Community demands answers after principal reassignment
Feb. 13: This article has been updated to include information about Anthony Limon’s pay and correct the spelling of Elizabeth Gongora’s name.
Parents of the Sharyland ISD community have gone through several days of protest following the sudden reassignment of Shimotsu Elementary Principal Anthony Limon. After parents learned about the change in campus leadership, they insisted on knowing why.
Several adults said they heard through social media and from their children that the district allegedly had Limon escorted off campus Jan. 26, and he would no longer be the principal of Shimotsu Elementary. But there was no official communication from SISD leadership. After some back and forth regarding when would be his final day on campus, the district ultimately removed the principal from his position Feb. 2 and named Elizabeth Gongora interim principal.
Gongora has 29 years in public education with a focus on bilingual education. According to a press release, she served as a librarian, district elementary supervisor, district social studies coordinator, assistant principal and principal. Most recently, she was the bilingual and ESL coordinator for Sharyland ISD.
Limon, however, became the dean of instruction at B.L. Gray Jr. High after almost 16 years at Shimotsu. Legally, SISD cannot comment on personnel matters and the reason for the reassignment. However, Director of Public Relations Nancy Barboza provided a statement on Limon’s new position.
“His position is that of a campus administrator and instructional leader. He will be assisting the school principal in providing leadership to ensure high standards of instructional service and overseeing compliance with district policies, success of instructional programs and operation of all campus activities,” Barboza said. “His experience will help our secondary students succeed. Mr. Limon’s new position is considered a transfer within the same professional capacity as his prior position.”
Barboza also confirmed Limon’s pay is the same in his new position as it was as Shimotsu Elementary principal.
But Sharyland parents are suspicious of the sudden change and how the district handled the situation. With in-person protests, student absences as a form of protest and a gathering at Bannworth Park, the SISD parents are determined to get answers.
The adults have several concerns, one of which is how switching the school principal in the middle of the year affects the children. Health and wellness coach Carla Salgado — mother of two children at Shimotsu — said the disruption could impact the students more than the district realizes.
“My girls have been very sad. Even my 7 year old told me, ‘You know mom, I don’t want to go to school anymore. Mr. Limon is not outside saying ‘Hi’ anymore. I feel sad at school,’” Salgado said. “I’m a psychologist and I’m certified in grief…kids are going to be grieving and this is going to impact them psychologically. Why don’t you wait three and a half months for him to stay and close out the year? Just let the kids, over the summer, digest the information that he’s not going to be here.”
At the Feb. 6 meeting at Bannworth Park, the parents had a formal gathering where they stated their concerns in English and Spanish. During the assembly, they read five requests they have for Sharyland ISD administration:
- A hearing with the superintendent and school board to get the facts surrounding Limon’s dismissal from Shimotsu; when and why the district made the decision
- Why the board hired Superintendent Dr. Maria Vidaurri with a base pay of $250,608 when her previous base pay at Robstown ISD was $160,000
- If the decision to remove Limon was the sole decision of Vidaurri or if she also had the support and approval of the school board
- Who did not allow the community to say goodbye to their principal
The parents invited the board of trustees to the Bannworth meeting but reported seeing only Alejandro Rodriguez, who is up for reelection this year. Rodriguez declined to comment on the events.
“Any comments would have to come from administration,” he said.
Additionally, the parents began filing formal grievances to have a record of their disapproval of SISD’s decision. The hope is they will be able to talk to the school board because none of the members, besides Rodriguez, have responded to their concerns.
A community member also set up an online petition called Keep Mr. Limon at Shimotsu, which has almost 800 signatures and comments detailing the importance as of Feb. 9. User Jessica Tobias started the petition and addressed it to firstname.lastname@example.org. It reads:
“Mr. Limon is the heart and soul of Shimotsu Elementary. Starting Tuesday, he will be moved to B.L. Gray Middle School and no longer principal at Shimotsu. He has played an integral part in Shimotsu’s successes and is loved by students, staff and parents alike. Please sign and share this petition to bring attention to this issue and show Sharyland ISD administrators that moving Mr. Limon will be detrimental to our Shimotsu community.”
Salgado said she moved into the Shimotsu school zone specifically so her kids could attend. Before her first pregnancy, Salgado heard her sister speak highly of the campus. She said Limon always cared for his campus community even when conditions turned difficult.
“We never complained because we had a leader,” she said. “He was the leader of our ship. He kept our kids happy and academically successful. If our leader kept us afloat, we were happy. So why did they do this to him?”
Although she doesn’t know the interim principal and cannot speak to Gongora’s abilities, she and other parents feel the district has lacked transparency throughout the ordeal.
“The kids are being emotionally affected, and we as parents are their voice,” Salgado said. “How can we trust a district that is not being clear with us?”