Letter: Protests in Richfield Schools have been counterproductive

To the editor:

The Richfield School Board met on Monday, July 17, for our regular meeting. An originally peaceful protest by former Richfield Public School employee Jessica Martinez and her supporters turned into a disruptive one when members of this group closely approached our table making loud and false statements about having asked to speak publicly to the board and being told not to. This is not true. At this point, the argument became heated, and my colleagues and I left the room. A few minutes later, we resumed the meeting and the protestors were no longer in attendance.

As many already know, Martinez and her supporters have been claiming since May this year that her dismissal was wrongful, while the administration and the board have made several statements to the contrary. The U.S. Constitution gives us the right to voice our opinions, but in this instance, protesting something that cannot be changed is not productive. We have serious problems to address, and I exhort community members to focus their efforts and energy in working with us directly to solve them.

Our school board welcomes concerns, suggestions for policy changes, and any other feedback from the public. One of the main concerns these past two months has been the lack of clarity in the process to address the board publicly. As a result, the board will discuss and make edits to a draft proposal for public comments during our next meeting on Aug. 8. I urge everyone to read this draft when the agenda for the next meeting is posted earlier next month. Please reach out to us to offer your feedback.

We have a LOT of work to do, but in just a couple of years I have seen improvements. I appreciate a change towards a mindset with a belief that all children can learn when given the right support. Is it perfect yet? No. Change unfortunately takes time, and the board looks forward to working closely with the community for a school district that serves our community as our children deserve.

Paula Cole
Richfield School Board Member