Schooling the principal

Evelyn Baffico.

Evelyn Baffico.

Some are crying racism, others call it karma. Evelyn Baffico is getting ousted from her job as principal of the celebrated West Campus High School and being transferred to a vice-principal gig at an area elementary school. Bites just chalks it up to politics.

During her two-year stint at the highly selective public school, Baffico was a lightning rod. She got into a nasty feud with two longtime and beloved West Campus teachers, Gerry and Jennifer Mamola (see “Schooling the Mamolas,” SN&R Frontlines, March 5).

The couple was critical of Baffico and outspoken about West Campus admission policies, which they believed were elitist.

Baffico inherited the admission policy, and there’s some disagreement over whether she made it better or worse.

During Baffico’s tenure, the number of African-American students admitted to West Campus rose. But the number of English-language learners continued to plummet, thanks to high test scores required for consideration at the public school.

It was around this time last year that Baffico organized a birthday party for her son, who was a student at the school. The party was held during the school lunch hour and included an inflatable bouncy house, much to the dismay of many students who weren’t invited. The incident landed West Campus on the nightly news and was an embarrassment to Baffico. But it was the Mamolas who paid the price. They were transferred out of the school at the end of last year—most people believed because they pissed off Baffico.

Now it’s Baffico’s turn to get the boot. She didn’t return Bites’ call, and Sacramento City Unified School District officials wouldn’t discuss the transfer. But Jim Larson, one of the parents who supports Baffico, said it’s bad news for the elite high school.

“The district wants to get rid of West Campus. The only reason they’d do this is that it is the beginning of the end for the admission process and for West Campus as we know it.”

Indeed, Susan Miller, the district’s interim superintendent, mentioned in The Sacramento Bee earlier this year that she was concerned many neighborhood kids can’t get into West Campus. And district officials have told Bites that the admission policy is likely to get a review—after a new superintendent is hired.

Others see something more sinister at work in Baffico’s transfer. Last week, the Sacramento NAACP and the Sacramento Black Parallel School Board blasted the district for demoting Baffico and three other African-American administrators. NAACP president Betty Williams said Baffico’s transfer makes no sense. “She has the support of the parents, and she has a passion for her school. It’s not just a job for her.”

Williams added that the district has very few black administrators, and ought not to demote them without good reason. “Something smells funny here. Susan Miller needs to go back to her planning and try again.”

Speaking of dubious fixes, how about The Sacramento Bee’s efforts to control its obnoxious online readers? For at least three days last week, the Bee disabled reader comments on any of its online stories having to do with gay marriage. That included several news stories as well as columns by Steve Wiegand, Marcos Breton and Dan Walters.

At first, an editor’s note explained that comments were disabled in order to avoid hate speech. It seems editors there have caught on that many Bee commenters are knuckle-dragging haters (of various political stripes) who can’t spell. Later, the note was changed to invite people to an online “forum” on the subject of gay marriage.

Brilliant. Here’s a taste of what the “forum” produced:

“It’s nice to know that the Bee panders to the homosexual militia in censuring traditional family values.”

Some forum. Next time the Bee wants to post stories online without reader comments, they should just post them to Snog.