As an at-will employee who was unexpectedly terminated on March 12 from Cedaredge High School, I was simply told by the school district, "Ms. Nakai was terminated from her food service position at Cedaredge High School pursuant to school board policy GHDQ." That was the only official explanation which I received and was verbally told that as an at-will employee no explanation is required.
I was willing to accept this and move on with my life. After reading the article in the Delta County Independent dated March 21, which states principal Todd Markley and Rhonda Vincent believed a change in staffing would improve the "school climate and culture," I decided a response was necessary.
The comment mentioned in the paper concerns me regarding my role as a mother, wife and volunteer in the Cedaredge community. As one of a few Navajos living in this community I took it upon myself to start volunteering at the elementary school in 2000 and have continued volunteering as my kids progressed through middle school into high school. I recently played a significant part in volunteering with my husband, David Gordon, in assisting the Cedaredge High School marching band with fundraising and attending the state competition, where they won first place. Every Thursday, I volunteer at the Cedaredge Food Bank and I received comments from the community about the dismissal. I am a part of this community and believe giving back is essential and wish to provide a good example to my own kids and other children. After 9/11 I noticed a certain suspicion of anyone who was not part of the dominant culture and really endorsed the chance to have a great part-time job at the CHS kitchen where I could be close to my kids and interact with children who may seldom come in contact with Native Americans.
To set the record straight, I never was reprimanded for doing my job, the children were served their lunch on time and no one ever got sick from eating the food. In my opinion the school district was not patient in following their own policies and abused the at-will law by terminating all three employees. I will continue to volunteer with the high school marching band even after my last daughter has graduated and will also continue to volunteer at the food bank. The phrase to improve culture and climate of the school was listed as a reason for the termination. As a volunteer I will continue to remember that phrase and continue my volunteer efforts improving the culture and climate of Cedaredge. As human beings we need to work with each other and not conduct sneaky business behind closed doors. We have a history of a lot of broken treaties over the years. This type of activity should change.
(Editor's note: This letter refers to a short article in the March 21 issue published to dispel rumors of illegal activity.)blog comments powered by Disqus