Farmersville students, parents seek superintendent's ouster

The Fresno BeeJanuary 14, 2014 

— About 80 Farmersville High students and parents sought the removal of Superintendent Christina Luna at a protest rally Tuesday morning.

Protesters told reporters that Luna should be fired for allegedly launching a campaign to fire popular principals and teachers and for allegedly mismanaging district funds.

Luna told reporters that although principals have been reassigned, the reassignments were not punitive. Teacher dismissals require board approval, she said.

Additionally, she denied allegations that funds have been mismanaged.

"I'm not sure where that's coming from," Luna said.

School board president Alice Lopez said protesting students "are being misled" by adults feeding them incorrect information.

"These are just accusations to get people upset," Lopez said. "They are putting the children in danger to ask them to protest."

Tuesday was the first day of school at Farmersville Unified after the holiday break.

Protesters who included parents rallied at a local park about 8 a.m., then walked to the district office with students chanting "Get Luna out."

Following an adult-led rally across the street from the district office that prompted officials to lock down neighboring Freedom Elementary School, students and parents walked to nearby Farmersville High, where they stood outside holding signs and chanting.

"I want to help our teachers save their jobs," said Yakira Barrajas, 17, a junior.

Farmersville resident John Alvarez, a critic of Luna, said the superintendent has created animosity by displaying a lack of "courtesy" when confronted with complaints.

Parent Kristie Hamilton said Luna has a history of poor community relations and was forced out as superintendent of Calexico Unified School District before coming to Farmersville about two years ago.

The Calexico school board didn't renew her contract, the Imperial Valley Press reported in 2011.

Earlier, a TV news report by KSWT in El Centro said parents in Calexico stormed a school board meeting urging that Luna's contract not be renewed.

Lopez, the school board president, said Luna's professional background was vetted by the previous superintendent, Janet Jones, now retired.

The district has about 2,500 students attending a high school, junior high, three elementary schools and a continuation high school.

Farmersville school Trustee Don Mason said Luna is safe in her job for now because the school board is divided 3-2 in her favor.

Although it's normal for students to defend their teachers, "I hate to see kids out of school," he said.

School board member Alvin Vanderslice said the anti-Luna demonstration represents the view of a disgruntled few in a small city where community uproars occur periodically.

"People are upset, but it's not a majority of people," he said.

The reporter can be reached at lgriswold@fresnobee.com or at (559) 441-2416 or on Twitter @fb_LewGriswold.

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