Bullying Of Elite High School Athlete, Special Ed Services, Teacher Concerns Come Up During ECISD Board Public Comments

Photo above — Leticia Quintanilla, an executive board member for the local American Federation of Teachers, spoke about alleged bullying of an athlete at one of the high schools. 

Edinburg, TX, June 15, 2023 – Bullying of a top high school athlete, alleged lack of resources for the Special Education Department and concerns over support for teachers in the summer school program came up during the public comments period of the Edinburg school board meeting this week.

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Speaking during the public comments period at the Tuesday, June 13, 2023, meeting, Leticia Quintanilla, an executive board member for the local American Federation of Teachers, spoke about alleged bullying of an athlete at one of the high schools. 

(EDITOR’S NOTE: It is the policy of The Edinburg Advocate not to name minors without their or their parent’s consent.)

According to Quintanilla, the student had suffered from bullying for the past two school years. She added that the parents and the student had gone through an extensive process with school administration to address the issue. However, the bullying continued even during this past school year, according to Quintanilla.

During her comments, Quintanilla said she had previously sent the Board members a 7-page email detailing the student’s and the family’s ordeal during the last two years, including several meetings with school administrators. 

“All the parents are asking for is that this behavior be stopped” Quintanilla said. “Only one of the board members tried to help this family. We have had four meeting, and we still don’t have anything in writing about what is being done. The bullies are not being dealt with. It is going to be the norm this coming year (if nothing is done.)”

Quintanilla urged the board members and the superintendent to take action before the start of the next school year.

“We will not have a meeting (with the board),” Quintanilla said. “The next meeting will be with the media and her attorney. Shame on you educators for failing to correct this. Let’s keep this athlete safe this coming year.”

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Marsha Gonzalez, another representative with the Edinburg AFT chapter, voiced here concerns with several issues impacting teachers taking part in summer school classes. According to Gonzalez, teachers at one elementary campus received one ream of paper, one package of construction paper, 12 pencils 6 erasers, and 12 bottles of glue for the entire summer school period.

She alleged that another principal purposely put an “out of order” sign on the copy machine and pulled the plug. Then the principal offered the teacher a piece of chalk and said, “Here, go teach.” She added that many secondary school teachers did not receive supplies for summer school. 

According to Gonzalez, the school district supported students during the pandemic by providing them with school supplies, but teachers had to replace supplies after those funds were gone. 

Gonzalez also voiced teacher concerns with after school duties. Gonzalez said some teachers and paraprofessional staff have to stay until 5:00, 5:30 or even 6:00 pm while other school staff get to leave at 4:30. She cited regulations that such afterschool duties were not to be included with the “other duties as assigned” category and required separate pay. 

Anita Perez, the parents of a five-year-old child spoke about problems securing an additional aide for her special needs child. She said she started complaining to school administrators in August of 2022 when her son first enrolled for the school year. 
She said her son needed extra help and should have been provided an aide to help him integrate into the regular school rooms.

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Perez said she was denied the aide and told that it was the policy of the school district to only have two aides per special education teacher for each campus, regardless of the population. 

Perez said she had tried to talk to several administrators, including the superintendent, about the issue. However, she was never able to meet with them.

“It is sad to see how the Special Ed unit needs help and they’re not given the help they need,” Perez said. “Why is he (her son) forgotten? Why is he not getting the attention he needs? Why is it so difficult for the parents to get the help he needs because the teachers are overwhelmed. Every Special Ed class is different. What happens to what the kids need?”

According to Perez, her son was not given an aide to help him transition to regular classes until the end of the school year. However, she wondered why it took so long for this to happen and whether it will happen again next year.

It is ECISD board policy that, during the public comments period, school board members and staff are not permitted to respond to the comments. 

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