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Lathrop Elementary parents petition to keep school principal
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The uproar over a Manteca Unified principal swap only grew louder over the weekend after parents at Lathrop Elementary school launched a formal petition campaign to keep David Silveira at the school he has helmed for the last 14 years. 

While word of the transfer of Silveira to Brock Elliott Elementary and the subsequent shuffle of Debbie Ruger to Lathrop Elementary School was circulating in the community by the middle of last week, Silveira formally announced the move on the school’s Facebook page Friday morning. 

So far, representatives from the Parent Teacher Committee and the English Learner Advisory Committee have garnered more than 250 signatures that they’re planning on presenting to the district on Thursday, with further plans to attend the next meeting of the Manteca Unified Board of Education next month to share their concerns.

“We just love the way he actually works with the kids – he’s never in his office, but out on the campus making sure that everything is going well,” said parent Grisel Sanchez. “He’s really good at working with the teachers and the parents, but he’s great working with the kids and that’s what I think most people are concerned about.”

According to Sanchez, students came back to school at the start of this year only to discover that the school’s longtime vice principal had been moved without, she claims, the notification of the parents. The move, she said, disrupted the culture of an already close-knit school community, and she fears that the same will happen if Silveira were to move schools. 

In a statement released last week by Dr. Cheryl Meeker-Mau, Manteca Unified’s Senior Director of Elementary Education, the transfer was characterized as routine and was being planned as a way to benefit both of the schools that are involved. Such moves, the statement read, were based on student need, and the district believed that both teachers would be able to make impacts to their respective communities.

The parents, however, remain concerned about making such a change just as Lathrop Elementary is returning to Title 1 status – a designation for school sites with large concentrations of low-income students that qualify for special federal funding to meet the needs of those respective students. 

“Thanks to Mr. Silveira’s leadership, Lathrop Elementary had a supportive environment that encourages the collaboration of all members of our school community,” read the letter that the group has been circulating on social media. “With our site returning to Title I status next year, we need Mr. Silveira’s experience and expertise to help with the transition. 

“He not only knows the needs of our bilingual and at-risk learners, but cares deeply about all students’ progress. Having him sent to a different school at this critical time for Lathrop would be a mistake.”

In the same letter, the group stresses that while they don’t hold any animus for Debbie Ruger, they would rather ensure that the longtime principal stay where he is for the time being.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.