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Superintendent looking into irate parent incident

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by Nick Delgado

Guam - The superintendent of the Department of Education visited the Home of the Wildcats on Monday morning to get to the bottom of the incident that played out on the Tiyan campus last week. An irate parent showed up claiming his daughter was being bullied as some staff and students claim they felt terrorized and threatened.

"I know it was a very traumatic situation for them and we want to be as cautious as possible," said Jon Fernandez. The superintendent spent nearly two hours behind closed doors with staff at Untalan Middle School this morning, as he is personally investigating claims that an irate parent, Customs and Quarantine Agency Major Phil Taijeron, stormed onto the Tiyan campus last week after receiving a phone call from his daughter that she had been bullied.

The bullying incident was not reported to school staff who were surprised when Taijeron showed up demanding answers. Staff told KUAM News Taijeron was yelling, cursing and making threats in the school office causing alarm and prompting staff to contact airport police.

UMS principal Jim Reyes said, "Our staff takes so much pride in the work they do and to be exposed to something like that that has basically stripped them of that pride. And so right now we're letting them know that we're here from them." Fernandez said, "They are very emotionally affected and I want to make sure that that's something we don't overlook and know that they know they are supported. We want to give them the level of validation at the school level so they can feel safe to come in."

Fernandez, who just returned from a trip to Washington, DC last night, says he wanted to get all the facts straightened out. "I think a lot of what I've heard in the press and in some of our own statements and some of the incident reports just haven't really all pulled together for me," he stated, "so I thought I would come here to give it a little more thought a little more attention."

Taijeron, the husband of Republican Senator Mana Silva Taijeron, who is seeking re-election, issued a public apology on Sunday. Taijeron said he feared the worst when his daughter called to say she had been bullied while trying to intervene and help out another little girl. He wrote, "I was trying to get answers by yelling and barking orders.  I know now, my actions were offensive and disrespectful to the office staff and students in the immediate area, as well as others I encountered.  For that, I am sorry."

Taijeron said he had just returned from an eight month-long deployment and "because of all my training I should have conducted myself better.... I beg for your forgiveness; from all who I offended at the school, the students, the clerks at the office, faculty, parents and all in our community who had to read and hear my disrespectful behavior."

In the meantime, Reyes is working to resolve the issue at the school level, and reaching out to all parents whose children were involved, telling KUAM News, "We'll be meeting with faculty to share the incident and reiterate and go through protocols in terms of bullying and dealing with irate parents and things of that nature."

Guam Education Board member Barry Mead said last week that he was going to look into the matter and meet with school staff today, however he tells KUAM News the board will let the DOE superintendent first handle the issue.

DOE issued a statement in which Fernandez wrote, “I want to commend the staff and teachers in the front office for their courage in shielding students and trying to defuse this serious situation,” said Fernandez. “Several employees are still dealing with shock and stress from the incident, and I needed to be there to hear directly from them.”

Fernandez also indicated that he is following up with the Guam International Airport Authority’s Airport Police Division to get a copy of their report to the Attorney General and to determine whether additional information is needed.

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