Metro-area middle school principal on leave

BELEN, N.M. (KRQE) – A metro-area school principal has been placed on leave and now the school’s district says it’s trying to tackle big problems in the wake of all of it.

Belen Consolidated School’s superintendent Ron Marquez confirmed with News 13 on Tuesday that Belen Middle School’s principal Sheila Armijo is on administrative leave due to an investigation into a specific financial issue.

Marquez says the issue is with a professional development day Armijo took recently. Marquez says Belen Schools is typically reimbursed by the state or federal government for those courses, however, Marquez says this reimbursement is in jeopardy.

That’s because the date that Armijo went on the professional development trip changed after the board had approved it, according to Marquez. He says that’s against district policy.

Marquez says Armijo was placed on administrative leave on August 15th, just three days before school started.

Around the same time, Marquez says the district discovered that the middle school was headed into a crisis with its class scheduling that has since bled into the first weeks of school.

One parent told News 13 on Tuesday that in the first seven days of school, his daughter’s schedule has switched as many as nine times.

James Shaw says he heard from Belen Middle School officials that another problem occurred when the school wasn’t able to access some placement test scores from the previous year.

“It’s due to the them having lost their scores and then they did the schedules and now they’re trying to jostle everything around,” said Shaw.

However, Marquez denies that “lost test scores” has anything to do with the issue.

Marquez says the district says the problem occurred with its “course matrix” process, which places kids in core classes like math, science, social studies and language. He says some kids were in classes of around three to six individuals, while others were placed in classes of more than 40 students.

Because of that, Marquez says the school basically had to revamp its entire student schedule.

Some parents told News 13 that many students didn’t even have classes for the first several days of school and hung out in home-room.

Shaw says all of it has had a negative impact on his daughter.

“Her whole attitude toward school, her attitude towards life when she comes home she’s all stressed out,” said Shaw.

Other parents say while it was an initial inconvenience, things have gotten better.

“They got electives and at first they had two math classes and two English classes, but he’s been pretty happy with it,” said Julia Garcia, mother of a 7th grade girl at Belen Middle School.

“Everything worked out OK, last year in Los Lunas it was worse actually,” said Kenneth, a parent with an 8th grade boy at Belen Middle School.

The district says its goal in the first few days was to make sure that kids had common core classes. Now, they’re trying to straighten out problems with electives.

The district says it should have the problems fixed soon. A representative with the superintendent’s office says about five parents complained about the problems during the first week of school, however, they haven’t received any new complaints as of recent.

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