CHS Advocates for Walker at Board Meeting

CHS Advocates for Walker at Board Meeting

On March 21, Cerritos students, teachers, and parents attended the District Board meeting to criticize the announcement of the planned involuntary transfer of Cerritos High School Principal Patrick Walker and four other administrative staff.
After general board presentations and discussions, the board opened the room to public comments, which lasted over two and a half hours. Many CHS attendees used the time to speak about the involuntary transfer of a major portion of the CHS administration.

A common argument amongst CHS staff was the absence of transparency, the change of administration for the sake of change, and the lack of voice in the administration-transferring process. The first comment, from teacher Holly Matchett, caused the audience to erupt in support as she bombarded many specific board members, especially interim superintendent Toan Nguyen, “Did you [Nguyen] really think we would take this [the administrative transfer] without questioning your motive?” Much of Matchett’s comment pointing out the many awards and accomplishments that Walker’s administration had brought to CHS. 

A particular incident occurred where Matchett exceeded her allotted speaking time of five minutes, and Vice President Sophia Tse threatened to call security. Three volunteers subsequently offered Matchett their time, thereby allowing her to continue by addressing the March 2022 shooting threat incidents, which Walker was criticized for concerning his administration’s reaction, and how the District Board was unhelpful in the entire situation. 

CAPTION: A Board member threatens to call up security after Holly Matchett exceeds her speaking time.

Jonathan Watanabe, and later Jason Watanabe (both CHS teachers and coaches), were also seen at the meeting wearing t-shirts displaying “WE ♥ WALKER.” They spoke of the energy that Walker brought into the school administration and student body.

David Hind, an English teacher, provided a concession to the Board, admitting that teachers and staff could not “demand the right to just choose [their] administrators.” But he pointed out that unlike in the past, the “expertise and understanding” of their respective schools were “not tapped into,” and warned that “taking such extreme actions without collaboration makes staff members feel devalued and damages this relationship. It makes people feel that they are not really partners.” His comment underlined the current tense relationship between the District Board and school staff. 


CAPTION: CHS English teacher David Hind speaks in front of the Board.

Multiple CHS students also spoke at the meeting, where they complimented the efforts of Principal Walker and his administration, and how they felt that he genuinely made them feel included and a part of the CHS community. Senior Amia Dauis stated that from her experience as Executive Vice President of ASB and a member of various clubs such as MUN, she witnessed “[…] firsthand the dedicated involvement of not just Mr. Walker, but of every single administration member at Cerritos,” adding how Walker made students feel welcomed and inclusive throughout the principal’s nine years of service. Another student, senior Susana Maestos, criticized an after-the-fact survey sent out to transfer-affected schools, and described it as insulting and manipulative for including generic questions and not actually addressing the issue about the transfer.
CHS parents spoke about how they did not feel included in this decision, as well as how they were worried about the negative consequences this would have on the educational experience of their children. Some parents conceded that Principal Walker was not perfect, however, maintained that they wanted him to stay at Cerritos. Slyvester Annie, a parent, commented, “Mr. Walker isn’t a perfect man. But they love this man, with all his imperfections.” He continued by saying that “people don’t need an earthquake right now, they need stability.”

Students and parents from other schools also affected by the transfer spoke in support of their own principals and staff. Aside from one CHS parent who commended the Board for their decision, there was a common consensus amongst most people from throughout the district that this transfer was not done transparently nor done with the input of the ABCUSD community.

After the public comments, Board Trustee Soo Yoo said that the Board members received “a beating” from the public, but that such comments were “music” to their ears. She also applauded the “greatest spirit of Cerritos family” and recognized that Principal Walker was very loved by his school, and told the public that their comments would not be cast aside by the Board.