Monday, September 27, 2010



In a tweet on Sunday 4LAKids misidentified Mr. Ruelas as ‘Robert Ruelas’, an error for which we apologize to Mr. Ruelas family, friends, colleagues and students.


Did Rigoberto Ruelas, Missing Educator Found Dead, Commit Suicide Over L.A. Times' Controversial Teacher Ratings? Union Tells Times To Take Down The Evaluations

By Dennis Romero, LA Weekly Blog | ruelas.png

Mon., Sep. 27 2010 @ 6:04AM​ - TV news reports over the weekend painted Rigoberto Ruelas as a dedicated elementary school teacher whose students celebrated his impact even after they had moved up the public-school ladder.

The 39-year-old hiker from South Gate went missing last week after he phoned in for a substitute to take over his duties at Miramonte Elementary School Monday and Tuesday. Now television reports indicate he might have been distraught over his lackluster showing at the Los Angeles Times' controversial teacher ratings site.

Ruelas was found dead in the Angeles National Forest Sunday morning, and his Toyota SUV was nearby, according to reports. It appeared he might have jumped off a bridge that spanned a 100-foot-deep ravine.

The Times database had Ruelas as "Less effective than average overall," "Less effective than average in math," and "Average in English."

Ruelas taught for 13 years and, according to family members, had perfect attendance in recent years.

The Times ratings drew the ire of the L.A. teachers' union, which protested outside the paper's headquarters.

On Sunday, the union, United Teachers Los Angeles, issued a statement demanding that the paper "take the so-called 'teacher effectiveness' scores off their website and cease and desist from publishing any further scores for individual teachers now or in the future.''

Media critics have weighed in on both sides, with Slate's Jack Shafer supporting the paper's decision to air the dirty laundry, and LA Observed's Bill Boyarsky, a former top news editor at the paper, stating that the paper should have better explained the "value-added" system of analyzing teacher performance, which is prone to at least some amount of error.

Interestingly, the Times' own story on Ruelas' death doesn't mention that he might have been distraught as a result of his showing in the paper's database.

Teacher's body found in Angeles National Forest

LA Times from Associated Press |

Rigoberto Ruelas September 26, 2010 |  7:23 pm - A Southern California elementary school teacher missing for a week has been found dead at the bottom of a bridge in the Angeles National Forest.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said in a news release that a search-and-rescue team was on training exercises Sunday near Big Tujunga Canyon when they found an abandoned vehicle connected to 39-year-old Rigoberto Ruelas.

They searched the area and found Ruelas' body 100 feet below a nearby bridge.

Ruelas was a teacher at Miramonte Elementary School in South Gate. He had arranged to have a substitute teacher Monday and Tuesday, but didn't show up for work Wednesday.

Los Angeles County coroner's officials reached by phone said they have not determined a cause of death.

Photo: South Gate Police Department

Los Angeles Teacher Ratings

Rigoberto Ruelas

A 5th grade teacher at Miramonte Elementary in 2009


SoCal teacher found dead in forest; suicide suspected

LA Newspaper Group | [Daily News/Daily Breeze] From wire service reports |

09/27/2010 06:51:44 AM PDT - A South Gate elementary school was in mourning today because one of its teachers was found dead in the Angeles National Forest of an apparent suicide, possibly because he had scored low on a disputed teacher rating report made public online.

Rigoberto Ruelas, 39, a teacher at Miramonte Elementary School, was last seen last Sunday dropping off a present for his sister's birthday, according to the South Gate Police Department.

Ruelas' body was found just before 9 a.m. Sunday in the forest, said Deputy Jeff Gordon of the Sheriff's Headquarters Bureau.

Friends, coworkers, students and parents gathered outside the school Sunday night at a makeshift memorial, and crisis counselors were to be at the school this morning.

"He went above and beyond teaching these kids," one unidentified man told KCAL9.

"He was a really awesome teacher," a girl said.

"He seemed very concerned," a woman said about Ruelas' reaction to scoring low on a teacher rating report recently made public by the Los Angeles Times on its website. "He looked a lot thinner than before."

Ruelas notified the school he would need a substitute teacher assigned for his classes on Monday and Tuesday, but he did not show up to work on Wednesday and had not called in, police said. His family reported him missing that day.

The official cause of death has not been released, but the sheriff's department reported that his body was found about 100 feet below a bridge where his car was found, and the coroner's office told news outlets that it appeared Ruelas had committed suicide.

Family members told news outlets that Ruelas had been upset about scoring low on a teacher rating report made public by The Times.

South Gate police Officer Tony Mendez also told KCAL9 that Ruelas had been upset over a report in The Times ranking Los Angeles Unified teachers based on their students' progress on California standardized tests, and that Ruelas' rating had been less than average.

Parent-teacher conferences last week had left Ruelas especially upset, Mendez told the TV station.

United Teachers Los Angeles President A.J. Duffy called the publication of the list of teacher ratings "despicable," and the union -- which had opposed publication of the list -- issued a statement calling on The Times to remove it from its website.

"UTLA is appalled at the L.A. Times," Duffy told KCAL. "We predicted there would be problems. This teacher was a great teacher by all accounts -- loved by students, parents, and respected by his colleagues.

"I will be reaching out to Superintendent (Ramon) Cortines and Deputy Superintendent (John) Deasy to join forces to implore the L.A. Times to take the names of individual teachers and test scores off the website and cease and desist from publishing any in the future."

UTLA extended its condolences to Ruelas' family, friends and colleagues and noted he was a fifth grade teacher, "beloved by his students," and had taught at the school since 1997.

The Times released a statement late Sunday:

"We understand that the sheriff's department is currently investigating Mr. Ruelas' death. We extend our sympathy to his family."

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