Students hold signs outside Butterfield Ranch Elementary

Students hold signs outside Butterfield Ranch Elementary in Chino Hills on Jan. 30, when nearly half of the students were kept home by their parents that day and the next. Several parents told the Champion that the action was taken to get the district, which receives state funding for student attendance, to respond to their concerns. 

Parents of Butterfield Ranch Elementary in Chino Hills, where 24 tenured teachers have requested school transfers, were both disappointed and happy at a turn of events last week. 

Parents believe the teachers wanted transfers because they had not been supported at the school by principal Al Bennett. 

Superintendent Norm Enfield, associate superintendent of instruction Grace Park, assistant superintendent of human resources Richard Rideout, district staff, and a representative of the Associated Chino Teachers union, met on Friday, Jan. 31 with Butterfield Ranch teachers and assistant principal Vanessa Freedman.

The superintendent announced to school parents later in the day that principal Bennett would be out of the position “indefinitely” effective Monday, Feb. 3.  

Mr. Bennett was replaced on Monday by Chino Valley district administrator Laurie Warner, who had been principal of Eagle Canyon Elementary in Chino Hills before accepting a district position last year. 

Chino Valley school district public relations director Imee Perius said Ms. Warner will be a temporary principal of the school until the end of the 2019-20 school year and that she will not be hired as permanent for next school year. 

Some Butterfield parents on Jan. 31 also received letters from their assistant principal stating that their child’s classroom teacher had been replaced “indefinitely” with a long-term substitute teacher. 

Parents were not told the reason for the departure of the two teachers referenced in letters received by parents that day.

At least two other teachers – including kindergarten teacher Tina Bozikis-Coccia who was arrested, cited and released Jan. 23 on allegations that she assaulted one of her students – had previously left the school for reasons that were not disclosed by the school district, Butterfield teachers or the teachers union. 

Parents speaking at the Jan. 16 school board meeting said a kindergarten teacher had received medical treatment after being assaulted by a student. They did not identify the teacher or student by name. 

Union president Brenda Walker declined to comment about the situation.     

Mrs. Perius said, “The school district has hired an outside firm to conduct investigations of all parties relevant to the Butterfield Ranch Elementary issues.”

Chino Hills Police Captain John Walker said last week that at the conclusion of the police department’s investigation there was nothing to indicate there were additional victims or incidents. 

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