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Pueblo HS Scandal: Principal's contract renewed because he "lawyered up"

Posted at 4:05 PM, Mar 29, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-29 21:42:44-04

The controversy continues surrounding the Pueblo High School grade changing scandal that we broke two years ago. We have reaction to this week's 3-to-2 vote by the TUSD board to renew the principal's contract another year.

Pueblo Principal Auggie Romero admitted on social media two years ago to violating state law. He changed the grades of 6 seniors without the teacher's consent. The district hired an outside law firm to investigate and this week the board voted to release the confidential findings. We've learned the law firm confirmed Romero illegally changed the grades.

Board Member Michael Hicks has been critical of the Pueblo HS principal -- repeatedly saying he's lost faith in Auggie Romero's leadership because of the illegal grade changing scandal and school safety issues that included vandalism and drugs on campus over the past few years.
Hicks was the swing vote -- the vote needed to renew all principal's contracts, including Romero's.

Here's what he has to say about his decision. "It's hard for me to go against what the superintendent has brought forward and when there's been no official sanctions against the principal."

That's true. The Deconcini Law Firm found two district administrators who investigated the illegal grade changes did not take action, but should have. At the board meeting, Superintendent Gabriel Trujillo explained he put Romero on the renewal list because he could not revisit or change the previous administration's inaction.

Hicks said another matter influenced his decision -- Romero "lawyered up". Hicks said, "I was informed that Dr. Romero does have a lawyer, who is champing at the bit to come after the district if he was going to be released."

The teacher who blew the whistle says she's not only appalled a principal can break the law and get away with it, she's also disappointed the current administration has not assured the public it won't happen again. "That is my reason I'm coming forward. Is that it doesn't happen  again, what are they going to do to ensure that it doesn't happen again. Do they know whether it's Trujillo or those just below him, do they know actually what's happening at the schools?"

KGUN9 requested interviews with the superintendent and Pueblo's principal. No word yet on their decision. We are continuing to dig into this report and will have reports in the coming days and weeks.

KGUN9's investigative reports leading up to the release of the law firm's memo.