July 23, 2008

Parents Mad About Ella Teacher Changes

By Ryan McCarthy, Appeal-Democrat, Marysville, Calif.

Jul. 23--Keep the staff and change the administration, asked several parents at Ella Elementary School in Olivehurst, vowing to keep their children out of school when classes resume Aug. 18.

"The wrong people have been terminated," Gina Souza, president of the school site council, told Marysville Joint Unified School District trustees Tuesday night.

Souza -- and other parents who spoke outside the meeting -- praised the work of parent liaison Lexi Miller and school attendance clerk Brenda Moore, calling the two women "the heart of the school."

Miller's position was eliminated and Moore has been transferred to another school, Souza said.

Parents cited the women's assistance to students at the Olivehurst school.

"They've been there forever," said Nick Ritchie, adding that now students will have in the office "somebody else they won't know."

Souza said the loss of Miller and Moore will impact students.

"These kids need a hug and a hello," Souza said.

Ten percent of kids at the Olivehurst school have a parent in jail and another 10 percent are being raised by grandparents, she said.

Parent Tracy Wardlow said students were comfortable with the women.

"The kids would go to them," Wardlow said. "Why let people like that go?"

Parents also noted the loss of other positions at the elementary school, including Ella's reading coach not returning.

Superintendent Gay Todd said after the meeting that while it's the right of parents to withhold their children from a school, "I'm not sure that's the most productive way to voice their concerns."

"Parents and community members get very attached to certain personnel," Todd said. "It's hard for them."

"No one ever wants to have to someone go -- and that includes the administration," the superintendent said.

School board President Jeff Boom said state law prevented trustees from commenting because the issues were raised were made during public comment. Ella Elementary was not on the agenda.

Parent Emma Pinedo told trustees during the public comment period that community involvement in the school had dwindled because people believe the school administration is not listening to their concerns.

"We will not let this go," Pinedo said.

Citing a school beautification project at Ella Elementary, Pinedo said, "I guess we needed to be beautified rather than instructed."

Parent Kelly Fisher, who has two children at the Olivehurst school, said of the Ella administration, "They think it's their school."

"It's actually our school," Fisher said.

Contact Appeal reporter Ryan McCarthy at 749-4707 or [email protected]


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