A week after a whistle-blowing teacher was suspended without explanation, parents at Botello Elementary in Oak Cliff say they are fed up with the lack of information about what they call the "illegal presence of firearms and drugs in school." (See correction at bottom.)
In a letter to district officials signed by 50 parents, they politely unload their frustrations with the way they've been treated by the school's principal, Angel McKoy, and write in support of Elliot Monteverde-Torres, the third-grade math teacher placed on paid leave after he filed a complaint with the district and the state.
"We're not sure that our kids are safe anymore. Who knows how many other things are hiding that we still don't know about," Raul Garza, who has two daughters at the elementary school, told Unfair Park today.
In the weeks before he was suspended, Monteverde-Torres, a probationary teacher recently told he would not be brought back next fall, alleged that the principal hadn't done enough to discipline a student who shot another with a BB gun, or a student who was caught handing out prescription pills on campus.
(DISD officials haven't commented on the teacher's suspension; we reached out to DISD for comment today and have yet to hear back; we'll update when we do. The phone rang unanswered at Botello.)
Garza has nothing but praise for Monteverde-Torres, who taught his daughter until he was removed from his position, and says several parents have approached McKoy, the principal, for more information about the incidents Monteverde-Torres addressed in his complaint. McKoy told parents "those were internal issues" having to do with students who were "not their kids," Garza says.
They write in the letter:
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The serious problems, including the illegal presence of firearms and drugs in school and one case of aggression and violence among students, as well as the hostility from Principal Angel McKoy towards parents, need immediate solutions that respond to the needs of all, with respect to all parties and without making use of tactics of intimidation, blackmail and/or conflict.
Garza and the other parents say it's their business to know how situations deserving of discipline are being handled. He says he's not so naive as to think bad things won't happen, but he would like the assurance that the situations, especially those involving pills and BB guns, are being addressed properly -- or at all. For now, Garza says, he's left with few answers to questions stemming from things he's heard from his daughters and other parents: Was the boy with the BB gun ever punished? Did a fifth grade girl really give a Viagra pill to a fifth grade boy? Why won't anyone provide him with answers?
"We don't want to make a big deal, but we just want to know," Garza says. "You can't blow us off ... That's unacceptable."
Due to a moronic editor's error, an earlier version of this story said the teacher's suspension was without pay. He was suspended with pay.