Education, News

Local Attorney and Teachers Aim to Bring Down Alleged Cheating Principal

Ruelas and McDonald

Controversy surrounding Madison Principal Juan Ruelas continues to dominate the PUSD board meetings. Ruelas is pictured here with Superintendent Brian McDonald. – Photo by Terry Miller

 

By Gus Herrera

Controversy surrounding Madison School Principal Juan Ruelas once again consumed the public comment portion of the Pasadena Unified School District’s (PUSD) board meeting last week.

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 as recently as a couple of months ago.

Last week’s criticisms 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 last Thursday’s 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 includes a summary of all the evidence presented up until now, 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.

Former teachers also stood before the board in opposition to Ruelas, testifying that Roosevelt Special Education Teacher John Yang, who was responsible for the student testing, was also involved in the cheating scandal.

 

Ruelas

Testimony claims that Ruelas went so far as to have teachers sign a form saying they were unaware of any test cheating. – Photo by Terry Miller

 

Testimony cited that Ruelas and Yang worked very closely together and put extreme pressure on teachers to have their students perform well on tests, especially district-wide benchmark tests.

One comment recalled a time when a special education student with severe physical limitations received a 100 percent on a test personally administered by Yang. The teacher knew something was not right – according to the testimony, the student in question could hardly read back to back sentences without a struggle and, furthermore, the highest scores achieved by students capped off around the 80th percentile.

Once the teacher reported the cheating to Ruelas, testimony claimed that the principal was subsequently “critical of her,” “picked on her,” and “went after her.”

Testimony also reports that students said Yang “had given them the answers to the test,” after which many students clamored to have Yang test them.

Additionally, certain teachers claim that they were asked to sign a form saying that they were unaware of any cheating.

Interestingly enough, there were some individuals who spoke in favor of Ruelas. Speakers representing the League of United Latin American Citizen (LULAC) and mothers of current students argued that, in spite of the controversies, the Ruelas administration has indeed brought about positive changes.

Citing a significant drop in suspensions since the beginning of Reulas’ tenure, some current students even came forth to say that Madison has developed an overall better learning environment than existed before.

One speaker even criticized the teachers leading the charge against Ruelas for looking out for their own pocketbooks, as opposed to the welfare of the children and their education.

Only time will tell how the PUSD board chooses to handle this impactful issue.

November 2, 2016

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ONE COMMENT ON THIS POST To “Local Attorney and Teachers Aim to Bring Down Alleged Cheating Principal”

  1. Florence Annang says:

    What I found so upsetting and disrespectful from a organization as LULAC that we get up and say that Madison was much better now and Ruelas had got rid of a lot of worthless teachers… I will leave that there for everyone to think on… then they said that those protesting Ruelas only had one parent as was just day laborers hired to protest… I will leave that there for everyone to think on…
    HOW DARE THEY. Discredit the over 270 signatures plus over 300 community members who signed to ask him to be removed maybe it’s time for LULAC to go door to door to see if the community they represent even knows who or what they do or as they seems to be a middle class group that has no problem looking down on their own instead of acknowledging to help and not condescend.
    HOW DARE THEY. Disrespect the character of the teachers who invested their own money and time into the kids of Madison and truly cared that is not what a organization that promotes Hispanic voices should say or do especially if most teachers were Hispanic.
    HOW DARE THEY. Disrespect the day laborers are they not parents? How can a Hispanic organization belittle other hispanics who are trying to feed their families and grow in a country that is not their own shame on you LULAC and your leaders that allowed that to be spoken and put on record last night.
    LULAC accused the Board members last night that that IF THEY WERE THINKING OF GETTING RID OF RUELAS they were coming from a political stance ERM!!! LULAC you are a political organization!!!
    Last but not very at all least. The last woman to speak on Ruelas behalf was the same woman who accused a teacher at the end of the school year for hurting her child and then surprise of all surprises she is given a position of employment at Madison or she is volunteering every day from the goodness of her heart or maybe the SSC OR PTA funds are helping her out… Ill just leave that there… and surprises of all surprises is last night saying she is a mother but somehow forgetting to tell the Board members she is now employed by Mr Ruelas is that important detail slipped her mind.
    Yes we are on opposite sides but last night from us we delivered facts to Ruelas cheating at Roosevelt we delivered testimonies from teachers of his cover up and lies.
    So LULAC if you are coming in opposition it’s time to move from accusations, assumptions and feelings and deliver facts because that is what a political organization as yourselves should be doing. Maybe the leader of your organization will be at the next school board meeting as he was missing in action last night.
    Stop talking about how clean the school is how happy the kids are how everyone loves Mr Ruelas and as a organization fight for the gap to be closed in the Madison kids, fight for their English Learners to start succeeding with real test scores that bring growth, fight for the empowerment of parents to understand a system that keeps them in the dark, fight that the teachers have a voice and teach not under hostile environment were parents are employed to be spies and divide teachers from each other, fight for your community, parents and as you keep saying kids.
    JUSTICE IS ABOUT REVEALING THE TRUTH. Madison is a community school a focus school that is what this group is fighting for that every parent and teachers voice be heard without the fear of retaliation so they can educate the next generation to excellence or LULAC and anyone else who seems to be blind or maybe the favors they could be receiving for supporting Ruelas is what it’s about ohh okay now that is a political norm…Now carry on…

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