Community rallies behind Vista teacher placed on leave

Community rallies behind Vista teacher placed on leave
A social studies teacher at Rancho Buena Vista High School was placed on administrative leave in early March. The move prompted students and parents to launch an online petition in support of Vincent Romero. Photo by Hoa Quach

VISTA — Current and former students and parents are demanding a Vista social studies teacher be allowed to keep his job.

Vincent Romero, who has worked for the Vista Unified School District since 1990, was placed on paid administrative leave from his job at Rancho Buena Vista High School on March 7. Now, an online petition with more than 1,900 signatures is asking the administration to bring Romero back to the classroom.

On his last day, Romero told students he was leaving because “the organization decided to make a change.”

“(They) no longer have confidence in me that I know what I’m doing,” said Romero, whose remarks were recorded and posted on Facebook. “They don’t like what I do. They don’t like the way I do it. So, this is what happens. I’m really sorry I can’t be with you for the rest of the year. It’s not my choice, but it’s the way it goes.”

In the roughly 4-minute speech to students, an emotional Romero vowed to fight the administration.

“I’m not disappearing,” said Romero, 55. “I’m not going away. This is something I can fight, and that’s what we’re going to do — we’re going to fight until there’s nothing left to fight with. I plan to be back for your senior year.”

Romero also urged his students to be kind to their new social studies teacher but to give “hell” to Principal Charles Schindler.

Following the announcement of his departure, a petition was created on PetitionSite.com, urging the administration to keep Romero at Rancho Buena Vista High School. A protest was also held at the school.

“This makes me so angry,” wrote Jeffrey Bright of Fallbrook, who said he graduated from the school more than 20 years ago. “I already fear that our education system is falling apart. I worry my kids are not going to get a valuable education at public schools anymore.”

David Whiddon of San Marcos called the move “shameful.”

“This is a teacher that genuinely cares,” Whiddon wrote. “Both of my sons had Mr. Romero and greatly enjoyed his class.”

A former student, Jasmine Velare of Vista, said Romero was “an amazing teacher.”

“I was lucky enough to get him myself,” she wrote. “He truly cares for what he does, and that shouldn’t be taken away from him.”

Brett Killeen, assistant superintendent of human relations, said the district couldn’t elaborate on the details of Romero’s administrative leave because of confidential reasons, but did clarify that Romero was not fired.

“It is regrettable that Mr. Romero chose to engage students in a confidential personnel matter,” read a statement from the school district. “We will make sure our students have an excellent teacher to cover his classes through the balance of the year to ensure continuity in their education.”

Killeen said a credentialed social studies long-term substitute is teaching Romero’s classes while he is on administrative leave.

Romero and the Vista Teachers Association did not respond to request for comment fromThe Coast News.

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