By Tony A. Archuleta
Despite School Board President Jay Johnson’s strong recommendation that they follow the chain of command, a trio of Sierra Elementary Complex parents appealed directly to the board during a special meeting Thursday, April 19, concerning input into teacher selection for their children.
“Please follow the chain of command and then come to the board, if you don’t mind,” Johnson said at the outset of public input. “If you do mind, I don’t know what we’ll do.”
Johnson said the chain of command starts with principals, then the superintendent and finally the board.
What the board ultimately did was listen to the parents’ concerns, but not before Truth or Consequences Elementary Principal and former SEC principal Hank Hopkins provided some background information on the issue.
The parents – Barry Ragsdale, Frances Luna and Velma Apodaca – indicated that neither SEC Principal Melodie Good nor Superintendent Tom Burris had been able to allay their concerns, hence the direct appeal to the board.
Hopkins, the 15-year principal at TCES/SEC, started out by saying he’s troubled by the term “picking a teacher.” He said the process is more accurately described as allowing parents to “request student placement.”
Hopkins said that administrators meet in the spring to plan class schedules for the following school year, and that a myriad of factors are considered in assigning students to classrooms.
“We try to accommodate parents, but parents need to understand we have considerations as well,” he said.
But Ragsdale, the first parent to address the board, said the new policy at SEC is a radical departure from years past.
He said parents’ ability to actively participate in their children’s classroom placement has been compromised, and while Burris “worked hard” to resolve the issue, parents remain out of the loop.
Luna addressed the board next, saying, “All we’re asking is for the board to help get the superintendent and administration on the ball so we can have participation in both schools.”
Added Apodaca, “I don’t like the idea that we are not included in this, it just feels wrong to me.”
SEC Principal Good was not in attendance, although Hopkins urged the parents to contact her directly.
Apodaca said the teachers at SEC are “capable and can do a good job, but I feel my input is important.”
Good was not immediately available for comment.
By law, the board can neither comment nor take action on issues presented during public input.
Following public comment, the board adjourned into executive session to discuss “superintendent’s evaluation and goals.”