An Ortiz Middle School teacher is resigning effective Feb. 29, citing "unsavory practices within Santa Fe Public Schools" and a district-wide "dangerous situation."
Darryl Waller, a choral director and piano teacher at the middle school, wrote a letter addressed to the district Jan. 30 notifying the administration of his intent to resign. In the letter he states that he was assaulted Jan. 25 and then put on administrative leave while "the student and his fellow perpetrators have been allowed to remain in school with nothing less than what appears to be a verbal warning."
In the letter, Waller also alleges that:
- SFPS administrators condone poor student behavior and "clearly send a strong message to students and faculty members that students are allowed to behave in any way they choose"
- Ortiz assistant principal Steve Baca has refused to address Waller's concerns and made "extremely unprofessional" comments, telling Waller if he didn't like the situation at Waller, to ask to be transferred
- Ortiz principal Denine Mares told him that letters documenting the problem "do not scare her"
- When Waller was hired, he was promised a salary that he never received
- The district uses "suspicious hiring practices"
Neither Ortiz leadership nor SFPS superintendent Bobbie Gutierrez returned calls for comment.
Ortiz isn't the only SFPS middle school that allegedly has serious discipline problems. As SFR previously reported, DeVargas Middle School had five fights in six days after removing an assistant principal who was able to control the students more effectively.
Waller's letter specifically exhorts the SFPS Board of Education to "investigate, develop and enforce strict policies before a student or faculty member is severely injured."
A Jan. 6 letter to SFPS from DeVargas teachers also cited safety concerns, describing numerous assaults by students on teachers and concluding that "these students are clearly running the school."
BoE vice president Glenn Wikle says there has been followup to the concerns raised about DeVargas, but declines to elaborate at this point. He said he put middle school discipline on the agenda for discussion at the BoE meeting Feb. 7.
"I saw [Waller's] letter, it was very moving,' Wikle says. "I'll be talking it about other board members at our upcoming board meeting."