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Centennial High student body president confronts LCPS superintendent

Parents and students from Centennial High School grilled the Las Cruces Public School Board members on their actions related to the discovery of mold at Columbia Elementary School.

Heated discussion at Tuesday’s board meeting

“I would remind the board and the superintendent that they serve at the will of the people of Las Cruces,” said Mateo Garcia-Bryce, the freshman class president of Centennial High School. “More and more of these people are beginning to take issue with the lack of transparency among the officials in this room.”

During a heated discussion on Tuesday afternoon, board members and the superintendent of Las Cruces Public Schools addressed the closure of Columbia Elementary and the relocation of students to Centennial High School.

At the beginning of the 2018 – 2019 school year, Columbia Elementary was closed as a result of a mold infestation, a move that displaced hundreds of students. Last month, the school board voted to demolish Columbia and rebuild the school nearby.

“Quite simply, there are no other school buildings in the district that are able to hold 401 elementary students,” said Superintendent Dr. Greg Ewing, reading what appeared to be a prepared statement.

The Columbia Elementary school students have attended Centennial High since September 2018, when their school was closed. Centennial High School students and parents have expressed concerns about what they call a lack of transparency.

“This body and this district administration does not truly value student input,” said Cameron Castillo, the student body president of Centennial High School. “It values student input when it fits their agenda.”

“I am not afraid to talk to people who disagree with me,” said Ray Jaramillo, the school board member for district one. “Could we have done better? Absolutely. Absolutely. We are in a tough, tough situation with both schools.”


CHS student body president alleges retaliation

“The voices of the students are not going to be silenced,” Castillo said. We’re always going to give our input, because at the end of the day, it’s about protecting the sanctity of Centennial High School.”

Castillo told ABC-7 that he was temporarily suspended from his position as student body president following a passionate discussion between students and parents on March 11th.

“No student was suspended from school as a result of Monday night’s SAC (school advisory council) meeting,” said Samantha Lewis, a spokeswoman for the district. She did not comment on whether Castillo had been temporarily suspended from his position.

“If I go down as a result of this, I will know in my heart that I went down fighting for the people of Centennial High School,” he told ABC-7 before the meeting.

“I am extremely concerned with the actions this administration has taken to intimidate this young man, bully him and blackball him,” said Erika Mulcock, a mother in the district.

Maria Flores, the district three board member, said the district did not retaliate against Castillo.

“There may have been an investigation, but that is all I know. We are not afraid to hear your voices,” she said.

When asked about Castillo’s claim of suspension from his role, a district spokesman at 5:30 p.m. sent an email saying he would not comment on any individual student, but that the district would not discipline a student for expressing his or her opinions.

That spokesman, Damien Willis, quoted the district handbook, which reads:

“Students active in any extra-curricular activity, who are referred to the office for disciplinary reasons such as truancy, abusive, language, etc. may be removed from any school team or club office.”

Read the full statement below:

Castillo had one final comment for the superintendent.

“Mr. Superintendent, I know that you’re coming after me,” Castillo said, adding, “You’re not going to get rid of me and you’re not going to get rid of the voice of the students. Thank you very much.”

Dr. Ewing had no response for Castillo.

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