Lowering Standards at Pueblo Magnet High School: An open letter to Principal Augustine Romero

Augustine Romero:

It does not work to pit teachers against one another with your subtly sarcastic comments during the meetings you hold with teachers as you have done during our first week back to school. We are all smart enough to know that you are throwing Yolanda Sotelo under the bus when you instruct us not to “suppress” the curriculum.

Come on Auggie, you are not the only one with a brain on our campus and your sarcasm is not only immature, it is also rude. Quite frankly, it seems that your brain has been hijacked by your ego.

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In your meeting with teachers the first week of school one of us said that we did not want to be bombarded with students at the end of the school year demanding that their grades be changed, especially when they are failing. (As in the case with Yolanda Sotelo.) The question was posed about how long kids have to make up work. You responded by quoting TUSD policy and said that the policy allows “one day for each day missed to make-up work.”

Where was this knowledge about the policy in the recent situation with Yolanda? From what we understand you did not apply the policy to the 6 kids who you gave passing grades to when their teacher had failed them. So, Auggie, stop talking out of both sides of your mouth. It eventually catches up with you.

On graduation day, I heard one of students whose grade you had changed bragging that they really didn’t have to do much to “get by” and that you had let them all “off easy” and that the assignments they turned in were “doss”- that anyone could have done the assignments in their sleep. The student was all puffed out acting as though he had gotten away with something. He had and you facilitated it all. See Auggie, none of us blame the six students. We blame you.

Instead of boosting the academic standards at our school, you have lowered them. Teachers are pressured to pass kids all of the time and out of fear many teachers succumb to the pressures to pass kids who have actually failed their classes.

Athletes on the Pueblo campus now have a super advocate in you but in a very dishonest and shady way. If athletes do not pass they should not play and you know it. Of course, since you bend the rules for the six students just before graduation, the word is now out! Pueblo will become known as the Pueblo Pass School.

Your motto seems to be “by any means” even when your actions are immoral or even illegal. Enough is enough.

Our school has turned into a zoo under your leadership. Kids are loitering the campus all day long during classes and you and your team do nothing. (One of them could not stand it anymore and left. We are glad for her!) How can academic standards be raised when students are not in their classes and allowed to freely wonder the campus?

We input tardiness and absences and then we find that they have been deleted from the system. We send students to in-school suspension and there is no account of it…really, no input showing that they were in in-school suspension. It appears that they were in class when they were not. When we send kids to your office with serious concerns, hoping that you will follow-up and you don’t.

The discipline fiasco on the Pueblo campus has nothing to do with the USP; it is all based on the administration’s desire to suppress the real discipline infractions. Your objective is to increase the graduation numbers, even if it means graduating students who did not meet the requirements, and shrink any numbers that put shade on you and Pueblo (discipline numbers fall into this category). For three years we have heard that the changes in dealing with discipline are all due to the court order/USP and most have figured out that what you have said is a lie. In doing some research, the GSRR is part of the USP and you and your assistants are NOT implementing the GSRR. You ignore most of the discipline problems on campus until something blows up. So it is not the USP that is to blame. It is your failure to implement the USP. It is your failure to support your teachers in dealing with one discipline violation after another and it is your failure for not reporting the discipline that has taken correctly.

During our August 3rd meeting with the teachers you said that the Special Master wants the teachers at the school to come up with a plan for discipline. We very much doubt that the Special Master is giving you directives to pass onto us. This is part of your pattern of telling lies that you think will benefit you. Several times you have gone to people who you know spread rumors and “inform” them that you have applied for a superintendent’s position and that you are a top candidate. Then somehow, you mysteriously “drop out” because you “really want to stay at Pueblo.” Or you tell lies about why you are away from campus more than you are on it (which is part of the reason it is a zoo). Stop with the lies. Everyone sees right through them.

Yolanda is the latest causality in all of this mess. It has probably shocked you that she is fighting back. Understand that we are behind her! No administrator in TUSD has the right to willy-nilly change the grades of students and then defame the person who took the right action. You failed to follow TUSD’s own policy and there should be consequences for it. Oh, sure you have succeeded in fooling some of the more naïve teachers because they have not gained tenure or because they are looking to gain career recognition from you which they think will make them advance. They will see the light.

Based on dialogue at Pueblo with my peers, I believe that I am expressing the opinion of many- but not all. I will not sign my name to this letter based on the type of retaliation I have seen you and other District officials take.

I have no hope for you changing anything on your own! This is why I believe that what is happening at Pueblo must be broadly broadcast.


Originally published at TSON News.