BROWNSVILLE — The Texas State Teachers Association, Association of Brownsville Educators and the National Education Association started a petition on Change.org asking for a vote of no confidence for Brownsville Independent School District Superintendent Rene Gutierrez.
The petition, which had received 600 signatures as of Friday afternoon, hopes to have Gutierrez removed from his position, claiming failure to effectively lead the school district prior to and during the coronavirus pandemic. Among the concerns brought by the different associations are claims of significant inequities of employees working remotely; egregious violations of families First Coronavirus Response Act, and failure to assist employees who have requested to work remotely due to compromised health conditions and/or need to childcare. In addition to the Taskforce Committee not being a representation of all employees and mandated teaching platforms such as Google Meets with no input or recommendations from teachers as to what was needed to use those platforms effectively.
In response to the petition, BISD said in a prepared statement, “The District respects the associations’ opinions, however, it is the responsibility and obligation of the BISD superintendent to follow and adhere to state and federal guidelines such as the Texas Education Agency and the United States Department of Education to provide the highest quality of instruction during these extraordinary and difficult times.
“Although the decisions made by the local, state, and national governments may not be understood, BISD and stakeholders must work together as a community to achieve the district’s mission and goals of educating our children,” BISD said.
The district further stated “BISD has developed a plan of action to safely begin the phase-in process of allowing students to attend face-to-face instruction as required by state guidelines. This plan has been presented to the Board of Trustees and Administration to start the implementation of the reopening phase in late September.”
The pandemic started in March and neither the teachers nor students returned to the classroom after that but ended the 2019-2020 school year with distance learning.
“With this pandemic starting, just like any district, there were a lot of issues and we kept addressing it with him to help him understand what the teachers and the employees were going through to address those issues and he would not respond. So, we kept getting an increase of concerns from members and they were valid concerns: how they are handling the distance learning, how they are handling the safety equipment and everything that’s being done at the school district. They were valid concerns at an alarming rate so that is why we kept pushing forward and we would go to the virtual board meetings to speak,” Ida Abeldano, organizing specialist with TSTA, said in an interview.