The resignation of a popular high school administrator has prompted an angry backlash in the El Rancho Unified School District. About 60 parents, students and former students showed up at Tuesday night's board meeting in the Pico Rivera City Hall to protest the departure of Don Peterson, dean of students at El Rancho High School.
Peterson resigned, effective next Wednesday, to become a vice principal in the Downey Unified School District. He accepted the Downey job after the El Rancho school board decided not to promote him to assistant principal of guidance at El Rancho. Peterson was the top choice of both a search committee and the superintendent, district sources said.
More than half a dozen speakers said school board vendettas against Peterson and other administrators have contributed to the recent departures of three principals and another dean. "Some of you have made it almost impossible to work in this district," said Jose Rodriguez Jr., a 19-year-old graduate training to become a firefighter. Pete Zuniga, a 1979 graduate, described Peterson as "the kind of guy that teaches all of us to be good guys." Zuniga is a Los Angeles police officer.
Board President Pete Ramirez, who took the brunt of the criticism, denied any wrongdoing by the board, adding that board members are not allowed to discuss personnel matters "outside of executive session."