Bullets and Knives Found at Otay Elementary School, Parents Question School Leadership

We, as parents, have the right to know when the safety of our children has been jeopardized, and Otay Elementary has failed us in that regard. 

On Friday, August 30, 2019, I showed up at Otay Elementary School for coffee with the principal, fully expecting to discuss the literacy issue we are having where only 48% of students read at grade level.

Instead, I was surprised to see about 50 parents wanting to discuss basic safety and communication. 

From what I gathered, as details were confidential, a child brought a knife to school, and a different child brought bullets to school. Two separate incidents on two seperate days.

It was unclear whether the Principal, Dr. Casitllo, or the Interim Principal, Patricia Roth, made the decision that it was only necessary to inform the parents of 4th, 5th, and 6th graders of the incidents, but it was clear that those of us who have students in the lower grades had no idea these issues were going on.

“I come every day to this school and I didn’t know,” one mom said. 

Were the children sent back to class after they were “caught”? Were their belongings searched to make sure they didn’t have any other weapons?  Was a police report was filed in a timely fashion? Who in the school district was notified? Are the students in question getting proper help? What are we going to do for the other students who are getting stomach aches and headaches at school, fearful for their safety?

The Interim Principal, Patricia Roth, asked us to trust her, and trust that she is handling the situation. She reminded us that she can’t divulge any details, as this is a confidential situation. Thank you Mrs. Roth, but we don’t even know how long you will be a guest at our school. 

It just so happens, that Principal, Dr. Monica Castillo, is on medical leave. Whispers were heard that she was only supposed to be out for a week, but now will be gone for the rest of the quarter. Was this timed? Was she suspended? I don’t know. 

What I do know is that literacy was benched and instead we were talking about “disgusting” bathrooms, toilet paper running out, lack of supervision during lunch time, racial slurs being directed at our children from fellow students and staff, lack of communication, bullying that was never resolved, and budget allocation questions.

Otay Elementary Leadership, there were about 50 parents present. We care, we are here, we are paying attention, we want safety and wellness for our students. You may not be able to solve all the problems in our community, but you can at least let us know that they exist.

What do you think?
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Melissa Cota

Melissa Cota

Melissa Cota is a Freelance Writer and long time education advocate, who has worked as a Reading Coach, Tutor, and High School Teacher. She grew up attending Chula Vista schools including Kellogg Elementary, Castle Park Middle and Castle Park High. She went on to receive a Bachelor's Degree from San Diego State University and now hopes to positively affect the Chula Vista Elementary School District through involved parenting.

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