Original URL: http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/centralphoenix/articles/1004roosespat1004Z4.html

Roosevelt superintendent a no-show
Misses study session; speculation swirling
The Arizona Republic
Oct. 4, 2003
Betty Reid

A study session designed to inform governing board leaders and south Phoenix residents about the Roosevelt School District didn't take place Tuesday because Superintendent Frederick Warren didn't show up.

Neither Warren nor his attorney, Kevin Koelbel, could be reached for comment about his absence or his squabbles with the board.

Members of the Roosevelt governing board speculated that he skipped the meeting based on the advice of his attorney.

Gael Tillery, a Roosevelt spokeswoman, said Warren was not at work Tuesday or Wednesday. She couldn't say whether he would be in his office the rest of the week.

The study session grew out of a Sept. 25 governing board meeting after some board members requested that Warren's performance be evaluated.

The board then tabled Warren's job review after an executive session and instead suggested Tuesday's study session.

Warren said he was "surprised" by the call for an early job review. The governing board was scheduled to scrutinize his job performance in December, based on his contract.

Warren was supposed to answer questions at the study session relating to school accountability, student test scores, Title I funds, bilingual education, real estate buys, his relationship with the board, jobs in the district and bilingual job applicants.

Carlos Avelor, the governing board member who pushed for Warren's early job evaluation, said he learned that Warren would not attend the meeting 90 minutes before the planned study session.

"We adjourned the meeting based on legal counsel and there was no reason given, other than health reasons," Avelor said after the meeting.

Board President Betty Ware said she could not discuss the contents of a letter given to board members stating the reason why Warren didn't show.

Parts of the items listed on the study session agenda will be moved to the regular board meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Ware said.

Warren's failure to show launched talk among people who milled around after the meeting.

John Ramos, a Roosevelt parent, guessed Warren might not be prepared to discuss items on the agenda. Ramos said he wants to learn more about the use of federal education funds for poor children.

Michael Pops, a parent at J.R. Davis Elementary School, suggested that the governing board break down the list of issues on the agenda for Warren.

Pops suggested that No Child Left Behind, a federal school accountability policy, could be discussed during one week, and bilingual applications for jobs could be discussed the second week.

Pops also urged the district to notify parents a week early about the study sessions. He said there is a perception that the debate is not about education but is turning into a squabble between African-Americans and Hispanics.

"The School Board is muddied in personal politics; they should be more concerned about unraveling the confusion around NCLB and to bring the school improvement up to par instead of all this infighting," Pops said.

"The Hispanic community needs to understand that this is a public school financed by public money, and they have to understand that a free appropriate education is for all children. Just because they are big in numbers, they don't have the right to demand everything for English learners."

Ramos said that the debate is not about African-American and Hispanic relations. He said he favors a district superintendent, regardless of color, who is effective at his job.

Reach the reporter at betty.reid@arizonarepublic.com or (602) 444-8049.