Parents express concern over principal’s abrupt resignation

OCEANSIDE — Parents fired away with questions and concerns about the resignation of Garrison Elementary School Principal Dr. Fausto Barragan at the Oceanside Unified School District board meeting on Dec. 13.

No reply was given to questions asked by 20 speakers during the meeting’s open comments, but parents were told their concerns would be addressed.

Following the meeting, parent Karen Derival said she and other parents were alarmed by a letter from Barragan that was sent home with students on Dec 2.

The letter stated Barragan resigned for health reasons and took an immediate medical leave. Derival said the letter caused stress and concern among students who read the news before they reached home.

“We generally get information through email, a lot of children read it before they got home and were saddened, confused and scared,” Derival said.

Derival said since then, parents have not been updated on next steps and interim school leadership.

She added multiple school site issues have come up since Barragan’s resignation announcement, and parents feel no one is addressing them. Among concerns are perceived short staffing of special education personnel and cafeteria workers, and poor conditions of facilities.

Derival said Barragan was working to resolve some of the issues, and now parents feel abandoned.

“The school at this time is without a principal,” Derival said. “The children are feeling unsafe and staff are struggling. The OUSD is not responding to outcries.”

Furthermore counted on annual holiday traditions, like the food drive for school families in need, seem to have fallen by the wayside.

“It’s a really low-income school, it’s a hard place to be without leadership and answers,” Derival said.

Two weeks have passed without updates. Derival said a school site information meeting was scheduled and cancelled.

“His office has been empty since he has been gone,” Derival said. “He never spoke to us; someone should be doing that.”

Derival said the yearly school winter performance was held this week, but no further news was shared.

Cara Michel is the school site-based resource teacher and on-campus administrator.

Lisa Contreras, school district director of communications, said Michel has been addressing daily concerns of students, staff and parents.

Contreras said the district is finalizing a schedule to interview prospective candidates, but will not have updates to report until January.

Students and teachers will be on winter break from Dec. 17 to Jan. 8.

“We’re hoping in January to have candidates,” Contreras said. “We come back (from break) on the ninth of January, we’ll know more by then.”

Barragan served as school principal from 2013 to December 2016. He worked for the district for six years. His official last date of work was Dec. 16.

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