What has happened all summer in the Alhambra Unified School District? Explore our timeline. We hope that you will consider joining our battle against the district after learning about our story.
We would like to thank Pasadena Star-News for their ongoing reporting, particularly reporters Courtney Tompkins and Zen Vuong and photographers Keith Birmingham and Walt Mancini. We also want to thank the Editorial Board of the Los Angeles News Group and Larry Wilson for their support of student journalism.
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The text from the timeline is below.
May 22 – First year teacher and longtime Speech & Debate coach Andrew Nguyen was informed that his contract would not be renewed.
May 26 – Parents sent petitions to administration opposing Nguyen’s dismissal, and students gathered outside the principal’s office, seeking a reason for Nguyen’s dismissal.
May 27 – The Matador published a feature article on Nguyen as well as a statement noting that Principal Jim Schofield censored their article regarding Nguyen’s dismissal.
May 28 – Students created a Thank You video to show their appreciation for Nguyen.
May 29 – Students called off a protest after Roz Collier from the Alhambra Teacher’s Association informed Nguyen that “the district could cancel Nguyen’s health benefits, change his reason for termination, which has not been made public, and have the students arrested if they went through with the demonstration.”
June 2 – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) formally threatened a lawsuit against AUSD for violating students’ First Amendment rights, telling the district that they had until June 12 to respond.
The district responded, saying that they would conduct an investigation. However, on June 22, it was discovered that the superintendent’s letter responding to ACLU was removed from the district website.
June 2 – About 100 people attended an AUSD board meeting, where 20 students and parents brought their concerns regarding the district’s violations of students’ First Amendment rights and the circumstances behind Nguyen’s dismissal.
June 19 – The Matador published the article that was initially censored by Schofield.
June 23 – Students and alumni protested in front of the district office with hero Transparency Man and brought their grievances to the board, emphasizing the board’s lack of action in light of student discontent.
June 25 – The Matador released an article revealing the result of the district’s investigation, which now claimed the censorship was unintentional, and that Collier was never instructed to inform Nguyen that students could be arrested for proceeding with their protest.
June 30 – Students again protested and requested answers at the board meeting. Community members also spoke about the district’s lack of community outreach, particularly focusing on the Local Control and Accountability Plan. Board President Ms. Adele Andrade-Stadler announced that Andrew Nguyen would not be rehired and that personnel matters cannot be publicly discussed.
July 1 – Jim Schofield is promoted to the district position of Director of English Language Development. Debbie Stone leaves her district position of Coordinator of English Language Development to become San Gabriel High School’s principal.
July 8 – AUSD held a private meeting regarding Employee Law with district attorney, Jay Fernow. Anyone other than current students and staff were barred from entering, and recording and photography were prohibited at this meeting. Security guards flanked the doors as administrators checked ID. Fernow refused to answer students’ questions about specific cases.
Students learned that the district began investigating Nguyen after their decision not to rehire him, despite their emphasis on his right to privacy. The district sent a school security officer to his doorstep, requesting that he meet with district administration without a union representative.
Over 300 citizens signed a petition requesting that Nguyen be rehired, Schofield be removed from AUSD, and school board members who fail to represent their constituency also be removed.
July 21 – Angela Gomez, a yearbook staff member, spoke out at an AUSD board meeting about the administration’s efforts to cancel a field trip to their annual yearbook camp as retaliation for The Matador’s summer coverage. Students, again, requested answers from the board regarding their unaddressed concerns.
August 2 – Award-winning media adviser Jennifer Kim was put on administrative leave indefinitely.
August 4 – At an AUSD board meeting, Elizabeth Makarem, a former San Gabriel High teacher who was involuntarily transferred to an elementary school, recounted an incident where she asked for continued teaching support following the involuntary transfer and was told, “If you don’t like it, get out.” Citizens continued to speak out to the school board.
Photos by Sydney Trieu/The Matador, Simon Yung/The Matador, Chelsey Tran/The Matador, Keith Birmingham/Pasadena Star-News, Walt Mancini/Pasadena Star-News, and SGHS Speech & Debate. Graphic by Kristy Duong.
Note: Pictures may not be in chronological order.