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Parents express concern over principal’s abrupt resignation

OCEANSIDE — Parents fired away with questions and concerns about the resignation of Garrison Elementary School Principal Dr. Fausto Barragan at the Oceanside Unified School District board meeting on Dec. 13.

No reply was given to questions asked by 20 speakers during the meeting’s open comments, but parents were told their concerns would be addressed.

Following the meeting, parent Karen Derival said she and other parents were alarmed by a letter from Barragan that was sent home with students on Dec 2.

The letter stated Barragan resigned for health reasons and took an immediate medical leave. Derival said the letter caused stress and concern among students who read the news before they reached home.

“We generally get information through email, a lot of children read it before they got home and were saddened, confused and scared,” Derival said.

Derival said since then, parents have not been updated on next steps and interim school leadership.

She added multiple school site issues have come up since Barragan’s resignation announcement, and parents feel no one is addressing them. Among concerns are perceived short staffing of special education personnel and cafeteria workers, and poor conditions of facilities.

Derival said Barragan was working to resolve some of the issues, and now parents feel abandoned.

“The school at this time is without a principal,” Derival said. “The children are feeling unsafe and staff are struggling. The OUSD is not responding to outcries.”

Furthermore counted on annual holiday traditions, like the food drive for school families in need, seem to have fallen by the wayside.

“It’s a really low-income school, it’s a hard place to be without leadership and answers,” Derival said.

Two weeks have passed without updates. Derival said a school site information meeting was scheduled and cancelled.

“His office has been empty since he has been gone,” Derival said. “He never spoke to us; someone should be doing that.”

Derival said the yearly school winter performance was held this week, but no further news was shared.

Cara Michel is the school site-based resource teacher and on-campus administrator.

Lisa Contreras, school district director of communications, said Michel has been addressing daily concerns of students, staff and parents.

Contreras said the district is finalizing a schedule to interview prospective candidates, but will not have updates to report until January.

Students and teachers will be on winter break from Dec. 17 to Jan. 8.

“We’re hoping in January to have candidates,” Contreras said. “We come back (from break) on the ninth of January, we’ll know more by then.”

Barragan served as school principal from 2013 to December 2016. He worked for the district for six years. His official last date of work was Dec. 16.

1 comment

Laurel Kaskurs January 28, 2017 at 1:06 pm

I am the mother of a second grader at Garrison Elementary. I was so saddened to learn about Dr. B’s sudden departure. I hope he realizes just how special he is. I will miss the happy and first name basis way he interacted with the kids and showed compassion and patience towards families that sometimes faced special challenges. Ours was one of those families. We have had our share of excitement in the since first enrolling our boy in Ms Kimsey’s pre- K class. From family separation, divorce issues to an apartment fire that caused us to lose our home on the second day of Kindergarten, through unexpected health issues, personal struggles, multiple moves, and our child’s occasional behavior problems that showed up as a result of our shortcomings as imperfect parents, you have been a solid, smiling, and nurturing role model for my son. Your constant compassion is what makes it so much harder to think of Garrison without seeing you smiling and waving to greet your students each day at the crosswalk. I know saying goodbye must be very difficult for you, but you need to take care of yourself and I completely respect your choices regarding the future. Our hearts are with you and we will cherish forever the times our kids had the pleasure of knowing you as their principal.
I have a letter I found in my son’s backpack that he wrote to you and I wish I knew where to mail it It says,

“Hi Dr. B, I miss you, Dr.B. Please b safe. O k?
Someday if you don’t come back I will leave forever. Forever!
I am sad, Dr. B because you are not at Garrison. From Julian D We love you, Dr B.”

And he drew a picture of you and himself with hearts all around. Thanks for being there for my boy and most of all thank you for being you. HUGS! Hugs! Hugs!

Laurel Kaskurs
Julian D’s mom

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