It’s Official: Embattled Madison Principal Ruelas Will Not Return in the Fall

Ruelas, left, with PUSD Superintendent Brian McDonald. – Photo by Terry Miller / Beacon Media News

Photo and Story by Terry Miller

In a carefully worded letter dated June 6, Juan Ruelas {Madison Elementary Principal} informed the community at large that he will not be returning to Madison after summer break. The principal had been widely criticized by teachers, parents and the media in recent years following several complaints about his approach to education.

Much has been documented surrounding the situation, from defamation lawsuits, to a mass faculty exodus, Madison Elementary School has certainly dominated the PUSD board’s plate in recent past. There was even a petition signed by 346 community members (including 169 Madison parents) to remove the polarizing principal.

Critics focused on the accusation that Principal Ruelas cheated in order to manipulate student test scores to falsely display improvement under his administration. The accusations claim that Ruelas not only carried out cheating at his current position at Madison, but also during his former role at Roosevelt Elementary School.

“The so-called Roosevelt miracle did not happen!… it is an insult to the collective citizens of Pasadena,” proclaimed one passionate speaker.

Attorney Dale Gronemeier took the podium on behalf of the Community Council for Equality and Justice at Madison during one school board meeting. In an attempt to be a “voice for the voiceless,” Gronemeier submitted a 41-page analysis to the board of the alleged cheating that took place at both Madison and Roosevelt under Ruelas.

The analysis included a summary of all the evidence presented, in addition to new evidence. Also included is testimony from former teachers who claim to have first-hand knowledge of the cheating.

Gronemeier demanded that the board take “immediate remedial action” and carry out a thorough investigation to correct all wrongdoings. “You can’t sweep it under the rug like that,” concluded the fiery attorney as he walked back to his seat.

The letter Ruelas sent reads as follows:

“After careful deliberation and conversations with my family and many of you, I have decided to accept a promotion as Director of the Pasadena Unified School District’s Language Assessment & Development Department, effective July 1, 2017.

It has been my privilege to serve as principal of Madison, and to have had a part in the growth and development of its amazing students. I believe that the children of Madison are capable of reaching the stars, and that it is up to us as parents, educators, and community leaders to ensure that they are well-prepared and supported.

Together, we have faced daunting challenges over the last two years and emerged stronger and profoundly focused on children and their successes. We have built strong and efficient systems to ensure that children learn in an environment where excellence, responsibility, and care are valued.

Today, Madison students are challenged to be their best and are recognized for their accomplishments around attendance, academic excellence, and overall improvement. Families are welcomed both as partners in the education of children and as volunteers on campus. Partnerships with community organizations support the health and well-being of Madison students and their families before, during, and after school. Student achievement is rising in math and language arts and Madison’s English learners have made significant progress.

There is no question that children are the focus at Madison Elementary and that the school community is dedicated to the success of its students. However, the contentious circumstances of the last two years have had an impact on the students, teachers, staff, and community at large. It is time for this community to begin a process of reconciliation in order to provide a quality education and the healthiest environment for the students of Madison Elementary. It is time for a new principal to lead Madison Elementary to the next level of success.

I deeply appreciate the encouragement, support, and assistance I have received here.


Juan Ruelas”

June 6, 2017

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