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Would you say that being able to send your child to school without fear of his persecution an inalienable right?
When you see your child's face driving away on the school bus, does your heart flutter with anxiety? Would you be able to live that way? Would the kid, for that matter?
This story is sadly similar to what's happening to lot's of children who's parents are of the same sex. De-humanize the parent, and of course the rest of the family will suffer.
A young boy at Dolores Elementary, in CA was jumped and beaten by two other boys. These young kids had found out that he had two Moms, and let him know what they thought about it with their fists. The teacher's of the school, well aware of the situation, sent the three boys to the principal's office.
Now what would you want your Principal to do here?
I know! You would want her to: not call you, not punish the boys who attacked your son, not call their parents either, and not do anything but wave them back to class and out of her hair.
No parent would want that, on either side I would hope, but that's exactly what she did. Principal Barraza, with a work record that reads like a rap sheet if bad teaching were a crime, was not surprised when one of the two Moms showed up with some serious concerns. Unfortunately, the concern for one of her students was not shared.
In an exclusive LGR interview with one of the parents, I received this account of what followed:
"The principal, Anna Barraza, told my wife that she didn't contact the other parents because they were "working parents", insinuating that we're not. She gave no excuse as to why I wasn't contacted, but said that she would look into the situation."
I personally have never heard the phrase "working parents" come out of any serious educator's mouth in my life. Nothing was done to protect her son in the future, and nothing was done to educate those young boys about violence. The school year was almost out, and it's heartbreaking to hear how the family had to cope.
"We told our son basically, if that happens again just RUN. Isn't that sad!? It was almost the end of the school year, and he would be in a new class soon, we simply braced ourselves and prayed nothing else would happen. It pains me as a parent to know that my son handled the situation in the right way, and so did my wife; but in the end the principal did nothing to protect my son from this happening again. What kind of message is that sending to my son? It makes me feel like I failed to protect him, but what can I do?? If I could I would go to his school every day to be there when he needed help - but wait - that's Anna Barraza's job. Basically, all we can do is teach our son how to weather the storm."
Apparently, the teachers at Dolores Elementary were having problems with Anna Barraza as well. That May the teachers themselves began a campaign to have Principal Barraza removed. They handed out a petition citing grievances such as:
- speaks to students in a demoralizing manner
- causes stress to the parents, students, teachers, and staff
- does not work as a team player to help problem solve to the benefit of the children
There was even an incident where children went missing, a teacher had to twist Barrazza's arm to call the cops, and school police thankfully found them and told the Principal to contact their parents. Barazza ignored that duty, and while waiting for the parents to pick up their children, did not inform them of the incident that day. At first, some parents were too afraid of the Principal to sign the petition, in fear of retaliation against their children. The situation was so stressful on everyone associated with the school, that the teacher's went an extra step to hold a rally at a nearby park to inform the parents. Stories began coming to light, not only were the teacher's suffering under Barraza, but so were the kids. Stories usually reserved for nightmares about school were happening at their school. Attendance was huge, and our two Mom's found some insight into the psychology of their principal:
"In regards to assaults on campus, one parent mentioned Principal Barraza stated that there were too many to keep track of which is why she just sends the kids back to class without calling the parents or documenting the incident. Come to find out this happened at two other schools. She was ousted in a matter of days. At this point I could see the gravity of the entire situation, and what was at stake… Principal Barraza is a danger to our students."
Fired up and ready for change, the parents orchestrated a sit-in outside the school. Protests disrupted summer school again and again. The parents and teachers held weekly protests outside their district's office and protested at the main building downtown. When the media showed the Principal on tv it was all about insinuating that the teacher's whiners stating they didn't want to follow her rules, forget that the parents were involved at all.
It became apparent, that when a school board tolerates this kind of mess, that it is not simply the policies of the Principal at work here.
"I saw one person ask the district supervisor a question after the meeting, and she responded ‘are you a parent or a teacher?’ the woman said ‘ I am both’ and the supervisor (rolling her eyes!) responded ‘okay thank you for your time we will be in touch’ and then proceeded to leave the room. The message that night was that in the two former cases [where Barazza was fired] there were parent petitions, and in this case there wasn’t so no big deal. They completely overlooked the point that there was no parent only petition because in most cases parents have not been notified if something has happened to their child. They mentioned that they were looking into the situation, but a student was shot at Washington high school so that had priority. They completely overlooked that fact that this is what we are trying to PREVENT from happening at our school. One parent stood up and said he felt like this situation was a ticking time bomb. "
The principal started a new year at the school despite everyone's efforts. When she did, she made sure to flex her dominance over the people at Dolores Elementary. Retaliation against teachers who have spoken out against her has been noted. The kids were not left out of the tantrum either, and have also been the focus of her anger. It started with canceling recess on the kids often with no reason or notice. Then she canceled the school bake sale, citing the economy.
Let me say that again. She canceled a fundraiser for the school on account of the economy. Of course this sparked further outrage, and the protests continued. People were not going to let this woman continue to push them or their children around. The teachers, union reps and parents sat in the main office after school as another peaceful way to protest against the principal. Instead of dealing with it, she cried to the police, and had a security guard posted outside her office. I'd like to know how much that cost the taxpayers. One of our Mom's said something that sums it all up pretty well:
"All I could think was she called them faster than she did for the kids who were missing!"
We have seen so many kids hurt because of homophobia. Every educator worth their salt knows about the little boy who was shot in Oxnard on Valentine's day. We all remember Leticia Green, the boy who was shot at school because he liked to dress like a girl. Violence is up, and it is the negligence of the highest paid and lowest qualified administrators in our system that is to blame. Is there is anywhere safe for our children but our own homes?
There will be if we stop taking the short end of the stick. I'm not talking just about our community. I'm speaking to all parents, and all the great teachers busting their ass for half of what this loony principal makes. It's a disgrace. The educational system is the backbone of our society. To turn it into a breeding ground for discrimination, violence, and stress is a disgrace. We need to start weeding these people out of the system for the sake of our kids, and their poor teachers. People like this are sucking out funds, wasting them, and impairing our ability to succeed in the future.
All I know is, the parents and teachers will win this fight in the end. Just keep an eye out that Anna Barazza doesn't end up in your school next. The real threat to our school children is unprofessional, passionless educators like her. I encourage any and all parents to stand up in their community for their childrens education. And if anyone is giving you any crap, make sure to let us know here on LezGetReal. We got your back Mom's and Mom's, Dad's and Dad's, and every other kind of family out there. Families need to stick together to finally stand up and demand the education system we all deserve.
Jenime is an artist living in the SF bay area. You can watch her musings and ravings any time by visiting her channel on YouTube.