The parents of 194 Madison Elementary School students demanded that Principal Juan Ruelas be replaced before the start of school next month in a petition delivered to Pasadena Unified School District’s Board of Education at Thursday night’s meeting.
A second petition supporting the demand to remove Ruelas as principal of Madison signed by 346 community was also delivered to the Board during the meeting.
Pasadena Unified’s Board has regularly been confronted by union, teacher, parent and community demands to replace Ruelas since his appointment to Madison Elementary School by Superintendent Brian McDonald in May, 2015.
Associate Superintendent Mercy Santoro confirmed this week that Ruelas is currently slated to return as Principal of Madison for the upcoming school year.
The two petitions delivered Thursday evening were accompanied by a letter from Pablo Alvarado, a community member who lives across the street from Madison, to Superintendent Brian McDonald and the Board of Education Members, stating that “parents, teachers and community members have consistently communicated both individually and collectively, with you and with board members over this past year about a variety of problems and acts of injustice by Mr. Ruelas at Madison and Roosevelt, and no action has been taken.”
In his cover letter, Alvarado said parents and community members who signed the petitions also demanded that both teachers and students who voluntarily left Madison Elementary during the 2015-16 school year be permitted to return to Madison “without prejudice or retaliation.”
Alvarado’s letter was on behalf of the Community Committee for Equality and Justice at Madison (CCEJAM), a coalition of teachers, parents, and community members who have objected to Ruelas’ conduct as Madison’s Principal.
The California Department of Education indicates that Madison’s enrollment was 489 students last year, so the parents represent 40 percent of Madison’s students.
Julieta Aragon, a spokesperson for CCEJAM and former parent of Madison students who moved her children to McKinley Elementary School, told the Board that when she solicited petition signatures, “many parents wanted to sign the petition but didn’t in fear that Ruelas would retaliate against their children. Given that we did not reach all parents and the number who agreed but were afraid to sign, it’s clear that a large majority of Madison’s parents are fed up with Ruelas.”
Madison has been plagued with high turnover since Ruelas became its principal last summer. Reportedly, as many as 21 certificated employees have asked to be reassigned to other schools during last year’s school session.