At Havasupai school in Grand Canyon, fired teacher paints a pattern of neglect - AZEdNews
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At Havasupai school in Grand Canyon, fired teacher paints a pattern of neglect

The school that was always desperate for teachers finally had one, and it needed her to start right away.
It was March 2016. The school year was almost over, and Havasupai Elementary School still didn’t have a full staff. So as soon as Mary Beth Burke reached her apartment at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, Acting Principal Coleen Maldonado brought Burke a list of her new students. The two women sat at a table surrounded by unopened suitcases. Burke watched Maldonado scribble notes next to students’ names. An eighth-grade girl, Maldonado wrote, was “very smart.” She warned that another eighth-grader was manipulative. But Maldonado focused on the name of a seventh-grade boy who had fallen hopelessly behind. She scribbled one word: “Lawsuit.” Stay away from the mother, Burke recalled Maldonado saying. Try to avoid the student. Like many students at Havasupai Elementary, the boy had been promised help that never came. His test scores ranked in the first percentile nationwide. ADHD and a learning disability made studies almost impossible. The school had ignored his mother’s pleas for help, so she had contacted a lawyer. Now Maldonado suggested Burke ignore one of her new students. Burke silently rejected the principal’s warning. In the classroom, she would work around the boy’s learning disabilities, slowly becoming the first teacher he liked.