RIO RANCHO, N.M. (KRQE) – Bullied, belittled, threatened and physically pushed or grabbed by parents. That’s what Rio Rancho Public Schools says is happening to their school employees by parents. The incidents have been over things like masks, vaccines and even school lunches. The school district is taking a stance against this behavior and asking parents to be nicer.
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In a weekly newsletter to Rio Rancho school parents, officials say some parents’ actions are challenging staff, teachers and administrators. They say they want to address people’s complaints and concerns with an open dialog, but in some cases, that’s been difficult to do.
Beth Pendergrass, the Chief Communications Strategy and Engagement Officer, explains “We’re missing that point of that discussion and it’s going straight to bullying and intimidation and even in some cases some physical aggression and so those are things we’re just not going to stand for.”
There are many changes to this school year from long drop-off lines to new COVID-19 protocols. While the district says this is a small minority of parents, they have never seen this much anger before.
District officials say school employees have been yelled at, have received emails and phone calls laced with profanity and the district’s social media pages have been riddled with parents arguing with one another. Leaders understand the frustration that comes with these things but they say everyone should be treating each other with respect.
“We have wonderful parents, who are very supportive who you know but it’s just these incidents this year are greater than we’ve ever seen in history,” says Pendergrass. “I think we’re just really urging families to try and just remember that everyone’s working hard, everyone is experiencing the same struggles and the same challenges.”
There are concerns that students will model the behavior they’re seeing from parents. According to Pendergrass, some of these incidents happen in the open when kids are being dropped off. Leaders say this could even be frightening to students and they want school campuses to remain a safe place for kids.
There could be consequences for parents who do not follow Rio Rancho Public School’s call to action. School leaders have the ability to limit parent access and in extreme cases of aggressive behavior, they can work with the local police departments to issue no trespassing orders.