Dozens of Hiram Johnson students staged a walkout Friday morning to protest myriad issues they say stem from a new administration.
Students say new Principal Felisberto Cedros and his administrative staff were not listening to their concerns about school safety, scheduling issues and cafeteria changes.
Cedros said he met with the estimated 60 to 100 students in a school auditorium after they walked out of second period and stood in a parking lot. He said there were a few genuine concerns, but he labeled others “silly” and based on rumors.
Hiram Johnson, which has struggled academically for years, has been undergoing major changes since Cedros was named principal at the end of the last school year. Over the summer, he clashed with many teachers after he rearranged the school schedule with little input and instituted a teacher dress code.
Teachers also complained that he gave them short notice to clean out their classrooms so the school could undergo a deep cleaning.
Cedros was given free rein by the Sacramento City Unified School District to bring in his own teachers and move existing teachers to other schools. He said most of the problems that his staff complained about over the summer have been addressed.
“There are some who don’t like the changes,” Cedros said. “A majority believe we are doing the right thing for kids.”
Cedros said he was unsure whether teachers contributed to the student walkout, but he appeared to be considering it a possibility.
Associated Student Body member Maria Rodriguez said the message about a student walkout was spread by students through text messages Thursday.
“It was a massive amount of students,” she said.
The ASB did not support the walkout and helped encourage students to go into the auditorium to meet with Cedros and his staff.
Student Maria Elena Rivas said she isn’t satisfied with Cedros’ response to students’ concerns. Rivas, who attended the protest, said the primary issue is school safety.
“Since the beginning of the school year, there have been so many fights,” she said. “Yesterday, there were three.”
Cedros downplayed the severity of school fights. He said there have been four fights in the past two weeks.
“This is very few fights compared to other schools I’ve been at,” he said.
The students also protested the new school schedule, the new nutritious items served in the cafeteria and long lunch lines, which, they said, leave some students with no time to eat.