One of my favorite places to be on a Friday night in the cold of winter is the Mabton High School gymnasium. I love coming in and seeing the Viking faithful turn out to support the local basketball teams. It is not uncommon to go into the gymnasium at Mabton and see more than your share of familiar faces. Probably the best way to describe those in the community of Mabton is family.
This is why it saddens me to hear about the recent rift in Mabton surrounding Artz-Fox Elementary School Principal Fabian Castilleja and his contract not being renewed.
It is time for the community of Mabton to grow up, and I am not talking about the kids.
It looks as though Castilleja will not have his contract renewed for next year, after working as principal at Artz-Fox over the past year. Things might change while a lawsuit is pending against the district on Castilleja's behalf.
It is not clear why Castilleja's contract is not being renewed, except supposedly he is not meeting job standards. District officials have pointed out they will not disclose particulars in an attempt to maintain Castilleja's privacy.
My viewpoint is that of an outsider, as I really haven't had a chance to deal with the issue first-hand.
Bottom line, though, everyone involved holds some blame for things getting out of hand.
The parents who held their children out of school in protest should be ashamed of themselves. You did your children a huge disservice. There is nothing wrong with teaching your children to stand up for issues, teaching them to fight for what they believe in. But never, especially at the elementary school level, is a child's education to be sacrificed at the sake of making a point that many of them couldn't possibly understand.
If I had been the administrator in Mabton I would have suspended each of those kids and directly placed the blame on you for shortchanging your children. Children are not to be used as pawns in a cause. Parents, you need to lead by example with your children. Show them the important things, such as concentrating on their education. Don't use your children to fight your fight.
The Mabton School Board should have done a better job of managing the situation. As the elected leaders of the school district it is their job to lead. I was perplexed to hear that parents were being required to make a formal request to be heard by the school board at its meetings. From my understanding this is done to help better prepare the school board to answer questions. The community should not have to go to such great lengths to be heard at a public school board meeting. School board members have a very important job and one of those duties is to hear the community you serve uninterrupted, unscreened and with your full attention.
The issue I have with Superintendent Sandra Pasiero-Davis is that she seemingly let things simmer and then it spun out of control. Granted, I don't know the entire situation, but obviously parents have a few concerns about how things were communicated with them. In Pasiero-Davis' defense, it is not in her job description, to my knowledge, to inform any members of the community when a staff member's contract is not being renewed.
I feel that Mr. Castilleja should have taken a stronger stance with those children who picketed and missed school on his behalf. His main duty as a building principal is to ensure the best education possible for the students. He failed that assignment by allowing those children to stay out of class.
It is time for those involved to settle their differences, work together. Mabton is a wonderful community with wonderful, delightful people to be around. It is time things got back to how they were.