Band Director Continues To Fight For His Job - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

06/15/05 - Lufkin

Band Director Continues To Fight For His Job

by Ramonica R. Jones

Meeting after meeting, protest after protest, Lufkin High School band students still can't believe they're losing their leader.

School administrators never gave specific details about Paul Najera's reassignment, but students have their own conclusions.

L'dona Sheppard said, "I was shocked because I don't see why they would want to move him to the middle school. If they say he's so hard on us, why would they want to move him to the middle school?"

Students don't deny there've been some complaints about their band leader, but not enough to get rid of him.

Melanie Schwartz said, "There was only a handful of people that had a problem with him and over 300 people that thought he was wonderful, so basically, I think that they need to listen to the majority of the people that think that he is the best band director that we've ever had."

Najera listened quietly as the school board announced it would not change its decision to reassign him to the middle school band. He says his students and parents who fought for him every step of the way keep him encouraged.

"The support is not only genuine, it's been enormous," said Najera. "It's been one of the things that's helped me gain the energy to continue the fight that I've had and it's beyond words. It's beyond overwhelming because of the fact that I know it's sincere."

The board said Najera's reassignment to Lufkin Middle School is not a demotion. His attorney says it is.

Mark Robinett said, "The superintendent and school board evidently feel that the superintendent has unlimited authority to move people around and we don't agree. We feel there are limits and this is one of them, when you take a person and make him subordinate to the position he used to have."

Najera has two options left: he can either appeal to the state Commissioner of Education in Austin or file a lawsuit in Lufkin for breach of contract.

The school board met with Najera and his lawyer for nearly three hours in a closed meeting Tuesday night before voting to uphold his transfer to the middle school.

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