The Events Following Kailiponi’s Resignation and Support from a Strong Community
Updated: Dec 11, 2021
The loss of Mark Kailiponi as principal has been mourned on campuses, classrooms, at-home and in meetings. The multitudes with which this issue stands is likely unprecedented for Mayfair. Mr. K being pushed out of Mayfair is not the only injustice in the district; in fact, everyone is starting to see more clearly it's just one of many. The aftermath from the uproar about Mr. K led parents and students to look deeper to see where the problem is really rooted and why this was allowed to happen. In searching, a conclusion was drawn: The BUSD governing board.
On December 8, the day before the board meeting, former governing board member candidate Brad Crihfield, and former board member Hannah Flanagan-Flores hosted a virtual podcast, informing the community of what's been happening with Mr. K and what the agenda items were for the board meeting. They went item by item and discussed the differences between agenda and non-agenda items.
The board meeting on December 9 showcased students, parents, teachers, and community members alike criticizing the board entirely, and demanding change. Agenda item 8.3.3 “Instruction And Student Support” was a particularly hot topic. Speaker and BUSD parent Marla Bruins commented on the matter, sharing, “I think we can do way better with today being an example of that. I know that Mr. K had a relationship with several of the kids potentially involved today. Had he still been in this position that incident may not have occured.” Bruins was referring to the lockdown Mayfair experienced on Thursday, just hours before the meeting. Due to an online school shooting threat, police had to set up a perimeter surrounding the school, leading to a nearly four-hour lockdown. A command post was created to guide students to a local church safely once they were released from classrooms.. The threat was posted to an Instagram page called “MayfairGossipBoy”. Many, like Bruins, believe Mr. K would have had a better handle on the situation than interim principal, Tim Espinosa. The event also highlighted the fact that there are very few administrators on campus, and of the few Mayfair actually has, two are brand new to their positions. During the incident, new Assistant Principal Julie Denmion, who started at Mayfair on December 6, was not present due to being home sick, leaving the Mayfair campus in the hands of only two administrators.
Marla Bruins addressing the Board (Picture by Tiana Poirier)
Another speaker, Mayfair Senior William Silva commented on agenda item 8.3.3, presenting a student-made petition. The petition follows regulations per California Education Code Article 2 General Provisions [35010-35012] Section 35012, stating students may make a petition to appoint a student to become a board member on the BUSD governing board. The requirements include 500 signatures from current students within the district in grades 9-12. The petition cannot be rejected, if completed correctly, and has to go into effect within 60 days of submission. Silva’s speech stated that“the students of BUSD want to ensure that they get the instruction and support they need. We have no faith in the superintendent to provide that, so we want a voice in the matter which we are legally entitled to.” He goes on to present the petition for all students to have a voice. He continued, “We the students of BUSD present you this petition with 891 signatures collected in 5 days in one school.” With 391 student signatures over the required 500, students of BUSD have now begun the process of putting at least two students on the governing board. The action must be fulfilled by February 10, 2022. This will be the first time ever, in the history of BUSD, that students will be on the governing board and be able to cast advisory votes.
William Silva Presenting Student Petition (Picture by Tiana Poirier)
Soon after, a comment by BUSD parent Marissa Perez was made on agenda item 220.127.116.11 – “Revised Budget 2021-2022 Fiscal Year”. “Most recently the district forced the resignation of the experienced administrator Mayfair principal Mr. K over a $50,000 alumni donation to renovate a 20-year-old outdated and unsafe student athlete weight room,” she explained. “That was questionable, and particularly worse on a day like today when Mayfair’s 2,800 students had to go on a lockdown for several hours with the interim principal.” She continued to ask the board members to evaluate Superintendent Tracy McSparren for not handling the situation better.
Marissa Perez addressing the Board (Picture by Tiana Poirier)
Many individuals that attended this board meeting cheered as newly-appointed Clerk Mayra Garza asked many questions on agenda items regarding the disbursement of district and site funds.They also cheered for board member Richard Downing as he stated his support for Mr.K, saying that while Mr. K may have made an error in judgment, his actions did not warrant forced resignation. . He was unable to state this at the board’s November meeting because he was vacationing out of the country. .
Additionally, there was applause from the community while discussing agenda item 18.104.22.168 – “Ratification of Donation from Mayfair High Football Boosters To Bellflower Unified School District”. Every board member voted in favor of this item except for Dr. Sue ElHessen.
Most of all, the community recognized Dr. ElHessen when she suggested changing the regulation on agenda item 9.1.3 – “Donation Policies and Regulations”, sharing, “I’d like for the board to re-look at what we have stated in regards to the donation policy regulation…which basically states that its [donations] at the superintendent’s discretion to oversee where that donation or money will be sent, I'd like that to be changed to state that any donation made to any particular site would stay at that site.” Directly after, board member Downing agreed and soon after so did the rest of the board. Newly-appointed board President Renita Armstrong then announced that the policy will be re-written, and Superintendent McSparren confirmed the first read of the revised version will be presented next month.
The board moved onto non-agenda items where 11 people filled out cards to speak. However, the board stated they would grant 21 minutes, limiting the amount of speakers to 7 people with 3 minutes each. The first to speak was Annette Ahumada, in which she said, “We want to build students' futures, not yours [Tracy McSparren]. We want Mr. K back as principal of Mayfair High School and we want Tracy McSparren out.” Another speaker came to the podium, Sylvester Ani Jr., who is running for Congress. He stated that he works within the ABC Unified and has an outside perspective of the situation with Mr. K. “If there's one thing I know about this district, its that everybody loves Mr. K,” he shared. He continued by advising the audience by saying t, “A wise person once told me ‘I am who I am because somebody loved me’ and what I see, kids, students, parents show up for somebody the way that these parents, students and teachers are showing up for somebody, that's love.” Recently retired college and career adviser and CAL APS educator at Mayfair for 16 years, Cindy Bowens approached as well stating, “It feels like nobody cares” and pointed out that during her career at Mayfair, she went through 9 principles. Austin Lynch, a parent to two Mayfair students, presented the board with two petitions, one with 2,200 signatures signed within a couple days to bring Mr. K back, and the other, just over 1,000 signatures in a short time asking Superintendent Tracy McSparren to resign. Along with stating he'd like to request the addition of an agenda item for next month’s board meeting to focus on bringing Mr. K back, he said, “What your voters want is for you to bring Mr. K back.”
Annette Ahumada addressing the Board (Picture by Tiana Poirier)
Sylvester Ani Jr. addressing the Board (Picture by Tiana Poirier)
Cindy Bowens addressing the Board (Picture by Tiana Poirier)
Austin Lynch addressing the Board (Picture by Tiana Poirier)