Upset parents told to go through proper channels

MABTON - A group of angry parents interrupted the school board meeting in Mabton Monday night, demanding the board hear their complaints.

Cecila Martinez claimed her child is being verbally abused by the child's teacher at Artz-Fox Elementary School and the principal, Dawn Weddle, is doing nothing about it.

Manual Guzman, Mabton School Board director, said there is a proper procedure to go through to get items on the school board agenda and Martinez didn't follow it. Rachel Ruelas, one of the angry parents, told Guzman their requests to get this issue on the agenda were being ignored.

After several minutes of shouting and Guzman trying to get control of things, the parents stormed out of the meeting threatening lawsuits if their concerns aren't addressed.

"If a parent has a concern with a teacher they must first go through the principal at the school," Mabton Superintendent Sandra Pasiero-Davis said. "The principal must intervene."

Pasiero-Davis said if the parent is not happy with the result from the meeting with the principal, they can come to her and file a written complaint. She said then the superintendent's office will get involved and investigate. If the parents are still not happy with the results of the investigation, they can then request the board hear their complaint. It's then up to the board whether they will hear the complaint or not, she explained.

Weddle admitted Martinez had come to her office with complaints but had no other comment after that. After the meeting, Pasiero-Davis and Martinez spoke for a few minutes and Martinez said she planned on seeing the superintendent today (Tuesday) to file a complaint.

Also at Monday night's meeting, the board approved a new high school academic athletic policy.

In the past, if a student wasn't passing their classes, they couldn't participate in sports until they brought their grades up. The grades wouldn't be checked until midway through the season most times so the students couldn't play even if their grades were brought up.

Now, if a student is not passing all their classes, they will be ineligible to participate in sports for the first two weeks of the quarter. A grade check will then be conducted at the end of two weeks and if they are passing their classes, they will be able to play.

There will be four grade checks in the first quarter, four in the second quarter and three in the third and fourth quarters.

Board member Elsa Sanchez liked the idea but wondered about the students who are passing all of their classes at the beginning of the quarter and aren't subjected to the two-week grade checks. "What's to stop them from dropping the ball," she asked.

"Our normal checks should identify them," Mabton High School Athletic Director Denny Brown said.

Brown said this new system will let the students play but on a probationary status. "The idea is for them to pass two grade checks in a row," he said. "It focuses our athletes on academics. The new policy will reinforce to students they are in school to learn and must pass every class."

The school board also adopted a new school calendar for the 2006-07 school year. The new calendar was put together by the Mabton Education Association.

The new school year will start on Aug. 28. There is only one snow make-up day on the new calendar and there was two on the previous one. Also, students will now get two weeks of Christmas vacation instead of one week. The school year will also end one week later then in previous years.

Pasiero-Davis said there are good reasons to extend the school year by one week.

"Many of our students travel during the Christmas break," she said. "Some miss school because the break is not long enough." She also mentioned that WASL scores aren't released until June 8 and in past years students have had to come back to school to get their results. Now they won't have to, she said.


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