A Facebook post by Socorro’s Superintendent Ron Hendrix came under scrutiny during a special school board meeting conducted Monday night among parents, educators as well as individuals from as far away as Albuquerque. He claims the post was not his words but rather a meme he shared on Friday, August 7.
A closed session with the superintendent, which lasted more than an hour, addressed the following post on his personal Facebook page:
“Let's divide into two camps:
Camp 1: Stay home and avoid travel. Keep your kids home from school. Wear fashionable cloth masks. Refuse Hydroxychloroquine if you get sick. Take the rushed coronavirus vaccine.
“Camp 2: Go out and enjoy life. Send your kids to school. Respect personal space and practice good hygiene. Take Hydroxychloroquine if you get the virus and become symptomatic. Refuse the rushed coronavirus vaccine.
No arguing. No insulting.
Let's do it and see who was following real science and who was following political science.
I choose camp 2.
You can choose camp 2 if you disagree.”
Hendrix said “It absolutely nothing to do with my schools," and assured El Defensor Chieftain that he was simply trying to begin a discussion.
During the Monday meeting at least two individuals initially called for Hendrix to resign, and another individual seconded that opinion.
“I love that she brought up that Mr. Hendrix should be removed from his position,” she said. “I would like to add that I spoke to a judge, and she said it's within our rights as parents to keep our children safe at home, while also being able to access remote learning from home. So Mr. Hendrix can puff away all he wants. I will not budge on sending my children to school before there is a vaccine made for the coronavirus.”
Mandy Durkin said she was in a little bit of disagreement.
“While I appreciate the fact that we need to be very conscious in sending our kids back to school, we were a family that was prepared to send our kids back to school … We felt very safe sending our kids back to school,” she said. “While it might have been divisive in the way it was sent out, I still think we need to protect his (Hendrix's) First Amendment rights. It was on his Facebook page. It was not on the school's page.”
Durkin said while Hendrix needs to be more careful about what he puts on Facebook, she does not think he should be terminated over the particular issue.
Many people chimed in via Google Meet messenger.
Bonnie Hoke said via messenger that “I do not agree with Ron's statement, but I do not think he should be terminated.”
Amanda Rottman, also via messenger thanked the board for what she said is a well thought-out plan.
“Your safety plans have been given to parents and students and I feel that you were more than prepared,” she typed. “I work with several districts across the state and Socorro schools have done a lot to prepare. Thank you.”
Socorro High School Athletic Director Alex Johnson seemed to agree.
“I second what Amanda Rottman said,” Johnson wrote via messenger. “I believe if you come and visit our schools you will see that measures and precautions are absolutely being implemented and followed and teachers are supported as much as possible during such a difficult time.”
The board went into executive session for more than 60 minutes, and while that session is protected by the Open Meetings Act Hendrix said outside of executive session the board had congratulated him on getting buildings ready and prepared, and congratulated Hendrix and his team.
Item IX on the board's agenda was relevant to COVID-19 safety measures, and Hendrix said “All of the safety equipment that we ordered has been set for the individual student dividers, which we don't need yet. We've got hand sanitizer, we've got the temperature reading stations, we've got the individual dividers.”
Hendrix told the board that as far as technology goes the district has ordered Chrome Books and Kindle Fires for the teachers and the students. He said some of the Chrome Books Still haven't come in yet, but that Socorro ordered theirs early enough to beat the rush.
“There are some districts that didn't order them on time, so they haven't gotten any yet,” Hendrix said.
New Mexico Tech also donated 60 gallons of hand sanitizer, and the district had 400 youth face shields, another 100 for adults and 24 for teachers because they would be more comfortable for them.
“The reason we ordered the face shields is because we feel like it would be very important for the younger students to see the teachers' faces,” Hendrix told the board. “Students learn by watching the teacher’s mouth, so we felt like that was very important to them."
Hendrix said the district has 23 sanitizer dispenser stations and 10,000 disposable masks.
The school also bought 150 gallons of sanitizer on its own.
He said the school also bought shield pods for teachers.
“Those are for those who consider themselves high risk,” Hendrix told the board. “This was not required, but we wanted to make sure our teachers who were at high risk were taken care of."
He also said the schools have boxes of gloves for students who want them.
“We've tried to be as judicious as possible with the CARES Act money because we knew it may not have stood the test after this special legislature and we were correct in that,” Hendrix said. “So we still do have some of it to spend. We're trying to use that as carefully as possible.”