Concerns Shared at BSUSD Board Meeting
Last updated 5/10/2022 at 11:42am
Parents and concerned citizens filled the Borrego Springs High School community room, as they shared their discontent with happenings within the school, at the monthly school board meeting on April 13.
Due to the limited amount of time allotted for comments from the public, only 21 minutes were given to share any concerns or presentations; there was a three-minute rule, and not everyone was able to speak.
Board president Steve Riehle reiterated that he, along with the board, understands the importance of what those in attendance would like to say, and encouraged those who were not able to speak to attend the next board meeting.
First to speak was Marina Lopez Rodriguez, who spoke about the meals being served at Borrego Springs Elementary School and the Middle/High School. She spoke of poor food handling and the selections the cafeteria has to offer, such as “expired milk, dried vegetables, food being served cold, unappetizing appearance, highly processed, high content sugared cereals’’ and more. Lopez Rodriguez asked the board to revise the situation and to “take action” in the nutrition of the students, also noting that an improved menu with food students will actually eat could significantly reduce food waste.
Next up was Carmen Ochoa, who was identified as the mother of the student who was the victim of the knife attack at the elementary school on March 16.
She began with an overview of what happened that day, noting the lack of proper actions taken, as well as the frustration of no communication in regards to the situation, and adding the failure of district leadership to “follow protocol in suspending the head of administration while there was an ongoing investigation.”
Carmen Ochoa closed by saying this situation will stay with her and her daughter forever, and “It is a traumatic experience one never forgets, I can tell you that from personal experience. I would like to see change, I would like to see new leadership, and I hope to feel safe taking my child to school again.”
Following Carmen Ochoa was Israel Ochoa, father of the student in the attack. He also spoke of the incident, stating that he did not feel comfortable having his child attend, due to the fear of not knowing what could happen next in the classroom or on school premises.
Israel Ochoa also highlighted the “inability to follow the protocol” and negligence of the school staff, and even stated the school’s policy of when a weapon is reported or suspected, which is a “complete lockdown must be implemented and a call to 911 or local law enforcement must be made until the aggressor and weapon have been secured,” he said. He continued to reiterate the failure of the school on many aspects dealing with the situation, and hopes that staff will have better training, and the phrase “it’s Borrego” does not apply anymore. Accountability is hoped for and change is made.
Erica Quintero spoke of her son continuously being bullied at the elementary school, despite multiple discussions with administration. She noted the lack of attention to the bullying by staff is concerning, and said in one incident, her child “looked around for help and one staff member was there and just told the other kid to be nice and walked away,” leaving her child with no help. She said that this incident has her questioning if the staff has been properly trained to handle these situations. Another point made by Quintero was that when asking for help or wanting to report an issue, the child is told, “well they got here first,” in which she sees as whoever gets to the staff first is heard and it’s not questioned. Quintero noted that she always questioned if she had been heard or if her point had been made when meeting with staff.
She hopes that the Board will find ways to improve the school environment to be safer for students, protecting them from physical and emotional harm. She said, “If we don’t see a drastic change, then I will highly consider homeschooling my child.” Quintero closed by saying she will be filing a complaint officially in the time to come, and “time will tell and at what level I will be submitting it.”
Esmeralda Lopez spoke on behalf of another who was not able to attend that day. In the person’s speech, it pointed out the lack of aid for a child for more support, and noting the messages received that the person’s brother is having a hard time. The speech included concern that it might not be them, but the “lack of education” and “training of the staff ‘’ to be empathetic to a student. The persons hope is for the “board to investigate and see if leadership truly is doing their job, and ensuring that those they are accountable for are in turn doings theirs.”
Lopez closed the public comments stating the hope that the board has heard the questions and concerns they have been “voicing of the leadership, specifically the Elementary School leadership for years.” Lopez said that the speeches should, if not proven, that there is a problem with leadership, and said that problems brought up do not get addressed.
“We get laughed at, we are asked to leave as it is never a good time, we are told our children are lying, we are told there just is not enough staff to see everything and watch everyone, more simply put, we just never get a solution,” she said in her conclusion speech.
Lopez mentioned that a child’s education is a shared responsibility, and a commitment chosen as either a parent of an educator. She added that communication is indeed key in any relationship, and like many parents, never received a phone call when their child was in danger because of a weapon on campus, briefly mentioning the incident that had occurred at BSES.
Disheartened, Lopez also mentioned that the parents often get “ignored, belittled, reminded of our legal status, and told they can be mean too.”
She begged the board to look into the “school’s leadership, and to not dismiss parental complaints because many parents cannot be wrong.”
Lopez closed with a quote from John C. Maxwell, “Students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Adding, “please let them know you care.”
These are just a few of the many concerns by parents within the school district, and there is more. With the time constraints, there is wonder of what else is to be said next.
Riehle and board member Ramien Shalizi thanked all for attending and expressing their concerns.
Parents are planning to attend the next board meeting on May 11, 5 p.m. to further address their concerns to the school board. All who would like to join are encouraged to attend.