Lots of support for Sarmiento

Editorial Gary MugA librarian at Tonasket High School being accused of sexual misconduct with a student certainly deserved our attention, another school special board meeting was taking place in executive session in Oroville. The board was meeting to reconsider transferring Oroville High School Principal Kristen Sarmiento from her principal job back to a teaching position. This on the recommendation of Superintendent Steve Quick.

The entire meeting took place in closed door session. Sarmiento got to answer questions from the board, as well as the district’s attorney Rockie Hansen. After an hour or so the nearly two dozen high school staff members who were there to support Sarmiento were called in one at a time to say why Sarmiento should remain as principal. No one appeared to be there to say they agreed with the superintendent’s decision.

Meanwhile Sarmiento’s supporters and I sat on the deck and learned tidbits of what was being said as each staff member returned – what kind of questions were asked and what the supporters tried to get across. This makes for a very hard to write article, so instead I’m just going to give my impressions and opinion here in this space.

There seemed to be an inordinate concern by the attorney about who told the staff that Quick was trying to transfer Sarmiento into a teaching position next year. Who talked in other words, how did they find out. Well, the obvious answer is probably that you can’t keep something like that under wraps in a work environment, especially given the circumstances. What might those be you ask. Well, Sarmiento admitted that she got frustrated and at one point had told the superintendent something along the lines of “I might as well resign.” However, she didn’t resign. Unfortunately for Quick, according to reports, he proceeded to write Sarmiento’s resignation letter, but printed out accidentally on someone else’s printer. It seems the superintendent let the Genie out of the bottle, so to speak. Once out it couldn’t be put back in and soon nearly everyone knew and without Sarmiento asking, in fact the opposite, she had an outpouring of staff support in the form of letters to the board.

When I asked her if she asked Quick to write the resignation letter, she said, “No I didn’t ask him, apparently he took it upon himself.”

Teacher Ed Naillon, who was on deck in support of his principal, said “There’s a lot of good letters here.” Everyone on the deck had nothing but positive things to say about the principal, while many, who will remain unnamed, were a lot less positive about the superintendent and his methods. Here relationship with staff and students appears to be a strong one, unlike her predecessor in the job.

“I heard a rumor that she was being sent back to the classroom before she even had a letter saying she was being transferred,” said another teacher Tam Hutchinson.

“I said if we lose her you are going to shatter the morale of this building,” said teacher Linda Colvin, after returning to the deck following her talk with the board.

Others talked about Sarmiento’s open door policy, her ability to suggest different ways of getting through to students when one course of action isn’t working. Discipline problems are down at the high school they say.

“She fosters growth in teachers, she fosters growth in students,” added teacher Ed Booker.

What I’d like to know is how much did Quick’s decision cost in attorney’s fees and is it true he hired an investigator and how much did that cost.

Principals come and go, I’ve seen my share in this job, but just going on staff and student support and my own experiences, it would be a mistake to get rid of Principal Sarmiento.

About Gary DeVon

Gary DeVon is the managing editor of the Okanogan Valley Gazette-Tribune and celebrated his 25th year at the newspaper in August 2012. He graduated from Gonzaga University with a degree in Communications - Print Journalism, with an emphasis in photojournalism. He is a proud alumnus of Oroville High School. His family first settled in Okanogan County in the late 1800s. His parents are the Judy DeVon and the late Larry DeVon and he has two younger brothers - Dante and Michael. Many family members still call Oroville home. He is single with a grown daughter, Segornae Douglas and a young granddaughter, Erin.

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