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Principal leaving Bristol Elementary School


BRISTOL — Bristol Elementary School Principal John Bratko this week announced he would take an immediate leave of absence for the remainder of the school year and sever ties with the school after that.

The administrator shared his decision in a message to the Mount Abraham Unified School District community that day.

“Thank you to the Bristol community for giving me the opportunity to be your principal for this school year. Public education is facing major challenges and Bristol Elementary School is no exception. Stemming from these challenges and with (Superintendent) Patrick Reen’s support, I will be taking a leave for the remainder of the school year and tendering my resignation,” he wrote.

Bratko just began his tenure as the elementary school’s principal this past July. He was the fourth administrator to serve as BES principal since the 2018-2019 school year.

In his message on Tuesday, Bratko did not specify the challenges that led to his departure. A particular focus for administrators at Bristol Elementary School (BES) and in the MAUSD has been evaluating the district’s systems for supporting its students in light of a recent history of student misbehavior.

In the fall of 2021, multiple incidents involving students at BES prompted teachers to ask the MAUSD board for help. This past December, MAUSD parents and staff once again requested assistance from district officials following an incident involving a student in crisis at BES.

Bristol Elementary School is not alone in facing these challenges. In 2022, the National Center for Education Statistics found that over 80 percent of public schools throughout the country reported that the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected student behavior and socio-emotional development and led to an increase in behavioral incidents involving students.

This past fall, MAUSD began assessing the systems it has in place for supporting students to measure the effectiveness of those systems and their ability to maintain a safe learning and working environment.

MAUSD Superintendent Reen addressed Bratko’s departure in a message to community members on Tuesday evening.

“I wish to thank Mr. Bratko for his service to BES and wish him the best in his future endeavors,” he wrote.

Reen added that Bristol Elementary School’s assistant principal, Bill Huggett, will serve as acting principal for the remainder of the school year. The district will begin its search for a new principal for the 2023-2024 in the coming days.

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