Salida Board of Education President Joe Smith addressed community concerns Tuesday about the Sept. 23 incident at Salida High School that resulted in a 20-minute lockdown and four misdemeanor charges against SHS Principal Talmage Trujillo.

District parent Stefen Veltri addressed the board during public comment on the issue. 

“As all of you are aware, this has created a lot of contention in our community,” he said.

Veltri requested the board release security video that might help clarify what happened during the incident.

Following public comment, Smith spoke to the concerns of Veltri and others.

“We went through our executive session last week, which was a long night, 7-plus hours,” Smith said. 

“Legal counsel was there with us and has pretty much advised us. We can’t really say anything because there is an ongoing case.” 

Smith said the board would continue to honor that recommendation, “although it is frustrating for everybody involved,” including school board members, not to be able to share that information.

Smith said, “Some of us have been in communication with people at the city. I spoke to Dan Shore today. He and I are committed to continuing conversations and making sure we come out of this on the other side improving for the whole community.

“I know the timeline’s frustrating, but I want to make sure everybody hears that and understands that this process will play itself out.” 

Smith predicted the November school board meeting will be “heavy’ with some of those conversations.

He also expressed hope that the district and city might hold joint work sessions as part of a public process.

Robin NeJame also spoke during public comment to update the board on an audit of several student transcripts where inequities seem to appear for those taking college credit classes compared to graduation credit given at the high school.

Following manager and principal reports, the board heard an update on the Onward Education strategic planning focus groups and an update on COVID-19 in the district.

Superintendent David Blackburn reported masking continues to remain optional for students at the schools. 

He said thus far there have been no transmissions of the virus traceable to the classroom, but there has been one transmission event on a sports bus when students removed their masks in the close space. 

Blackburn said biweekly testing for athletics participation remains in place. 

Recently two fifth-grade classes had to quarantine and classes were able to flip to remote learning easily.

Blackburn said he is proud of the district’s teachers in being able to make the switch between in-person and remote learning fairly seamlessly.

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