension. Better yet, Superintendent Shay Mikalson - who, ironically, writes a column titled "Straight Talk" for the Redmond weekly newspaper - should hold a press conference and give out some straight talk about it.
Meanwhile, we're giving out THE BOOT to district officials for their clumsy handling of this issue.