Onondaga Nation Members Remove Children From School

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The Onondaga Nation has asked the New York State Department of Education to audit the LaFayette School District’s hiring of a non-Native principal over an equally qualified tribal educator after parents yanked their children out of school two weeks early in protest.

“The Onondaga Nation Council of Chiefs has decided that our children’s last day of school for the 2016–2017 school year will be Friday, June 16, 2017,” the Onondaga Nation said in a statement. “This decision was reached with consultation with our Clan Mothers and community due to the lack of collaboration, respect and communication by Principal Diane Ellworth, Superintendent Laura Lavine, and the LaFayette Central School Board.”

The Nation, in central New York State, wants the culturally competent and qualified candidate Simone Thornton to replace outgoing principal Diane Ellworth. Thornton made it to the final three, but the state said it could not hire her without some required paperwork that she does not yet have. That paperwork is en route from the NYS Department of Education, according to Thornton. Onondaga Nation attorney Joseph Heath suggested that Thornton be named as interim principal pending the arrival of her paperwork, but instead the LaFayette District School Board chose Warren Smith, a non-Native educator who has never taught at the school. Smith declined the position on June 2.

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