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Teachers huddled outside the Memorial Academy of Learning and Technology school library for over an hour Thursday night, waiting to hear what had become of principal Marco Curiel, curriculum director Fred Lanuza and accounting technician Michelle Estrella. The three employees were put on administrative leave last week, with no explanation given to school staff.
But when the charter school’s board finally reconvened to announce its actions, staffers remained confused.
“We gave legal counsel direction on one disciplinary action and took disciplinary action on two other employees,” board President Benjamin Prado said.
The befuddled crowd of roughly 30 staffers asked whether the school had a principal. Prado declined to answer, saying, “The matter involves issues with employees.”
Public meetings expert Terry Francke, general counsel for the California First Amendment Coalition, said the school board is not required to give specific details about disciplinary actions, unless the action changes the employee’s status — i.e., if an employee is fired.
“Mere discipline need not be reported out as such,” he said.
The uncertainty adds to the turmoil at Memorial Academy. In December, San Diego Unified schools notified the charter school that test scores had dipped unacceptably low, possibly endangering the school. If scores don’t improve, the school district won’t renew its charter.