The Star-News

Rally for principal

Sat, Mar 01 2014 12:00 PM Posted By: Robert Moreno

Cynthia Espinosa’s daughter entered Castle Park Middle School as a seventh-grader, a year before Robert “Bobby” Bleisch was named the principal there.

She said her daughter was often bullied and belittled by staff members; as a result her grades suffered. She tried speaking to administrators on her daughter’s behalf but the problem persisted.

But after Bleisch arrived and she expressed her concerns to him, the bullying stopped and her daughter managed to raise her GPA from a 1.7 to a 3.7.

Espinosa was recently speaking out in defense of Bleisch because earlier this month the principal found himself reassigned to district headquarters after the district opened an investigation into allegations of misconduct.

The district has hired outside counsel to investigate several allegations ranging from misuse of ASB funds to bullying staff and faculty.

Some of the allegations have gone public, as those made by teacher Kris Elam who said during a board meeting that she spoke to teachers who are accusing Bleisch of sexual harassment.

Another teacher, Granger Jr. High School teacher Jennifer Cochrane-Schultz publicly accused Bleisch of being homophobic.

The school district has not said whether it was investigating sexual harassment claims, or if any harassment claims have been made.

Espinosa, however, defends Bleisch and said all the allegations made against him are false.

“I know Bobby Bleisch as a man of integrity,” said Espinosa.

Eric Chappel, another parent who put his daughter through Castle Park while Bleisch was principal, said Bleisch has changed the culture on campus.

“When Bobby came in there he set a new tone,” Chappel said. “He came in there full of energy and I saw a guy who was inspiring students to do more than what they believe they could do, which is something I hadn’t seen at that campus prior to Bobby’s arrival.”

About 35 Bleisch supporters showed up at a “Bring Bobby Back” rally in front of Castle Park Middle School on Feb. 26

Supporters held signs that read “We Love Bobby!” and “Castle Park wants our principal back now!” The crowd also chanted “Bring Bobby Back!”

One of those supporters was parent Maria Quezada, who said Bleisch turned around the worst school in the district.

“He made this a great school, it wasn’t a great school before,” Quezada said. “Kids now have good grades, perfect attendance; we were terrified to bring our kids to this school until we met Bobby.”

Quezada said if Bleisch doesn’t return to Castle Park, she would consider transferring her child out of Castle Park Middle.

Espinosa said it is other teachers that are bullying students and are resistant to the changes Bleisch has made on campus.

Chappel also said parent participation at the school has increased since Bleisch arrived on campus.

Chappel said his daughter too wasn’t succeeding academically before Bleisch, but her grades picked up once he took over as principal.

Chappel said the allegations are “a bunch of garbage and ridiculous” and said it is a smear campaign by several teacher’s who want Bleisch out of the school.

Rosemarie Murphy, a friend and supporter of Bleisch said she’s known the principal since he was a child. She said in all the years he’s known him; he’s never displayed characteristics that would describe any of the allegations.

“Whoever is making these allegations is doing it with an agenda,” she said.

Chappel said he believes in the district and has faith that the investigation will turnout in favor of Bleisch.

Chappel said it would be a “travesty” if the district doesn’t bring back Bleisch to his principal position at Castle Park Middle School.

© 2009 The Star-News