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WINDOW ROCK, ARIZONA Even with opposition to close three middle schools that impact hundreds of Navajo Nation students, the Gallup McKinley County School Board voted by a 3-2 vote to close down the schools on the Navajo Nation.
Navajo President Shelly speaks to
the Gallup McKinley County School Board
“Any future decision to be made about the restructuring of the school district involving Navajo students will need to take place with the Navajo Nation representing the Navajo children,”
President Shelly said.
In reaction to the school board's decision not to reconsider its vote, Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly said he wants to meet with Hanna Skandera, New Mexico Public Education Department secretary designate, about the school closures.
“I want to start the process to see what it's going to take to meet with Secretary Skandera on a government to government basis We want to see what we can do to prevent the schools from closing,”
President Shelly said.
Community members and Navajo leaders in a series of town hall meetings asked the board to reconsider their decision. The recall item was on the school board's agenda Monday night, but the board didn't take any action on the measure.
“I am very disappointed, that you didn't act on the action item on the agenda, it would've been nice if you tabled it and so we could come together and talk,”
President Shelly said during the public comment portion of the agenda.
President Shelly added that he intends to turn the issue over the Navajo Department of Justice to explore legal avenues to keep the schools open.
“We're partners with the state of New Mexico in the education of Navajo children. There is a need to collaborate,”
said President Shelly, citing the New Mexico Indian Education Act.
President Shelly also stated the Navajo Nation needs to be involved in future decisions regarding restructuring schools that could harm Navajo students.
Navajo Council Delegates Edmund Yazzie, Mel Begaye, Roscoe Smith and Leonard Tsosie all spoke at Monday's meeting against the school closures.
The schools scheduled to close are in Navajo, Tohatchi and Crownpoint.
posted May 24, 2012 7:20 am edt
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