Drugs weren’t on the agenda for the Dec. 9 meeting of the Rio Rancho Public Schools Board of Education, but the topic came up twice.
There was only one speaker in the public-comment session, Jennifer Trujillo, who had several things on her mind. The first thing was what she termed “rude” behavior by Cleveland High Principal Scott Affentranger, whom she said had “disrespected and ignored” her.
As for the second thing, Trujillo told board members her daughter had witnessed a girl ingesting cocaine in the physical education locker room. There, Trujillo claimed, the girls were “unsupervised,” which she found “unacceptable.”
After Trujillo’s three-minute address, Mike Baker, the district’s chief operations officer, spoke with her outside the meeting room for about 10 minutes.
Yes, Baker told the Observer, Trujillo’s concerns were plausible.
“There are drugs in the schools,” Baker said, although there was no way of confirming if the ingested substance had actually been cocaine.
The second mention of drugs in the schools came during Executive Director Sal Maniaci’s report on the district’s Safety & Security Department, in which he noted the increased seizures of eCigs containing THC.
From August through November 2018, Maniaci said, 154 eCigs with THC had been confiscated, while 190 eCigs had been seized this year during the same time frame. He mentioned at least one eCig had methamphetamine residue in it.
“It’s going up and it needs to be addressed,” he said, adding that his department is working to come up with a way students can anonymously report what they’re seeing.
During his report, Maniaci also updated the board members on the recently installed gunshot-detection systems at Cleveland and Rio Rancho high schools, as well as installation of the systems at under-construction Joe Harris Elementary and Shining Stars Preschool. He said his department is fully staffed and there’s a renewed effort to develop relationships between students and security officers.
Beth Pendergrass, executive director of the district’s Communications, Strategy and Engagement Department, gave an update on her department’s newest hires and what’s being done to keep the community knowledgeable about what’s going on in the schools.
Looking ahead to the New Year, Pendergrass said a communication plan is being developed and open houses will be scheduled to get input from the public on the new boundary changes, primarily affecting Maggie Cordova and Martin Luther King Jr. elementary schools in light of Joe Harris Elementary opening for the 2020-21 school year.
“(Your department) puts out a really good picture of what our district is all about,” Superintendent Sue Cleveland said.
In other board matters:
• Theodore “Lee” Roberts and Paula Trujillo were recognized for their decades-long work in social services, which included the combined training of more than 2,000 staff members; and
• Board members gave the required first reading for the majority of the 200 series of policies, dealing with the board itself. The new board members — Jeffery Morgan, Amanda Galbraith and Noreen Scott — were in the audience, knowing they’ll be on-board for the second reading of each policy prior to approval.
The board’s next meeting is Monday, Dec. 16, at 5:30, when outgoing board members Katherine Covey, Ryan Parra and Ramon Montaño will be recognized for their service.