On the firing of SLHS Vice Principal Patricia Crespo

Students protesting Crespo Firing @ SLH

At the last School Board Meeting, the board voted to fire (or “not re-elect”, whatever the proper verbiage might be) Patricia Crespo, one of the assistant Vice Principals at the High School.  Crespo had been there for just a year, and according to news reports she was very popular with Latino students.  Today Latino students at the High School came out to protest the firing, hinting perhaps that there were racial motivations at play.  Crespo is one of very few Latino/Spanish-speaking administrators, after all.

Well, I don’t know why Crespo was fired (my husband is in the School Board but he does not share any confidential information with me) but I have heard that she was disliked by many teachers for a lack of professionalism and the fact that she is not a strong advocate of holding students accountable for their actions.  According to one news story “Crespo said she had some “really difficult” discipline cases this year and guessed that dissatisfaction about how she handled some cases led to the school’s decision not to rehire her.”   I have no idea what those cases may be, but I have heard stories about SLHS kids showing up randomly at classes, being disruptive and disrespectful to teachers and the administration not intervening to preserve the learning environment.  Hopefully, whoever replaces Ms. Crespo will be someone who will be more ready to deal with students who cause problems.

Discipline at school has become a pet issue of mine ever since I visited my daughter’s 2nd grade class and noticed how disrupted a learning environment it was.  While most kids were engaging with the teacher, there were a couple who kept talking and moving about, disrupting the activity time and time again.  It made me wonder how much class time is lost, all in all, by teachers having to deal with students who for whatever reason are not able to sit down and do their work.

Now, I’m not unsympathetic to the potential reasons why a child would be unable to behave properly in class:  it could be anything from having an empty belly to needing attention he doesn’t have at home, to having a severe psychological or developmental disorder.  I also know that, statistically, children of color are disciplined more by teachers than white children (and we see this holding true in the justice system as well) – though as almost all students in SLUSD are children of color, I don’t know that this is really a fact here.  But I don’t think that letting children get away with disruptive behavior benefits anyone.  Whether we like it or not, in order to live in a society we need to learn to control our behavior and if parents and teachers let us get away with anything, we are not going to develop the skills that let us be productive as adults.  And we are not going to let anyone else learn them either.  I am the first to say that we need to come up with more useful types of discipline solutions but they need to be solutions that work for everyone: teachers and students alike.

About these ads

7 Comments on “On the firing of SLHS Vice Principal Patricia Crespo”

  1. MaxTheTeacher says:

    Students themselves are incredibly conflicted on this issue. They complain about teachers having no control, they dislike classes that are chaotic, yet they approach disruption as if it were a students job. As self-contradictory as this seems, I’ve heard it again and again from students. They want discipline without being personally disciplined.

  2. Thomas Clarke says:

    Max, students are always conflicted about everything. That of course is post teen perspective shared by you and I. I have not seen these Latino students complaining about teachers with no control and full of chaos. These 75 students, primarily Latino, represent 10 percent of the Latino student body and their voices should be heard, but are not. What a surprise. Students are rarely listened to by teachers who are intent on teaching but who lack the ability to listen and transform what is heard in to action. That Patricia Crespo is the lone Latina is disgraceful. The San Leandro Unified School District has a long way to go to reflect the diversity of the community. The School Board should, but is not, champion this critical issue.

  3. Thomas, I think the lack of Spanish-speaking Latinos in both the administration and the teaching body is a serious problem that the school district has to address. But it’s not an easy problem for what I hear. My understanding is that the pool of Spanish-speaking teachers and administrators is pretty limited in the East Bay, and that they pretty much get their choice of jobs. SLUSD does not offer particularly great salaries and working conditions have historically not been ideal (though I hear this is changing now that Cathey is superintendent), so it’s been hard to recruit Spanish speakers.

    And I think Patricia Crespo was hired exactly because the district is cognizant of the importance of having Latino and Spanish speaking administrators and teachers.

    But she didn’t work out, for whatever reason. I don’t know what the reason for that was, but I am confident that it had nothing to do with her being Latina. I sincerely hope she will be replaced by another Spanish-speaking vice-principal (I doubt that the district can legally hold the position open for someone of Latino origin).

    I think that it’s great that the students are expressing their feelings about Ms. Crespo, but I also think they need some guidance as to how to do it effectively. Now, I’m not particularly sure that anything they do at this point would make the Board change their mind, but cutting classes to protest definitely speaks to need of administrators that will push for more rather than less discipline at the HS.

    Of course, a great part of the problem in these situations is that the District has absolutely no ability to make any comments about why an employee was let go – so the employee (or her supporters) can allege anything and there is no one to contradict them. An employee may be let go for unethical behavior, negligence, bad performance or even semi-criminal behavior, but the district must remain mum. The only time this info ever comes out is when the school district is sued by someone claiming wrongful dismissal and they go to court, but usually the district actually settles these cases, no matter how frivolous (it’s less expensive to settle than litigate), so the info does not come out. Now, I’m not suggesting at all that this was the case with Ms. Crespo, I can honestly say that nobody has suggested that to me, but the point is, we just can’t know why she was really fired.

    • Thomas Clarke says:

      Marga, I think it is extraordinarily disingenuous to state that there is a lack of qualified teachers and staff who speak the languages and reflect the ethnic diversity of San Leandro High. The school board and district are justifiably proud of their Madison performance. It is sad that there has been very little successful effort to do that at San Leandro High.

      I do agree that the school district has done little over the past forty years to remedy the problem. The Union rules, budget and litigation threats provide a terrific curtain for the school board to hide behind.

      I applaud the efforts to hire and retain teachers and staff that reflect the ethnicity of the community and the campus. That the best efforts have not included Latino and Latina instructors and staff and that the best efforts of the the school to meet the mean for performance in API scores is not a surprise.

  4. Thomas, all I can tell you is that that’s what I’ve heard about the market for Spanish speaking teachers/administrators in the East Bay.

    I’ve asked Mike about what’s happening at Madison, and he tells me that they are working on copying what works into other elementary schools. I don’t know that the lessons of a elementary school are as easily transferable to a high school.

    • Thomas Clarke says:

      Marga, I find it hard to believe that there are no qualified teachers in the district that cannot be transferred in to resolve the problem. But I have not asked the question of leading Hispanic/Latino leaders. I am sure you were exhaustive in your search. I will check with Jesus Armas and Francisco Zermeno in Hayward and see what they say.

      As to high schools that are doing better Arroyo and Newark Memorial both have better performance and meet all three API guidelines.

      Madison does not need to be the sole model. McKinley, Wilson both meet the elementary targets as does John Muir for Middle Schools.

      The students are right to question the actions of the school board. The lack of support from the union says a lot about where the real devotion is. Just get by. Sad.

      • Thomas, Crespo is a VP, not a teacher. And this is the /San Leandro Unified School District/, not Hayward :-) I’m not sure of the specific requirements to become a VP, but I know it involves a minimum number of years in the classroom and a credential that requires coursework. Now, I’m sure there are teachers in the SLUSD that would qualify (one of my friends for example), but SLHS seems like a pretty tough school and we may want to look for someone with experience and a successful track record.

        Meeting targets and being good schools are very different things. We transferred our kids out of McKinley because we were very unhappy with it as a school. I can tell you that by no means we were the only ones.

        And yes, the students do have the right to question the School Board. All I can tell you is that unfortunately, as this is an employee matter, they just cannot get any answers.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.