Ricardo Flores Magon Academy hires security guard because of "concerns"

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The turmoil continues at the Ricardo Flores Magon Academy charter school in Westminster, the subject of our recent cover story, "A Hard Line." Facing two lawsuits and many more complaints, the school has now (at least temporarily) lost its leader, about whom many of the complaints were made. While principal Marcos Martinez remains on paid leave, the school has hired a security guard.

According to Virginia Longoria, the chairwoman of the school's board of trustees, and Jerome DeHerrera, the school's attorney, the security guard was retained "because of security concerns expressed to us by teachers, staff and parents." In an e-mail to Westword, Longoria and DeHerrera wrote that "the board is not willing to take any chances with regard to the safety of the school's children, teachers, staff and parents."

According to the Adams County Sheriff's Office, officers were called to two heated meetings at the school, on February 3 and February 8. Both were to discuss complaints against principal Martinez, chess teacher Dominic Martinez and Gabriela Guzman, the school's director of curriculum and instruction. However, no one was arrested.

The three remain on leave while the board investigates the complaints, which members have failed to publicly articulate. Here's how they described the situation in a letter sent home to parents this week and provided to Westword by DeHerrera.

Dear RFMA Community,

As you know, the Board of Trustees of RFMA ("Board") is responsible for ensuring that RFMA is being operated according to its mission and in compliance with all applicable legal requirements. In conjunction with the resignation of two RFMA teachers on February 1, the Board became aware of practices at the school that may violate the mission of RFMA and applicable law. As a result, the Board immediately notified local officials of the allegations as required by law and decided to initiate the process of investigating the alleged practices. Further, because of their respective positions, the Board asked Marcos Martinez (Head of School), Gabriela Guzman (Director of Curriculum), and Dominic Martinez (Director of the Chess Program) to take voluntary leaves of absence, with pay, until the investigation is completed.

As part of the process, the Board held meetings on February 3 and 7, in which it received input from parents, employees, and members of the community. If you have information regarding the practices and/or operations of RFMA that you believe should be brought to the Board's attention, please do not hesitate to contact either of us or the school's Compliance Officer/Legal Counsel, Jerome DeHerrera. [Editor's note: Westword has deleted all contact information for the purposes of this blog post.]

The Board hopes to complete its investigation as soon as possible. We hope that you understand that because this is a personnel matter, the Board is not at liberty to disclose the details regarding the focus of the investigation. In the meantime, please trust that the Board is doing everything it can to provide the students at RFMA with a safe and nurturing environment as well as an excellent education that will prepare them for success in college and beyond.

During this period, the Board has named Marcelino Casias as the Interim-Head of School. In addition, a temporary, substitute teacher has been added to the staff and the school is in the process of adding another temporary, substitute teacher and a temporary, substitute chess teacher. Please also note that the school has retained a security guard.

Until he was named interim principal, Casias was the school's director of fundraising, Longoria and DeHerrera say. They would not comment further on the resignation of the two teachers on February 1 or how their departure coincided with the ensuing investigation, except to say that "each one has their own personal reasons for resigning from the school."

The school's charter is set to expire on June 30, and it has applied for renewal from two authorizing agencies: the Charter School Institute, which authorized its current charter, and Adams County School District 50, in which the school is physically located.

The institute was scheduled to vote on whether to renew the school's charter on February 21, but executive director Ethan Hemming reports that the date has now been pushed back to March 20 to give Adams 50 more time to make its decision. Adams 50 officials have not returned calls from Westword seeking comment.

More from our Education archive: "Remedial college courses: More Colorado students need them, report shows."

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Security Guard
Security Guard

 I was very pleased to find this site.This is my first visit to your blog.I enjoyed reading it.They have been a big help for us.Thanks a lot.

ExRFMAcolectivomember
ExRFMAcolectivomember

I wonder what more the "Board" wants or needs to remove these unscrupulous characters from their respective positions.  Aren't they on at-will employment contracts as are 100% of the teachers that work and have worked at RFMA?  It shouldn't be that difficult, that's the beauty of at-will employment in Colorado.  HHMMM Unless he contracted himself and his minions to give himself the upperhand, which wouldn't surprise me as his "Board" prior to this never really questioned or raised concerns about a single thing that went on in that school.  Even after its first years and more than 10 teachers came and went, they didn't question, they didn't worry.  NOW they're concerned!  NOW that they're charter is up for renewal and NOW that there have been multiple lawsuits. NOW they have chosen to act.  What have they done?  "Voluntary leave with pay and hired a pinche security guard" Is this how you slap Marcos and his minions on the wrist?  This is their consequence, paid time-off????   

You know what RFMA Board, if you really give a rat's ass about the children, parents, and community, then finish what you started!  As many unemployed workers as there are in Colorado and all over the country, I'm sure it will be a snap to replace those foolios!  Do the RIGHT THANG!!!! 

Concur
Concur

 I agree whole heartedly with ExRFMAcolectivomember. Hopefully, this will whole situation will come to an end soon, and with the the incarceration of this savage bastard (MARCOS MARTINEZ).

Guest
Guest

What about Antonio Vigil?! Where the hell is this guy! He was mentioned with the first article and he has sort of escaped...Marcos Martinez is getting stopped but who is going to stop this man Antonio Vigil?! He once was one of the "minions" he is equally responsible for what has occurred at this school and what has continued to occur at this school. What I would say is PARENTS be ware - DONT SEND YOU STUDENTS TO DENVER WEST PREP - this is where Antonio Vigil is now - he is probably abusing your child there now too since thats what he does and did at RFMA.  

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