Parents in the Roosevelt School District in south Phoenix are waging a war to keep their superintendent.
In January, new school board president Norma Munoz announced over Facebook her first order of business would be to replace Dr. Jeanne Koba.
"I was very sad,” said Fabiola Velasquez, a parent at the school district who turned out in support of Koba. “We like Dr. Koba and we like the work she's done inside the school district and having somebody come into the school district that doesn't know anything would be bad for the children.”
“To see the families come out and say we support you and you've made a difference to my child or my family it makes me go okay, this is where I'm meant to be at this point,” said Koba.
Koba took over the school district a little over two years ago, initially on an interim basis before being named the permanent superintendent.
She soon discovered the district was $4.4 million dollars in debt.
“I didn't ignore the problems, I faced them head-on,” explained Koba. “By the end of this school year we will have repaid all of our debt to the Department of Education and we will be debt free with a little bit of surplus to carry us into the next year.”
But three of the five Roosevelt School Board members including, including Norma Munoz, disagree.
Munoz was unable to meet with us in person due to a family emergency but did send us this statement via Facebook:
Accountability is long overdue in Roosevelt. The district has displayed a culture of caring about the welfare of adults more than children.
In 2016 the CFO "lost" $4.4M (which accounts for nearly 11% of our budget from the state) and wasn't fired, or reprimanded. The current leadership's solution was to let him continue to collect a paycheck while we hired a 3rd party to clean up his mess. He wasn't taken off of payroll until April (3 months later)
Then, in the Fall an employment dispute left hundreds of our students stranded at their bus stops. Administration assured us beforehand that it was all under control. Then, this happens. Sadly, children were put in harm’s way, but the adults were safe in their jobs. No one: the administration who mishandled this employment issue, nor the transportation manager who mishandled it, nor even the bus staff lost one day's pay for abandoning kids
Then, a few weeks later we fail our bus safety inspections for the 3rd year in a row by an abysmal 73% failure rate. Kids were riding around in dangerous conditions. Did the person in charge of transportation get any kind of discipline for failing 3 years in a row? No they did not.
Not to mention the terrible test scores from last year where principals who were clearly not doing well for years-after-years were left to continue in their schools.
Board Member Rosa Avila sent us a similar statement:
Dr. Koba is a caring and supportive individual to the staff at RSD but I believe she hasn't demonstrated an ability to solve issues proactively and hold people accountable for their actions. For example: 4.4 million went missing and she didn't hold him accountable or disciplinary action until the board took action. The district had to let go over 30 staff members including assistant principals, tutors and others in order to repay the money back to the state.
Buses abandoned hundreds of children at their bus stop and she was aware the drivers planned not to show up for work. No adults we held accountable. Again problem solved reactively when it could have been prevented with the information at hand
School buses have failed inspection for the past 3 years in a row, and no changes to the maintenance department had been made
Mary Ellen, if the city of Phoenix transportation system was not reliable, would you trust it? Or keep the person in charge?
I am sorry I am unable to meet in person. I want a leadership the parents can trust to have a contingency plan. I have not seen a plan from our superintendent. I want a leader that thinks of children's safety first. Thank you
Board Member Lawrence Robinson is among the those who feel Koba should stay, “I think that my colleagues are not taking into account what the community wants. We’ve had a number of meetings where we had standing room only, Black White Hispanic individuals united like never before in support of Dr.Koba.”
No word on when the board will meet next.