Community Rallies Around Ousted Superintendent
It was standing room only at the McKinley Arts and Culture Center in west Reno this morning as the community gathered to show support of ousted Superintendent Pedro Martinez. The meeting was called together by the Latino Leadership Roundtable. The panel included Pedro Martinez, who was recently relieved of his duties by the Washoe School Board Trustees; Estela Gutierrez, the only trustee not involved in the decision made to let Martinez go; Leslie Mix, President of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; Assemblywoman Teresa Benitez -Thompson and Reno City Councilman Oscar Delgato.
Pedro Martinez, who filed two lawsuits against the School District and again Washoe County yesterday, spoke to the crowd. He gave his side of how he has come to be unemployed. And he recounted his accomplishments as Superintendent in Washoe County. He also took questions from the crowd.
Estela Gutierrez, who was out of town when the meeting of the Trustees took place and was not involved in the decision to let Martinez go, also addressed the crowd saying she is caught in the middle, supporting Pedro Martinez in his job and caring about her fellow Trustees. But she was adamant that she was wrongfully excluded from the meeting and knew nothing about the issues involved.
The makeup of the panel assembled today did appear a bit skewed toward a high latino mix, but Gutierrez says that was not the point.
"This not a racialial thing," she said. "This is a community thing. Education concerns all of our 63-thousand students in this district and while what has happened could look racist in that Pedro and I are the only two hispanics involved and we were both left out I don't see it as a race problem. I see it as a credibility problem and a community concern."
"I was heartened to see so many parents and children and teachers and community members here today," Martinez said. "I still do hope that this can be settled and int he besin thef all worlds I would like to stay here and finish the job I came here to do. I didn't come here to sue a school district, I came to help get education on track and kids."
"This was about bringing the community together and getting members to stand up and ask questions," said Leslie Mix. "And I think we did that. Now we need to keep the conversation going."
The Washoe School District Trustees will be meeting on Tuesday. They have yet to offer any defense of their action to let Martinez go other than through a statement saying it was to protect the students here. They could offer the public an explanation on Tuesday. And if not there, all of the details will come out in court.
Written by Erin Breen