PHS Principal Mike Bussard
PHS Principal Mike Bussard speaks during last June’s graduation ceremony at Clemens Field. (File photo by Logan Hannigan-Downs/Philomath News)

Philomath High School Principal Mike Bussard has not been on campus since Oct. 18 and Superintendent of Schools Susan Halliday said Friday that she’s not able to give specifics on what’s involved with that situation citing strict privacy rules that the school district has in place to protect staff and students.

Asked if Bussard had been removed from the position, Halliday could only say, “He is currently not at the school.”

In his absence, Assistant Principal Tony Matta has taken over the day-to-day responsibilities with Halliday assisting.

“Right now, Tony Matta is the immediate go-to and I am spending time over there every day as well to be able to be supportive,” Halliday said. “We’ll be continuing to work that way until more decisions are reached.”

In a letter read to PHS students through a video announcement on Friday, Halliday acknowledged that she knows they have questions about the situation with Bussard.

“At this time, I need to ask for your patience,” she wrote. “As stated earlier, by law, I cannot discuss confidential personnel matters. I can tell you that I am focused on making sure that Mr. Matta and the PHS staff continue to provide you with the best high school experience. That is my focus.”

The situation has created a stir in the community with social media abuzz about what’s involved with Bussard’s absence.

“We’re just trying to be very cognizant about rumors versus truth and what I’ll share with you from (what I told) the students today really kind of took that angle of being able to say ‘it’s real easy for stuff to get blown out of proportion and so let’s be thoughtful.’”

The Philomath News attempted to reach out to Bussard but has not heard back.

Bussard, 59, was promoted to principal by then-superintendent Melissa Goff in April 2018 after the departure of Brian Flannery. Bussard first came to work for the district in the fall of 2016 as the assistant principal — initially in a temporary role with the previous assistant on administrative leave but that soon transitioned into permanent status.

Bussard has worked in education for 35 years in California and Oregon. In this area, he worked for five years at South Albany and 10 years at West Albany before taking the PHS job.