Teachers, parents and students protest principal Anna Barraza's placement at Dolores Elementary School because they don't like the way she runs the school in Carson.
By Shelly Leachman & Denise Nix, Staff Writers | Daily Breeze
05/31/2008 - Claiming they are stuck with a "lemon" principal who has been passed from school to school, teachers and parents picketed outside a Carson campus on Friday urging her ouster.
Protesters said Dolores Elementary School Principal Anna Barraza intimidates students, speaks in a demeaning manner to parents and teachers, and won't support activities like fundraisers, field trips or student council.
The principal said in a Friday phone interview that "there are two sides to every coin" and "in order to make progress there needs to be change."
Barraza argued that teachers set in their ways are just upset she's been enforcing, among other things, a staff tardiness policy and has resumed the once-waning practice of classroom evaluations.
"When I came to the school and saw the direction test scores were going, I knew I had to do something before it's too late," Barraza said.
What's she's doing, the protesters argued, is only making things worse at the Los Angeles Unified School District campus.
Second-grade teacher Ana Gomez said Barraza treats her job like a "dictatorship," describing her as an overly extreme stickler for the rules and asserting that her strict policies won't help test scores.
"There has been a lot of resistance here," Barraza said of the criticism. "This is a school where the culture
has been embedded many, many years. Simple things like following policies and procedures have put obstacles in my way as far as the direction the school needs to go."
"(Teachers) have found these things as obstacles because they've not been held accountable in the past," Barraza added. "All of a sudden it's `Barraza's polices and procedures.' I'm clearly not a policy writer."
Unions on both sides of the matter are also engaged in a he-said, she-said.
While the United Teachers of Los Angeles are calling Barraza a "lemon principal" who should be removed from the profession altogether, the Associated Administrators of Los Angeles argue that the teachers are simply resistant to change.
Decrying that notion, UTLA Harbor Area leader Aaron Bruhnke said it's Barraza who needs to change.
Dolores Street is the third school in three years for the 19-year administrator.
And, Bruhnke claimed, Dolores marks the third school where parents and teachers have banded together to seek Barraza's ouster.
After complaints at Riordan Primary Center, Barraza was sent to Dena Elementary School for the 2006-07 year. The UTLA says teachers there experienced similar problems to those now alleged by Dolores staffers.
"We would hope that the dance of this lemon will stop here at Dolores Elementary School," Bruhnke said Friday.
Barraza, meanwhile, retorted that "it is not unusual for a principal to be moved from a school."
"I don't know of any principal who has had only one assignment, unless that person becomes a principal close to retirement," she said.
Barraza has never been the focus of the district's official grievance process and has never received a negative evaluation from her superiors.
Ceding there is "some indication" of that, Bruhnke said the lack of bad reviews for Barraza is indicative of "LAUSD falling down on management accountability."
"And it's not fair for the city of Carson, its teachers and parents and children, to have to bear the brunt of the failures of the past," Bruhnke added.
smf's 2¢: The are obviously issues at this school that need to be worked out - and there are processes for working them out.
- The teachers and the staff of the school have a grievance process - through the district and through their collective bargaining units that they have apparently elected not to follow.
- The parents have options to address their local district superintendent, their board member, the general superintendent and the board of education.
- There is the UNIFORM COMPLAINT PROCEDURE.
- And demonstrating in front of the school is a right - if not the best course of action.
However the photos of the protest show children on the picket line, eleven year olds photographed and identified by name (one of whom accuses the principal of 'not being the fairest one of all' - a level of expectation beyond even 4LAKids or NCLB!) - and that seems to me to be on the far side of a prudent course of action.
Maybe we all need to look at ourselves in the magic mirror?