A district divided: Racial, religious tensions stir up turmoil at Central Consolidated School District in New Mexico
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The Central Consolidated School District still is waiting for resolution from the state Public Education Department regarding the possible discipline of its acting superintendent and a proposed split that would divide the 3,000-square-mile district along the reservation line.
But to many, the division already has occurred.
The district, part of the public school system since 1931, already is severed along lines of race and religion, not to mention opinions about political control, curriculum, personnel, money and the teachers union.
To some, actions within the district since May have permanently fractured an already vulnerable community. To others, the radical changes signal a sign of better times ahead.
Regardless of the outcome, the district’s players, along with state and legal representatives, have a long road ahead.
A deadlock between the two cultures is at least partly to blame for the political climate in the district since May, when the board and administrators began making drastic changes in personnel, policies and facilities.
At the root of much of that clash is a belief that Anglo Mormons long have dominated the district and held onto the purse strings.
Of the district’s 16 principals, none are Mormon; of its top 14 administrators prior to May — superintendent, assistant superintendents and directors — three were Anglo Mormon and one was Navajo Mormon.
Of the district’s top 30 positions prior to May, Anglo Mormons held only three, or 10 percent.
The district long has been criticized for not only being administration-heavy, but also heavy in top positions filled by Anglos and Mormons. The district boasts a 90-percent Navajo student population, but supports a much smaller number of top administrators who are Navajo or another minority.
Read it all to get a sense of the can of worms they are dealing with.