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APS Sues Volunteers

This article (subscription) in today’s Journal is very troubling:

For years, Albuquerque students in the band Mariachi San Jose entertained audiences at festivals and competitions across the region.

Now, Albuquerque Public Schools is fighting a group of parent volunteers in court over money raised to support the group and for the right to use the name “Mariachi San Jose.”

At issue is whether Mariachi San Jose is a school program or an independent community program.

APS filed a lawsuit against some of the group’s parent volunteers last month. Attempts to resolve the dispute through a court mediator failed Tuesday, according to parents and school officials.

The relationship between APS and the volunteers soured last summer, and everyone agrees that students have suffered the most.

It wasn’t that long ago that Governor Bill Richardson was on his soap box talking about the need for government to get involved in promoting parental involvement. Now, APS is again in the spotlight for going out of its way to DISCOURAGE parental involvement.

Think about this, you have the state’s largest school district, a district with boatloads of taxpayer money, suing parents, who are in all likelihood taxpayers, to keep them from being involved. Something is seriously wrong with this picture. And it only gets worse:

Forming another mariachi group is fine, APS says, but there’s no question that Mariachi San Jose is a school-based group because it started at East San Jose.

Since when does a school fight for ownership rights? Isn’t the school’s purpose to serve the community? So what if the parents started the program at the school? Parents starting a program at a school is a good thing. Does APS really want to discourage this type of initiative by SEIZING a successful volunteer driven programs? It’s not like there is any inappropriate behavior occurring:

But [APS deputy superintendent Tom] Savage said a recent audit of the group’s activity fund at East San Jose didn’t uncover any accounting problems.

Theses actions by APS are sending the wrong message to all volunteers who contribute their time to programs throughout the district that benefit our students. I strongly encourage you to let APS know that suing volunteers is not the answer to improving student achievement. Ask the Superintendent, Dr. Beth Everitt, to stop this nonsense. You might also consider contacting the APS Board.