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Monrovia School Link ~ Number 42 ~ May 22, 2002 A couple months ago I mentioned that nobody spoke in defense of Canyon High Principal Manny Gonzales, who had tendered his "resignation." Well, they did tonight. Also, a bit of clarity about the obscurity I complained about last time.
~ Brad Haugaard (brad@sacklunch.net)

HOON ~ Congratulations to Michael Hoon, whom the board selected to be the new Plymouth principal. If I heard the comments correctly, Hoon has been acting as principal for a bit. He's taking over for Larry Fitzgibbons, who came to the school in August, 2000.

GONZALES ~ Speaking of principals, several people spoke in defense of Canyon (Continuation) High School Principal Manny Gonazles. The board, as I mentioned in the March 13 issue, accepted his "resignation." Five people spoke in favor of Gonzales, including Ellen Lavin (sp?), who said he is a man of integrity and talent. She said his passion and intensity is sometimes mistaken for anger. Other speakers credited him with helping students through difficult times. The board cannot comment publicly on personnel matters, so it just listened.

CONGRATULATIONS ~ to district employees of the month: Director of Purchasing and Warehousing, Nelson Santos, who "returns phone calls" and gets good prices and quality on supplies, and to Monroe third grade teacher Marilyn Parrino, who "lives and breathes teaching."

ENORMITY ~ Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Joel Shawn congratulated several teachers on the "enormity" of what they've accomplished as literacy coaches in helping implement the Open Court reading curriculum. (Sorry, didn't get the honoree's names.) Hmmm. Enormity, enormity. Flip, flip. Ah, here we are. Ahem: "1. the quality or state of being immoderate, monstrous, or outrageous; esp: great wickedness." Oh my! I, uh... Oh, here's another definition: "2. a grave offense against order, right, or decency." Golly, Joel, I don't think they're quite that bad. Oh! One more: "3 the quality or state of being huge." Whew! Thank you for being comprehensive, Merriam-Webster.

NEW BUSINESS ~ Did you know there's a special place on the school board agenda for board members to bring up their thoughts? Yeah. It's called, "New Business," and it's right near the end of the agenda. Unfortunately, the routine usually goes about like this: "Item eleven point oh on the agenda is 'New Business' hearing none we will now adjourn at nine oh four p.m." Hmm. Maybe all possible ideas have already been brought up, so there's nothing new.

COLLABORATION ~ Okay, in fairness, I want to point out that Monina Diaz came up with a pretty good idea, even if it wasn't under New Business. She thought members of the Monrovia School Board should collaborate with the boards of neighboring districts. Share ideas and stuff, I guess. I like it! You'd have to make sure no more than two board members attended such a meeting (three would make it a quorum and possibly illegal), but it's still a good idea. Nobody else commented about her idea, but don't be discouraged, Monina. Here's what to do: Bring it up under New Business and say you want time on a specific upcoming agenda to talk about it. Probably won't help, but at least it couldn't hurt.

DE-VAGUED ~ Okay, I've got a few pieces about what happened at MHS that the superintendent was vague about at the last school board meeting. Apparently the MHS Christian Club wanted to (and did) hold a meeting opposing homosexuality, and there was considerable opposition. The Star-News quoted one of the club's fliers as saying, "Moral? Loving? Not the homosexual lifestyle." One of the opposing fliers (scanned and sent to me) criticized as "mentally unstable" someone named Paul Cameron, who apparently did a study on death trends among homosexuals and bisexuals, which this flier said misrepresented other studies. So I guess the club invited Cameron as its guest speaker.

RIGHTS ~ Like it or not, the district acted properly regarding letting the Christian Club hold its meeting. Though the club seems to have adopted an in-your-face approach (judging from several comments I've recieved and from the Star-News article), the First Amendment gives it, and its opponents, the right to express their views. In my mind, where it gets murky, is in the club's recently denied petition to change its constitution to exclude "fornicators, adulterers, homosexuals, etc." from membership, and to limit its leadership to men. This involves freedom of religion issues all tangled up with laws about discrimination and overlayed with hot-button topics. I'm way out of my legal depth.

MURKY ~ Oh, in that last item, when I said, "In my mind, where it gets murky," I realize that can be interpreted two ways. Don't worry. Either way works.

BAD BRAD ~ And, I got a bit of criticism myself. About the MHS obscurity, I wrote, "Did a club invite Nazis to speak? The KKK? An abortionist? Osama Bin Laden?" One writer said my including abortionists was "inflammatory, prejudiced and nasty." I admit I'm inflammatory, prejudiced and nasty, and I do have an opinion about abortion, but I was not intending to express it since that's not the topic of this newsletter. I just meant to list groups with controversial views. ("Controversial," mind you, does not in itself mean "wrong." I hold several controversial views.). Anyway, perhaps I should have added "an anti-abortionist" as well.

SURVEY ~ Last time I mentioned a survey about the uniform policy at the middle schools, which Senior Pupil-Personnel Director Gail Grant said got a paultry response. About this I got a great letter: "It was a very vague and hard-to-answer questionnaire. It basically asked (and I'm going from memory here as I do not have my copy - it was one of the paultry few returned), Are you aware of the uniform policy? Do you like it? Would you participate if you didn't like it?" Instead, my letter-writer felt, it should have had more direct questions, such as: "Does your child participate in the uniform program? If no, why? What changes could be made to change your mind about participation?" Things like that.

I AM POOR ~ The same writer said she doesn't think the dress policy at the middle schools works well because it is so easy to opt out: "One might even argue that the premise of equalizing fashion has backfired because the students believe that only the economically challenged participate in the uniform policy." [Yikes! Kind of an I-am-poor label.] "What good," she asks, "is a policy that is unenforcable with no consequences for noncompliance?" Good point.

SELF POLICING? ~ Third item, same topic. She suggests that the dress code forget about colors and focus on decency. Or, she adds, "What about a uniform policy for teachers and staff? The kids hear a lot of preaching, but far less example." Or, "Maybe we should let the kids set the dress code. I have found that the kids [in a youth group she leads] are usually far harder on themselves and their peers than are the authority figures."

NEXT BOARD MEETING ~ The next regular board meeting is on Wednesday, June 12 at 7:30 p.m. at the administration office at 325 E. Huntington Drive.

Copyright (c) 2002, Brad Haugaard. Also on the Web at: monroviaschools.tripod.com