Parents demand Hirsch principal’s ouster
by Denise Ellen Rizzo
Mar 14, 2014 | 15358 views | 45 45 comments | 78 78 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Hirsch School students and parents walk home along Dove Drive after school Tuesday. An online petition has been started to have Principal Andrea Silva removed from the school.  Glenn Moore/Tracy Press
Hirsch School students and parents walk home along Dove Drive after school Tuesday. An online petition has been started to have Principal Andrea Silva removed from the school. Glenn Moore/Tracy Press
slideshow
Hirsch School students wait to be picked up after school Tuesday. An online petition has been started to have Principal Andrea Silva removed from the school.  Glenn Moore/Tracy Press
Hirsch School students wait to be picked up after school Tuesday. An online petition has been started to have Principal Andrea Silva removed from the school. Glenn Moore/Tracy Press
slideshow
A parent-driven petition is circulating online asking Tracy Unified School District officials to remove Andrea Silva as principal of Hirsch Elementary School.

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 drizzo@tracypress.com.

 
Comments
(45)
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Kdowell
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March 18, 2014
I am normally very unpolitical. Respectful that others do not think like me and I do not wish to persuade you to. That would be a very boring place to be. I do however see this article and some who have left comments as decisive, hurtful and even threatening. This is an elementary school- a place that should be safe and free from political stances so that our children can concentrate on learning, playing and feeling good about themselves. Is it perfect, no. After all we are human and it's our nature to be human. There are forums to address concerns if you feel the need to, as I have myself done. We have volunteers who are working with your children on their time- with their supplies, supporting our children who are thinking of leaving because how horrible this has become. Please if you need to have your issues addressed - do so and be persistent with the process. It is often from the lowest of low's that we can start to rebuild to greatness but if another keeps tearing the repair process down - it will scar the school, children, teachers, staff & volunteers of this place. We don't need to agree or even like each other, but we do need to work together for everyone's sake.
sensiblestudent
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March 18, 2014
of a situation like this? I can relate, though because I, myself have experienced awful and degrading verbal abuse at the high school level from a teacher I had the misfortune of enduring for two years. I know the severity of what it can do to children on physical and emotional levels, and I know the great task it is to even have your voice heard by the district. My situation was never addressed or considered and I genuinely hope that this situation is resolved for the sake of your kids, and lets be real, your sanity.

That being said, I really want to use this space to defend Mrs. Rodrigues. Reading these unrelenting, negative, and downright insensitive comments about one of the sweetest ladies I have had the pleasure of knowing just guts me. Mrs. Rodrigues is a passionate, benevolent teacher and takes great stride to harbor the education of children. I have been in her classroom, observed her teaching, and have never once witnessed any behavior close to volatile or abusive. Rather, she was attentive and very much concerned about the individual needs of her students. I have spoken with her outside of her classroom and conversed with her about just how much she enjoys her job
sensiblestudent
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March 18, 2014
I came across this article via Facebook the day it was published and it genuinely saddened me to see the degeneration of what I remember to be a wonderful school and school district. I didn't feel connected enough to the issue to leave a comment but when I brought up the article to share with my Mother today and read the comments regarding Mrs. Rodrigues I felt obligated to speak up. Before I proceed, I'm going to solidify my agency to comment on this matter because based on what I have read in this thread, the abhorrent behavior and degradation of others is far too rampant and I really just want to voice an opinion without being fired back at.

I'm a prior Hirsch student and spent every single one of my primary and secondary education years within the TUSD system. I’m now a junior Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma Wa, and double major in Communication Conflict and Peace Building and English Literature. It’s true I’m still relatively young, and without children and realize that by divulging that I’m young potentially gives all of the mothers in question ammunition against what I have to say, because how can somebody without children really understand the plight
sensiblestudent
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March 18, 2014
and providing an environment that promotes learning. As a mother herself, I know that Mrs. Rodrigues wouldn’t commit any of the abusive atrocities that have been suggested in prior comments and also know that she strongly opposes any sort of violent or abusive behavior in both physical and mental realms.

PLEASE do not counter this with anything along the lines of “she was putting on a façade or veiling her true identity” while I was in her classroom and don’t even try to submit that she or anyone else put me up to writing this because that isn’t the case whatsoever.

I’m far from anonymous as far as this post is concerned and will be leaving my email below in the event that anybody feels urgency to discuss my experiences with her by way of a more private platform.

Thanks to everybody participating in this thread respectfully,

murphyja@plu.edu

CarpenterNewton
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March 18, 2014
Very well-written. You may be young, but you have presented yourself in a much more respectable manner than others who have commented previously. Bravo.
myboysrock
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March 18, 2014
I agree with CarpenterNewton, very well said. My boys never had her as a teacher but she was always pleasant, cheerful, and professional while running the yearly talent show. Something she did on her own every year, on her own time. No extra pay. But I stand by my comments below. Just becasue I haven't seen any wrong doing, doesn't mean it hasn't happened. I have never witnessed any wrong doing with Mrs. Rodrigues, but I HAVE witnessed Mrs. Silva not acting like a Principal should. And that is what this petition is all about. Removing a lady who clearly should not hold the position she does. Ask yourself this...If this happened before, Mrs. Silva leaving her old Principal job is the same manner as what is happening now and if your child was at this school, wouldn't you rather be safe than sorry, especially if it is at the expense of innocent children?
BeenThereMyself
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March 17, 2014
FYI....TUSD will respond to your complaints and I predict their conclusion will be "We have conducted a thorough investigation and appropriate actions have been taken." As that, unfortunately, is the exact response ALWAYS given, regardless of the circumstances.
Speaking_Out
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March 17, 2014
The parents, teachers, staff & community that are in support of action, each have their own individual reasons for signing the petition. They are not small-minded, helicopter parents who are on a witch hunt. I for one am taking a stand because I refuse to be talked down to, belittled, disregarded, disrespected & lied to. My issues are with Andrea Silva & no one else. My complaints were filed with the district on several occasions, nothing was done, my complaints fell on deaf ears. It wasn't until the petition was started that the district picked up complaints that were filed over 6 months ago & began a real investigation. In my opinion, the district failing to take action when the complaints started coming in, is the reason this has grown to the extent that it has. If the parents were to have been honestly heard with the countless complaints over the past 3 years it wouldn't have snowballed into what it has become today. I have found my voice & I am speaking out against the wrongs that happened to ME, that doesn't mean that I am small-minded. It doesn't mean that I am a helicopter parent or that I am on a witch hunt. It means that I respect myself enough to say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!
Speaking_Out
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March 17, 2014
The parents, teachers, staff & community that are in support of action, each have their own individual reasons for signing the petition. They are not small-minded, helicopter parents who are on a witch hunt. I for one am taking a stand because I refuse to be talked down to, belittled, disregarded, disrespected & lied to. My issues are with Andrea Silva & no one else. My complaints were filed with the district on several occasions, nothing was done, my complaints fell on deaf ears. It wasn't until the petition was started that the district picked up complaints that were filed over 6 months ago & began a real investigation. In my opinion, the district failing to take action when the complaints started coming in, is the reason this has grown to the extent that it has. If the parents were to have been honestly heard with the countless complaints over the past 3 years it wouldn't have snowballed into what it has become today. I have found my voice & I am speaking out against the wrongs that happened to ME, that doesn't mean that I am small-minded. It doesn't mean that I am a helicopter parent or that I am on a witch hunt. It means that I respect myself enough to say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!
The_Avenger
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March 16, 2014
I just want to voice a secondary opinion to those who are actually watching this thread. I was linked this article by someone who supports the issues mentioned in this article. However, when I see misplaced negativity and hostility, I have to speak up.

We live in an age where our children's primary issues during their school years spur from cyber bullying, and here, we find a group of parents participating in the same actions they surely condemn when it comes to their own children. I live by the idea that you shouldn't say anything anonymously that you wouldn't say to that person face to face, because if it really as the truth, then you would have no issue speaking it to them. You cannot claim your statements to be true as you freely compare someone to "the gestappo". I mean, come on, the Nazi party? Let's use some rational when supporting our arguments. If you truly find issue with someone, then have their classroom observed rather than participating in internet gossip.

If we want to be adults, we all need to act like adults and actually be the good people and the heroes our children deserve to think we are.
Speaking_Out
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March 17, 2014
The_Avenger, your opinion is welcomed, as is all opinions both opposed and supporting.

I just wanted to take a moment to correct somethings you have stated. 1) You have assumed that some parents have been irrational and are just ranting gossip and not taking legitimate logical action. Did you know that parents have requested classroom observations, they were denied. Parents have contacted the district to file a complaint, they went unheard. 2) You have implied that the parents filing complaints are not behaving as adults nor acting as the good people and heroes our children deserve, you have lumped all of the people speaking out into one box. Who are you to judge people you don't even know? Who are you to question the core of who they are? So because we have witnessed and been on the receiving end of Andrea Silva and her treatment of others and chose to speak out in hopes to end it, that makes us immature, bad people that aren't heroes for our children?

The_Avenger, I'd like to ask you, if you had a problem that no one would hear, that no one would investigate, that no one cared about. An issue that required you to be that hero for your child, wouldn't you make every effort you could to make sure you were heard? Wouldn't you fight for your child's rights? I want to let you know The_Avenger, even though you have taken to this forum to bad mouth us parents taking a stand, I would listen to you if you needed help, I would want your voice to be heard too. I would want you to feel safe enough to speak out against something you were dealing with. I wouldn't want someone to squash your right to speech, your right to fight for what you believe in. We all deserve that same respect. We should never feel like we can not speak out.

The_Avenger
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March 17, 2014
Common sense is clearly not present here.
The_Avenger
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March 16, 2014
Wow. It is unfortunate how poorly moderated this "news" website is.

There are two comments by 2 "different" screen names (different is in quotes because both comments are written grammatically identically and clearly authored by the same individual) not only naming a teacher who has nothing to do with this article by name, but also divulging deeply personal information about her to a public online forum. This individual, who clearly is part of the new school helicopter parenting mentality of misplacing blame should feel deeply ashamed of their immature, and illegal (I believe that is called libel) actions.

The anonymity and lack of personal accountability that the internet provides is certainly reflected in the comments of this article. I, as a life long resident of Tracy, hope the Tracy Press steps up and properly moderates these comments before allowing these sort of witch hunts to be run on their website.
TracyMomto2
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March 16, 2014
I did not mean to attack previously mentioned teacher. I'm sorry if I upset you. My point was that tusd needs to get more involved in investigations. Children should not be coming to school and bullied by adults! They have enough to deal with from peers. Teachers and principals should be a safe person to go to not someone to fear or run from! The school district needs to take a more active role and responsibility in Hirsch's current condition.

I thank the Tracy Press for bringing this to the public, clearly it needed attention. As a mother who doesn't go to the school to chat or gossip with others I had no idea this was going on. I hope Tracy Press follows up. Maybe tusd will feel pressure to do something.
D&CBarberis
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March 17, 2014
Your attacking behavior is not appreciated. We respect all sides, those who support and those who oppose. EVERYONE is RESPECTFULLY entitled to their own opinion. There is no need for the continued insults.

With Much Respect,

A Member of Wanda Hirsch Community

www.change.org/users/hirsch

Every Individual Signature Counts!

Please continue to share the Petition Link!
Ornley_Gumfudgen
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March 17, 2014
"The anonymity and lack of personal accountability that the internet provides is certainly reflected in the comments of this article."

Th amusin thang is that ya got th audacity ta post this under th anonymous name of "The_Avenger."

If yer gonna complain about people postin on this site anonymously don't stupidly do it yerself.

Perhaps th one th press should be moderatin is you.

The_Avenger
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March 17, 2014
It seems like you're against this principle because someone told you "no" for once in your lives.

How many screen names did you go through the trouble of making for this site? 3? 4? Half of these posts are clearly written by the same individual. The grammatical tendencies and vernacular are all exactly the same.
pso17
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March 16, 2014
If you didn't show up for the explanation of Common Core at Wanda Hirsch this past Friday you are in for a rude awakening. Take the practice test here provided at this website. You do not have to submit any info just click the sign in button. Tell yourself, how are they (teachers) going to explain these concepts to a room full of children and get them to understand when all the kids learn at a different pace without a teachers aide or parents to assist. What is going on?

sbacpt.tds.airast.org/student
myboysrock
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March 16, 2014
. I must admit that I have never had a one-on-one run in with Mrs. Silva, I stay away and keep my peace. But I have been witness to her being rude to parents and students. With my own eyes and ears, not of gossip and hear say. The parents, two separate on two separate occasions were simply asking her a question, to which her reply was rude and short, for no reason. And I saw her pull two 2nd graders out their class. When she questioned them and found out they weren’t the two she was looking for she Snapped at them loudly “Well if you aren’t the two then why am I wasting my time with you…get back to class” the poor little guys were looking at her all wide eyed. That is not any way for a Principal to be acting. Ever! I have been a parent at Hirsch since 2006. I have volunteered in my kids classrooms yearly, once a week. Until two years ago when I no longer felt welcome. Not because of the higher gates and the locked campus, but because of her, Mrs. Silva making parent volunteers (minus her favorites of course) feel as if they were more of a burden than a helper. Following our every move, and questioning or motives for being there. I’m sad that it has come down to this really. I feel for her I do, but I strongly feel that her place in life is not that of a Principal. A job where children look up to you and count on you for safety.
myboysrock
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March 16, 2014
Miss Tostatdo, just because you haven’t seen any wrong doing doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened. And I wouldn’t suspect that you would actually admit to it if you had, seeing how you are one of Mrs. Silva’s favorites. Yes, indeed, it is fairly obvious that Mrs. Silva plays favorites. Also, Mrs. Tostado, how nice for you and your husband to have such perfect children that they are not in need of any services, be it for health reasons or learning delays. But let me ask you? If they did need services wouldn’t you fight to the ends of the earth for your kids and their rights? To make sure they were given the same opportunities in a safe environment that all the other children receive? I admire Mrs. Barberis’ Mamma bear instincts. She is only trying to give her kids an education in a safe environment.. A Mamma Bear fighting to the end for her kids and an ALPHA Principal wanting to win (sadly, at the cost of the children). But take Mrs. Barberis out of the equation and you cannot ignore the facts. There have been countless other complaints about Mrs. Silva brought to the school board, by parents and teachers alike. Not just from Mrs. Barberis. And none of the complaints coming in have an
myboysrock
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March 15, 2014
Miss Tostatdo, just because you haven’t seen any wrong doing doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened. And I wouldn’t suspect that you would actually admit to it if you had, seeing how you are one of Mrs. Silva’s favorites. Yes, indeed, it is fairly obvious that Mrs. Silva plays favorites. Also, Mrs. Tostado, how nice for you and your husband to have such perfect children that they are not in need of any services, be it for health reasons or learning delays. But let me ask you? If they did need services wouldn’t you fight to the ends of the earth for your kids and their rights? To make sure they were given the same opportunities in a safe environment that all the other children receive? I admire Mrs. Barberis’ Mamma bear instincts. She is only trying to give her kids an education in a safe environment. With that said, I do believe that their (Mrs. Silva’s and Mrs. Barberis’) grievances with each other have gone to the extremes. A Mamma Bear fighting to the end for her kids and an ALPHA Principal wanting to win. But take Mrs. Barberis out of the equation and you cannot ignore the facts. There have been countless other complaints about Mrs. Silva brought to the school board, by parents and
teach2learn
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March 15, 2014
Wow... "Too nice, videos all day and crappy teaching ?" I guess that's all it takes to be a California Distinguished school... Unless you actually know the "data" for our school please don't tell us how we teach or feel.
concernedteacher
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March 14, 2014
I am so sick of parents/past teachers complaining about the new principal. The problem is the past principal was just "Too nice" he allowed the teachers and parents to run the school. Teachers were allowed to do whatever they wanted because their scores were high. Yet, some really crappy teaching was going on. past teachers that were transferred to other schools had a fit when they realized that at other schools, principals actually went into classrooms to observe, and actually made sure they were actually teaching curriculum instead of watching videos all day. Ms. Silva came in and now they are expected to follow rules, and realize that NO they are not the boss. I have seen this first hand, there are 2 sides to this story. Parents at the schools were these teachers transferred their kids out of the schools these teachers went to because of their crappy teaching. You should check ALL the data before you try to oust a principal just because she is by the book.
myboysrock
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March 16, 2014
Miss Tostatdo, just because you haven’t seen any wrong doing doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened. And I wouldn’t suspect that you would actually admit to it if you had, seeing how you are one of Mrs. Silva’s favorites. Yes, indeed, it is fairly obvious that Mrs. Silva plays favorites. Also, Mrs. Tostado, how nice for you and your husband to have such perfect children that they are not in need of any services, be it for health reasons or learning delays. But let me ask you? If they did need services wouldn’t you fight to the ends of the earth for your kids and their rights? To make sure they were given the same opportunities in a safe environment that all the other children receive? I admire Mrs. Barberis’ Mamma bear instincts. She is only trying to give her kids an education in a safe environment.. A Mamma Bear fighting to the end for her kids and an ALPHA Principal wanting to win (sadly, at the cost of the children). But take Mrs. Barberis out of the equation and you cannot ignore the facts. There have been countless other complaints about Mrs. Silva brought to the school board, by parents and teachers alike. Not just from Mrs. Barberis. And none of the complaints coming in have anything to do with staff, students or parents being unhappy with having to follow rules. All the complaints are a direct result of her behavior, attitude, demeanor and the way she treats people on a whole. Nor can you ignore the fact that she left her last Principal role in a very similar manner that is happening now. Parents and staff complaining to school board about her actions
myboysrock
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March 16, 2014
and.... I must admit that I have never had a one-on-one run in with Mrs. Silva, I stay away and keep my peace. But I have been witness to her being rude to parents and students. With my own eyes and ears, not of gossip and hear say. The parents, two separate on two separate occasions were simply asking her a question, to which her reply was rude and short, for no reason. And I saw her pull two 2nd graders out their class. When she questioned them and found out they weren’t the two she was looking for she Snapped at them loudly “Well if you aren’t the two then why am I wasting my time with you…get back to class” the poor little guys were looking at her all wide eyed. That is not any way for a Principal to be acting. Ever! I have been a parent at Hirsch since 2007. I have volunteered in my kids classrooms yearly, once a week. Until two years ago when I no longer felt welcome. Not because of the higher gates and the locked campus, but because of her, Mrs. Silva making parent volunteers (minus her favorites of course) feel as if they were more of a burden than a helper. Following our every move, and questioning or motives for being there. I’m sad that it has come down to this really. I feel for her I do, but I strongly feel that her place in life is not that of a Principal. A job where children look up to you and count on you for safety.
citizen0099
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March 16, 2014
Way to devalue some great teachers from the past. A lot of amazing teachers have passed through Hirsch. You show zero respect for those who worked hard for the children of your school. Your post wreaks of elitism and the unfounded venom you spew is surely enabled by your anonymity. May you receive more respect than you have given.
WBW
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March 17, 2014
concernedteacher your post is ridiculous and an obvious tirade. My kids went to Hirsch from the day it opened until my last child moved on 5 years ago. Every single teacher we had was excellent. We, like many others, passed up Gate because Hirsch was a better school. All of my kids went on to Gate after leaving there. One graduated with AP honors from Kimball, one with IB honors from Tracy High, and one is in IB at Tracy High now. That all started at Hirsch under Jon Fine and all the great teachers that were there. This was a great school but obviously parents do not currently think it is so change is probably in order. It looks like the parent haters have taken over Hirsch.
Urmomma
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March 14, 2014
Welcome to TUSD, unfortunately their are a few more like Ms. Silva in the district. I applaud your efforts Ms. Berbaris for having the courage to speak up.
pso17
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March 14, 2014
Why do we have so many children in classroom with no teachers aide? If we have up to 32 students with no teachers aide why not accept any help from parents. Who in there right mind would prevent parents from helping out teachers who are overwhelmed and stressed. The education of our children has to suffer with so many children jammed into a classroom and limited resources provided for the teachers. Every student does not learn at the same level so how can 1 teacher accommodate every student without help. Why are we allowing our children's education to suffer? We should utilize fundraiser sites like adoptaclassroom.org to help provide additional funds for our struggling teachers. Time for parents to step up and take back control of our children's education.
TracyMomto2
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March 14, 2014
I think it's great Ms. Silva has supporters and great that she spared the children what would have been a ridiculous protest in front of their school. The kids should be spared from all this adult nonsense. I think that Michelle should remember that everyone's experience is different and just because it's different doesn't make it mean less or they are "small-minded". Although I do agree that everyone should speak from their own experience and not from hear say or gossip of someone else's. Let's remember this is all about our children and their education. If 1 child feels bullied or not heard or cared about isn't that 1 child to many? Ms. Silva should be a safe person to go for them. Firm is ok as long as it's still safe. There is good and bad in everyone but our kids should not be exposed to bad.....especially at this young age.
mommy2alex
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March 14, 2014
So glad that my child is in middle school now and we no longer have to deal with Ms. Silva. Whenever you need to talk to that woman - you can never get a word in. And what right does Michelle Tostado have to say that the "accusations were not justified" - just because you don't see it doesn't mean it doesn't happen.
TracyMomto2
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March 14, 2014
Let's all not forget to this is a woman that felt the need to have a mom arrested in front of all of our children before their school day! That in one of the many things I don't want to have to explain to my kids! Again!


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