CALIFORNIA — The newspaper adviser at West Covina High Schoolwill keep his job after all.
Over the summer, principal Alex Ruvalcaba planned to replaceNewsbytes adviser Ted Moser with Lisa Maggiore, which upset students andhigh school alumni. Last month, the school board asked Ruvalcaba to reconsider.
In what Ruvalcaba described as a strange set of circumstances, the dean ofstudent services at WCHS took a new job at a different school, which left astaff opening. Ruvalcaba appointed Maggiore to the dean position and Moser wentback to being Newsbytes adviser.
Ruvalcaba told the SPLC in June thatMaggiore, who advised the middle school yearbook, asked for theposition.
However, Maggiore said while she did request to transfer to the highschool, she never asked for the adviser position and it was never used as anincentive for her to come.
Student editors questioned the timing of the decision, because it cameafter the paper published controversial comments by the districtsuperintendent.
Concerned students created a Facebook group, handed out fliers and hadcommunity members write to the board of education. This culminated with thestudents protesting the staffing change at a school board meeting Aug. 10.
Victor Valle, Newsbytes editor in chief, said he and his fellowstudents entered the board meeting with an all-or-nothing mentality, ready togive their speeches about why Moser should keep his job.
After hearing the students’ remarks, the board voted 3-2 to ask Ruvalcabato reconsider his staffing changes.
“I felt that all we worked for came together and made adifference,” Valle said. “The students run and produce the paper,but [Moser] is the heart and soul of it.”
Steve Cox, school board vice president, said the students were articulateand persuasive and were able to present their opinions clearly.
“The board members felt we needed to address the reasons andrationale for making that decision,” Cox said, adding Ruvalcaba’sreasoning didn’t seem to be sufficient enough. “We agreed he was anoutstanding teacher.”
Board members Jessica Shewmaker and Camie Poulos votedagainst the proposal.
Although the school’s new dean vacancy madeRuvalcaba’s final decision easier, it was not the sole reason Maggiore waschosen.
“Mr. Ruvalacaba told me I was a candidate regardless of what wasgoing on,” Maggiore said. “This was not a decision that was madebecause it was convenient.”
Moser said the initial shock after hearing he would be replaced soon turnedinto motivation. When he heard his students speak at the final school boardmeeting, Moser said he felt humbled.
“I was really impressed,” he said. “I get to see the good work they doeveryday so I’m used to it. I was glad the school board members could see thattoo.”
Moser said he was happy with the outcome because this situation representsthe way democracy is supposed to work — community members speak to theirelected officials and the elected officials listen.
After learning he would return as newspaper, adviser Moser said he felt asense of well-being.
“Things were getting back to the way they were supposed to be,” hesaid.
Ruvalcaba said he did not hold it against the students for going to theboard of education.
“It’s their right to do that,” he said. “My goal isto provide positive role models. These students were invested in the program andthe teacher, and that’s what we want.”