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RISD restructuring raises concerns at board meeting

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Around 120 people, with more spilling out the door, rallied on Tuesday night at the Roswell Independent School District’s Board of Education meeting at the Administrative and Educational Services Complex, 300 N. Kentucky Ave. Some of the nine public speakers alleged acts of racism and inequality for Hispanic educators from RISD’s restructuring for principal positions. Support was shown for Ruben Bolaños, former RHS principal, and Hugo Loya, former Teacher on Special Assignment at Mesa Middle School, both of whom may be in new positions for the upcoming school year. (Alison Penn Photo)

Some members of Roswell’s Hispanic community on Tuesday addressed concerns about the Roswell Independent School District’s treatment of high-level Hispanic RISD professionals related to recent position changes.

RISD’s monthly Board of Education meeting at the Administrative and Educational Services Complex, 300 N. Kentucky Ave., was crowded, with more than 120 people inside and more standing outside the door and in the hallway.

Superintendent Dr. Ann Lynn McIlroy, Board Secretary Dr. Kathleen Pittman, President Alan Gedde, Vice President Ruben Sanchez and Board Member James Edwards were present on Tuesday night, with Board Member Mona Kirk attending telephonically.

Gedde read a preamble about public speaking and explained that board policies allotted for only 30 minutes for public participation. Some attendees and students expressed frustration or disappointment when they were turned away from speaking.

Ten people signed up to speak, with one of them being absent. Some of the nine public speakers alleged racism and inequality toward Hispanic educators related to RISD’s restructuring of principal positions.

Support was shown for Ruben Bolaños, former Roswell High School principal, and Hugo Loya, former Teacher on Special Assignment at Mesa Middle School. Concerns were raised Tuesday about both administrators possibly being moved to new positions for the upcoming school year.

“Our committee, which has teachers and students, everybody, we decided that taking Ruben (Bolaños) away — it’s an act of discrimination,” Francisco Patoni, an RHS Spanish teacher, said. “We decided that that’s not fair. It’s very unfair. Why? Well first of all, because he’s taken away without regard to any equal opportunity. He was just picked and taken, transferred out.”

Patoni compared this change as “an act of displacement, rather than a promotion” or even a potential “termination of employment” for Bolaños.

“I would like to discuss another issue,” Patoni continued. “Mexicans, Mexicanos, are being demoted. Mexicanos are being taken away from leadership positions. Mexicanos are no longer on the top level at all. We’re being removed completely or demoted. What’s with that? Is that a partnership? …”

The speakers stated various opinions, but the common thread was a desire for the district to consider their actions toward employees and to possibly return Bolaños and other principals to their positions.

Gedde made a statement after the public participation, ensuring the audience that their voices had been heard. Including the district’s disclaimer and comment by Gedde, the matter related to the restructuring of principal positions took about 45 minutes.

More coverage of this meeting will appear in an upcoming edition of the Daily Record.

City/RISD reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.