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Cerritos High School Principal and Four CHS Administrators Removed

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Patrick Walker

March 18, 2023

By Brian Hews

Los Cerritos Community Newspaper has learned that Cerritos High Principal Patrick Walker was “involuntarily” removed from his position this past Friday.

An email obtained by LCCN from Walker to CHS parents read, “For those of you who could not make it to today’s lunch meeting, I wanted to give you a brief synopsis: I am being involuntarily transferred to another school site (the location has not yet been determined) for the 2023-24 school year. Dr. Lois explained that the new Principal could be appointed by the district or could be selected through an interview process. There will be more information by the end of next week. I am heartbroken to be leaving the school I love. Yet, I am proud of all that WE have accomplished together these past nine years. No matter what the future holds for me…rest assured…I will always be a Don!

In addition, sources are telling LCCN that some CHS front office administrators will be removed.

“Certain parents are running the school,” said the inside source who wanted to stay anonymous, “if you are not in the clique, nothing you want will get done. Those in the front office are rude and very snotty too; this is a good thing.”

Interim Superintendent Toan Nguyen, who removed Walker, has complete authority to remove administrators and can only be overridden by a majority vote by the ABCUSD Board at a regular meeting.

Sources are telling LCCN that if it were placed on a meeting and brought to a vote, Walker would not be reinstated.

LCCN also received emails from parents angry about Walker’s removal; all wanted to remain anonymous.

In one email the parent wrote, “we just found out that CHS principal. Mr. Walker is being involuntarily transferred to another school. In addition, four other site administrators with no explanation. We were told that the decision was made by [ABC Interim Superintendent] Toan Nguyen]. There is an ABC board meeting on Tuesday, March 21 at 6 PM. I plan on being there to show my support for Mr. Walker and our lack of transparency and inclusion of stakeholders that should be the partners our district touts so highly.”

Sources are telling LCCN that Sergio Garcia, who turned around Artesia High into an award-winning school, will be the new CHS Principal.

The Walker move comes on the heels of two Cerritos High varsity coaches resigning in early February under a cloud of controversy. Martin Rodriguez resigned from his post as the baseball head coach on Feb. 3 under pressure of alleged allegations from parents of kids on the team, while Brad Carter resigned on Feb. 7 from his post as the football head coach, as well as his AVID and physical education teaching position.

Interim Superintendent Taon Nguyen tole LCCN, ” I cannot comment on personnel matters, however, please know that our decisions are based on what is best for all students at all thirty of our schools and the professional growth for our administrative staff throughout the District.”

Statement from ABCFT President Ray Gaer:

Consistent and regular communication is a union’s most important tool for advocating for its members at the bargaining table. Every conversation with members is focused on the end result of negotiating for the future prosperity and well-being of ALL ABCFT members. The goal of this weekly report is to keep members informed about issues that impact their working/learning conditions and their mental well-being. Our work as a Union is a larger conversation, and together we make the YOUnion.

“Sometimes good things fall apart so better things could fall together.” – Marilyn Monroe

ABCFT was given notice by the district administration that throughout the week there would be staff meeting announcements informing teachers, nurses, and support staff about the administration’s decision to realign school site administrators. The movement of principals in earnest has not happened in ABC for over a decade and the last great shake-up that I remember was during the tenures of Superintendents Dr. Ron Barnes and Dr. Gary Smuts. Since their leadership, many ABC school site administrators have enjoyed a long tenure at their current schools and this stability is both a source of strength but can also be seen as a limiting leadership development factor.  The Interim Superintendent, Toan Nguyenwith the approval of the ABC School Board has decided to assess and realign the district administration as well as changes at the site administration level.

What can ABCFT do about these changes? The movement of employees falls only under the oversight of district administration in conjunction with the school board. This administration right is reflected in CA Ed Code and can also be found in the ABCFT/ABCUSD Master Contract under Article VI: District Rights/Administrative Rights. As with all major decisions that are made that impact ABCFT members, we always look for opportunities to have input in the decision-making process. For example, in typical changes of district and site administrators, there are representatives from all of the ABC labor unions so that the employees of ABC have a voice in major district decisions. When there are site administrator decisions ABCFT will typically recruit the site representative(s) or key leadership teachers to participate in the interview process. In some cases, ABCFT has worked with the district to produce school site surveys that would provide clarity about the needs and expectations of the staff.

Unfortunately, in this current round of major administrative decisions ABCFT and staff were not given a chance to provide meaningful feedback. This may be for a number of reasons we are unaware of but it does feel like ABCFT, CSEA, and AFSCME were not included in the decision-making process. We hope that in the future that there will be opportunities to be part of these important choices. ABCFT is not currently aware of which administrators will be moving nor the final decisions on the placement of ABC administrators.

The realignment and movement of administrators feels a lot like what happens at our school sites or district programs. At the school site principals have the right to make decisions about which grade levels a teacher will be assigned. There are many factors that go into these decisions such as a teacher having asked to move grade levels as part of their professional growth, a grade level team may need changing for whatever reason, or teachers being placed in positions that highlight their strengths. As teachers, we are used to these changes and although these changes are ultimately decided by the administrators, the ABCFT/ABCUSD Master Contract does give teachers the opportunity to provide their preferences or the opportunity to volunteer for a position that is open. I don’t know if ABC Administrators were provided with the opportunity to provide this information but I do know that they do not have a union to negotiate a contract that guarantees this input. This is a good example of how ABCFT has used the collective bargaining process as a means to provide the opportunity for ABCFT members to have a voice in making decisions that impact them directly.

How is it going to shake out and who’s going where, I don’t know. Together, we will all adjust to the new reality. However, ABCFT will be talking to district administrators about how we as a district can support ABC employees during these major transitions. These decisions, although necessary as a function of reorganization are very personal to many teachers and nurses. Our district’s strength is built on the engagement and relationships between teachers/nurses and administrators. ABCFT will work with the district to provide the supports you need to make these changes. If I’ve learned anything over my career, it’s that teachers/nurses are resilient and together we will work through these changes.

Thanks for all you do. Every. Day.

In YOUnity,

Ray Gaer

President, ABCFT