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New Norwalk High School Principal ‘Moves’ Long-Time AP Biology Teacher

By Kristin Grafft

Biology teacher Della Robertson attended the Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District Board meeting, along with a posse of supportive teachers, to shed light on a recent incident she had with the principal of Norwalk High School.

Robertson said she believes the students in her A.P. biology class were treated unfairly when the new principal, Dr. Ryan Smith, moved Robertson to a different class mid-way through the school year. 

Robertson explained that she had been teaching a special curriculum she had cultivated based on the ‘Barcoding Life’s Matrix Program’—a program she is specially trained in. Now that Robertson is no longer teaching that class, those students will not be able to finish the curriculum or projects they had been working on. 

Kelley Rush, the president of the Teachers Association of Norwalk-La Mirada, said that her concern was more about the way Robertson was treated as opposed to just the class change.

“It’s unthinkable that a long-time, highly respected employee of this district would be treated with such disrespect. I am personally outraged,” Rush said.

Rush explained that when Robertson first came to her with the issue she had told Robertson that, although the timing and lack of notice were “inconsiderate and lacked empathy,” the administrator did in fact have the ability to make that change, “according to contract language.” 

Instead Rush suggested that Robertson send an email to her administrator. 

“I did not give any false hope that the decision would be reversed, but was hoping it would make Della feel better to at least share her feelings and explain what her students would be missing and projects they would be unable to complete,” Rush said.

However, Robertson never received a response to her email, subsequent emails, notes or requests to meet until three weeks later, “after the principal was directed to do so.”

“Della was just dismissed—ignored,” Rush said.

Smith could not be reached to comment on the incident. 

District Superintendant Dr. Ruth Perez spoke on the administrations behalf saying that they really do appreciate all of Robertson’s time, but that the topic could not be discussed any further than that. 

“When it comes to talking about personnel and scheduling issues we really can’t discuss any of it,” she said.

In regards to the ‘Barcoding Life’s Matrix Program,’ Perez said that it is not part of the College Board curriculum. She added that if Robertson would like to teach the program after class or outside of school, that offer has been extended to her.

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