Parent group calls for Penn Valley principal resignation
April 15, 2014
At a board meeting this week, Nevada County Parents for Student Success, a local parent's group, requested the resignation of Pleasant Valley School principal Teena Corker due to accusations of negligence toward student health and safety.
"There's been so many health and safety concerns that have not been addressed by the principal, Teena Corker, the school board, and the superintendent, Debbie Sandoval, that should have been addressed over the last three months." parent Calvin Clark told The Union.
Clark added, "Parents have come to the conclusion, for the Penn Valley School District and Pleasant Valley School, that the type of action that needs to be taken for that school to have any integrity, and any safety, is to ask for the resignation of Teena Corker."
Members of the parents group have attended a series of meetings with district administrators since mid-January, asking for changes around issues that include behavior and disciplinary policy.
Clark said that during these meetings, parents presented information to administrators, giving specific examples of instances they felt their children's health and safety were violated.
A recent incident, though, was the reason the group has asked for Corker's resignation.
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"There was a young man who was coughing up blood and was denied permission to call home," Clark said. "Because of that, it was the straw that broke the camel's back."
Members of the group attended a school district board meeting Tuesday night, and during a public forum, parents in the group insisted that the board ask Corker to resign as principal.
School board president Teresa Eckerling asked them to meet with school and district administrators within the next seven days to discuss their ongoing concerns.
"I personally agreed to do that," parent Deanna Johnson told The Union. "But with the understanding that if there was not an immediate change coming from that meeting, we would not be backing off on our request for the resignation of Teena Corker."
District Superintendent Sandoval was present at the school board meeting Tuesday and said there were four parents who spoke out.
"Every person's voice and needs are important, but I have 460 students in this district," Sandoval told The Union.
"I have to work in accordance with ed code and board policy, and sometimes that frustrates people. There are parents who may get disgruntled for some of the decisions that we've made, that are based on laws and policies that we apply consistently and fairly across all of our schools, and my two districts."
Sandoval added, "When some people aren't happy with the decisions, they persist to get things changed. … I'm so sorry when they're not satisfied because I'm the kind of person that works toward solving problems. But I can't break or change the law."
An issue Nevada County Parents for Student Success members have expressed concerns about is a policy they say doesn't allow students to call their parents during the school day when they feel ill.
That concern, Clark said, has been ignored by the school and district.
"When there's significant health and safety concerns at a public school that the administration continues to ignore, it creates concerns with parents that know about their kid's health situation," Clark said.
"We've mentioned at the school board meetings that the behavior of the superintendent of schools, Debbie Sandoval, and the behavior of Teena Corker, the principal, has created numerous liabilities."
Ancillary to the resignation request, Johnson filed a formal complaint to the district that expressed additional accusations that Corker enabled a parent volunteer, whom Johnson said, embezzled funds from the school's Parent Teacher Club (PTC).
"Teena Corker knew that Michele Huni had been charged with embezzlement and had publicly agreed to make sure that she had absolutely no contact with the PTC funds, and yet she did nothing to ensure that Michele's name was not on the account. Had Teena Corker done what she said she would do, the PTC bank account would still have over $11,000 in it," Johnson's complaint states.
A spokesperson for Nevada County Deputy District Attorney Ray DeJesus, who is currently assigned to Huni's case, told The Union that Huni is currently charged with four felony counts of embezzlement, aid by misrepresentation, grand theft and perjury for aid. Huni is scheduled to be arraigned on April 14.
Johnson told The Union that she also feels targeted by Corker, saying she was asked to leave the school campus Thursday after trying to meet with her son and his school counselor.
According to Johnson, she went to the school to address issues around her son's behavior during lunch time. When she arrived at the school, Johnson said, Corker asked her to leave and called the sheriff's office to escort her off campus.
"They had the sheriff there to arrest me," Johnson said. "They had already called the sheriff before I even got there."
The sheriff's office said there was an incident at the school with a parent who was asked to leave the school grounds Thursday, but the parent was not arrested.
Due to the incident, Johnson has requested an emergency meeting with the school board to once again call for Corker's resignation.
"Ms. Corker is retaliating against parents," Clark told The Union. "We've been in three months of negotiations and meetings, and no changes have been made."
Sandoval, though, told The Union that requiring students and parents to abide by the rules is not retaliatory but an expectation the district has for every school.
"In this specific and unfortunate situation, some parents use all opportunities to claim that proper discipline and enforcement of rules is retaliatory," Sandoval said.
"Conflicts with this small group have escalated to a point where my staff feels threatened and vulnerable, which is unacceptable. The district is committed to taking the appropriate steps to ensure that our staff feels safe and secure."
Corker, who recently received the Association of California School Administrators 2014 local and regional Administrator of the Year award, told The Union she did not wish to comment on Thursday's incident or the accusations against her.
To contact Staff Writer Ivan Natividad, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4236.
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