About 100 Pueblo High School students attempted to stage a walkout this morning at Pueblo after word got out this week the principal is resigning. And now KGUN9 has learned why Auggie Romero decided to leave.
The TUSD board accepted principal Auggie Romero's resignation on Tuesday.Romero has been at the center of an illegal grade changing investigation and the school just lost its magnet status.
A pack of students could be seen running from the Pueblo campus -- some jumping fences -- while dozens more gathered on the football field in an attempt to stage a walkout, but staff was ready. They locked gates, but 20 students managed to leave the campus.
TUSD High School Director, Matt Munger, said, "The biggest concern is that they're safe which is why we had safety officers shadow the students around until the group broke apart."
The walkout was in support of principal Auggie Romero who's been the center of a investigation after he changed the grades of 6 students without teacher approval -- a state violation.
A flyer had circulated a day before among students, which read, "To walk out to school district for Dr. Romero and our school reputation" -- after Romero sent out a letter to the staff this week explaining why he's retiring.
Munger said, "The letter was only sent out to staff members, not sent out to community members, The students got wind of it."
It reads: "In January, I was made aware that the new Governing Board majority would most likely non-renew my contract during the contract approval process. But to this unfortunate and corrupt reality, and to ensure myself options, I submitted retirement paperwork. The only reason I didn't mention this to anyone is because I was hoping I would survive the board approval process. If I survived that process, my plan was to immediately rescind my retirement.
KGUN9 Investigative Reporter Valerie Cavazos reached out to the three -- assumed -- majority board members -- Michael Hicks, Mark Stegeman and Racheal Sedgwick.
All three said they don't know what he's talking about and they've never discussed Romero's contract for next year.
The district tells me Romero tried to rescind his retirement hours before the public board meeting, but his name appeared on the list of separations Tuesday night and the board voted unanimously to accept the list. Hicks says it can't be rescinded after the vote so his retirement is effective at the end of June.
KGUN9 requested an interview with Romero on the walkout as well as the letter to staff, but was not given the opportunity.
KGUN9 reached out to all 5 board members for comments:
Michael Hicks: "I'm not sure as to why or who if anyone made this comment to Dr. Romero back in January 2017, I haven't had any discussions with anyone regarding Dr. Romero's contract. I have been critical regarding the ongoing situations at Pueblo High School (fires and missing master keys) and had concerns regarding his lack of supervision at the school site and the lost of Pueblo's Magnet status.I'm unaware of what Dr. Romero's perception or definition of corrupt is, all I can say is that I'm someone who is honest and has high standards of behavior and beliefs which is the foundation of my morals that I live by. I have been called a lot of things, but never been accused of being "corrupt".Mark Stegeman: I never indicated to anyone that I would advocate for non-renewal. I repeatedly expressed concern about the grade-changing incident and the lack of consequences for what appeared to be a clear statutory violation, but I did not advocate for any specific consequence. Romero was on the separations list that was approved unanimously by the board.Kristel Foster: This is the first I have heard of such a walk out or letter. I am accustomed to getting updates on situations like these so I am informed and able to respond, but that has not been the case this week.As for Dr. Romero's statement, I am sure many employees in TUSD feel big changes are eminent since the last election changed the make up of our Governing Board. I am sure many are responding and making decisions about their jobs accordingly.
Foster as well as Sedgwick told KGUN9 that they did not talk to Romero in January about his contract. The only board member who hasn't responded at this time is Adelita Grijalva.
Munger said the students acted on their own. "As an effort to show support they took it upon themselves to do this. No way encouraged by Dr. Romero."
Munger said students who left class or the campus without permission will face consequences, but no student will be suspended.