Danielle Barberis, whose children attend the elementary school at 1280 Dove Drive, created the petition on the Change.org website.
“Andrea Silva made me believe in hell,” Barberis said.
Citing occasions of bullying toward her and her three children, Barberis said she was not alone in her negative experiences with Silva.
Addressing the TUSD board of trustees during their regular meeting Tuesday night, Barberis said, “I am not one parent; I am one parent plus many parents. I will no longer stand back as Andrea Silva abuses her power as an administrator.”
She told the board she wanted an investigation into past and present complaints made to the district regarding Silva.
Petition signer Mariann Stolte, whose two children attend Hirsch, also spoke to the trustees Tuesday.
A former member of the Hirsch Parent/Teacher Organization, Stolte said she had not come into conflict with Silva until she recently questioned the principal about a school activity. Up to that point, she had watched Silva go after almost every member of the PTO board, “challenging every decision that was made, rallying for her causes and fighting anyone who dared question her,” she said.
After questioning a project with Silva, she said, the principal called her and belittled her.
“She screamed at me and told me that ‘You’re not as intelligent as you think you are’ and then slammed the phone down in my ear,” Stolte said. “Needless to say, I was shocked and baffled by her odd, defensive and explosive behavior. I immediately contacted the TUSD and began the process for filing a formal complaint against her.”
One Hirsch parent, Michelle Tostado, said Thursday that the accusations were not justified. She said that in more than six years running drama and cheer clubs and giving art lessons as a volunteer at the school, she had never seen any wrongdoing by Silva.
She described Silva as a by-the-book principal and said the previous principal, Jon Fine, was more relaxed in his administrative ways. She said a lot of teachers support Silva and have expressed their outrage.
“I’ve never seen her mistreat a child, speak down to a teacher. She’s doing her job,” Tostado said. “I feel that there is a lot of small-minded people out there who taint information and pass it along without really knowing what’s going on.”
On Tuesday, Stolte pleaded with district trustees to take into account all past complaints about Silva, formal and informal, and make sure there would be no cause for more in the future.
James Vaughn, president of the school board, said in a telephone interview Wednesday that the district was going to conduct a thorough investigation of the accusations against Silva.
“We do take parents’ input and complaints seriously, and we are following up with the parents who had complaints or concerns,” he said. “In all fairness, I think there has to be an investigation and look into the actual parents’ complaints. Every employee of the district has due process.”
As of Thursday morning, there were 116 signatures on the online petition created by Barberis.
“Time to face accountability,” Barberis said. “Bringing attention of the petition to other people, it’s nice to see that support. I will be sending the board continuous updates on the petition — we’ll keep it active until the goal of Andrea Silva removed is reached. There’s nothing more important than my kid.”
Tostado said she spoke to Silva on Wednesday and informed her that supportive parents wanted to picket outside the school with signs supporting her. She said Silva told her not to do that, because it would “scare the children.”
Silva was made the principal of Hirsch three years ago, according to a district official.
Calls to Silva requesting an interview were not returned.
• Contact Denise Ellen Rizzo at 830-4225 or email@example.com.