Parents and students at Walter Bracken STEAM Academy rallied outside the school Friday morning to draw attention to what they describe as bullying of teachers by the new principal.
Bracken parents first raised concerns about Principal Stanica Sretenovic in December, claiming at a Clark County School Board meeting that Sretenovic had made sweeping changes to popular school programs like counseling and hot lunch since taking the job in August.
Since then, said Diana Ramirez, a member of the Bracken school organizational team (SOT), teachers have faced retaliation for meeting with or talking to the parent group, including written reprimands accusing them of sabotaging school operations.
Ramirez said the parent group has written letters to Gov. Steve Sisolak about the situation and will pursue all avenues to find a solution. Though Sretenovic offered the parents a meeting this week, Ramirez said she chose not to attend because previous meetings have not yielded results.
“It’s too late,” Ramirez said.
Sretenovic has not returned requests for comment from the Review-Journal. But a district spokesman said CCSD is aware of the situation and will convene a task force comprised of parent, staff, community members and school administration to address the concerns.
The tension between parents and administration at the magnet school mirrors a recent situation at Clark High, where parents raised concerns about Principal Antonio Rael, who they said had also made unpopular changes to the school. In that case, Rael was ousted in a matter of days, with new leadership announced for the school this week.
‘No bullies allowed’
The morning rally at Bracken drew a group of about two dozen parents and their elementary-aged children, who chanted “no bullies allowed” as the group marched up and down a sidewalk. A second rally after school attracted a crowd of about 50.
Parent Shuuanndy Alvarez, rallying in the morning with her children, husband and father-in-law, said parents fear that longtime Bracken teachers will leave the school because of what she called intimidation of staff members.
Alvarez said among the changes Sretenovic has made to the school, she in particular feels the loss of a counseling program that would have benefited her son, who is dealing with trauma from his adoption.
She recalled that when she met Sretenovic for the first time, the new principal was not empathetic to her son’s situation.
“If that’s how they’re treating us parents, I can’t imagine how they’re treating teachers behind closed doors,” Alvarez said.
Not all parents agree about the right course of action. Gregory Brown, who was initially supportive of the parent group but changed his mind after meeting with Sretenovic, said the rally outside the school was disappointing.
“I do not think it appropriate to try to involve the children in what amounts to a school personnel matter, and I personally feel the appropriate role for adults who have disagreements is to discuss them in the manner we hope to teach our children to resolve disputes,” Brown said.