A group of parents associated with the Ricardo Flores Magon Academy is airing its concerns about the charter school, which was the subject of our recent feature story, "A Hard Line." They're circulating a petition to remove the school's leader, Marcos Martinez, and have sent a list of concerns to the media and to the Charter School Institute, which authorized the five-year-old school.
Among their concerns:
- That the school does not have a nurse.
- That if a student does not attend tutoring, he or she is placed in a lower grade.
- That the discipline of kindergarteners and sixth-graders is the same. One parent wrote, "As part of the school's discipline, students are taken outside during their lunch recess. They sit on the ground under the sun, facing the wall and (are) required to do their homework. I am concerned about children sitting under extreme conditions."
- That staff members scream at the children.
- That the student-to-teacher ratio is too high.
- That Martinez has not been responsive to parent concerns. Another parent wrote that Martinez told her that he is the "owner of the school, that things run the way he wants them to run, and if I have an issue to feel free to leave the school."
Martinez declined to respond to those concerns for this story. In the past, however, he has denied similar allegations and chalked the complaints up to sour grapes. "What this comes down to is there's people who are unhappy with the way the school is run or they don't get their way, or whatever it is, and they lash out," he previously told Westword.
One parent, Dulce Solis, says that Martinez once asked her if she "wanted a war." The comment, Solis says, was in response to her request for a copy of the school's grievance policy. Solis says she was concerned about the school's lack of air conditioning and a nurse's office and had questions about its food and custodial services.
After she asked for a copy of the policy, Solis says Martinez removed her from the parent booster committee charged with fundraising for the school, explaining that he couldn't work with her. Solis says he also sent her a letter informing her that her daughter would be moved to a different classroom because she was behind academically. Solis has since removed her daughter, who was in kindergarten, from the school.
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The petition claims that Martinez is "intimidating" and that he "lacks proven skills to communicate." It also says that staff members who stand up to him are forced to quit and that he is "not objective and allows personal feelings to obscure what is best for the students." The parents claim that those who signed the petition are no longer allowed in the school. Martinez also declined to comment on that.
The school's charter is up for renewal this year. The nine-member board of the Charter School Institute is scheduled to vote on whether to renew it on February 21. The school has also applied to become a part of Adams County School District 50 and to expand to Brighton and to Cheyenne, Wyoming, where it has already won conditional approval.
More from our Follow That Story archive: "Ricardo Flores Magon Academy: Read the lawsuit filed by former teacher Claudia Mitchell."