RIPON – For the past eight years, a representative from Central Catholic High has been on hand at Colony Oak School’s annual awards assembly.
That came as a surprise to Ripon Unified Superintendent Louise Johnson, who, along with school board member Ernie Tyhurst, received complaints from Colony Oak officials that the Modesto-based parochial school is using the year-end event by presenting scholarships to a few select eighth-grade students while promoting the school’s programs.
“This is not only unprofessional but it’s also unethical,” Tyhurst said at Monday’s school board meeting.
He added, “We have a private school in town that doesn’t (recruit) on our campuses. I know we don’t go on other campuses to promote JROTC or our ag programs.”
Trustees had considered sending a letter addressed to Central Catholic officials regarding recruiting activity on RUSD campuses but thought otherwise.
Johnson, for one, had mixed feelings, indicating that sending such a letter might draw undue attention on the issue. “In the past, when confronted with a similar situation (from another Modesto program), I merely placed a call to the superintendent to tell him no and to tell his staff to cease such behavior,” she said.
Earlier, Johnson mentioned that she did contact Principal Melissa Bengtson to discuss the matter.
Central Catholic, Johnson was told, collects students from throughout the valley with scholarship offers. She’ll ask the school, on direction from the board, to refrain from the practice.
Ripon Elementary also received an e-mail from Central Catholic requesting to attend the awards assembly held on the same night as Colony Oak.
“Unfortunately, the principal cannot locate the e-mail so we do not know who sent it,” she said.
Board President Mike Fisher was also surprised about the recruiting taking place on RUSD campuses.
“I thought it was rumor,” he said. “This was news to me knowing that this was going on (with Central Catholic) for the past eight years – this is unacceptable and crosses the line.”
Trustee Kit Oase agreed. “Now, we can move forward but with an eye out (on future recruiters),” he said.