Hopi Council mandates Ordinance 36 education law moves forward

HOPI RESERVATION, Ariz. - It has been a two-year political battle for the Hopi Board of Education (HBE) to get some forward progression and revision approval on the Hopi Council mandated directive to revise and update the 30-year-old education tribal law called "Ordinance 36."

Extensive meetings have been held in most of the villages and various community buildings during this time. Two of the eight local Hopi Reservation schools have opposed any new updates. Hopi Day School Principal John Thomas has been the most vocal opponent along with board members of Moencopi Day School, against any new revisions to Hopi tribal Ordinance 36. This is in despite written and verbal input from local Hopi parents and Hopi community members on what they want to see changed or deleted within the 30-year-old document that will benefit their children and grandchildren who attend a Hopi school.

Three local Hopi schools, Hopi High School, Moencopi Day School and First Mesa Elementary Day School also have not made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) state compliance. AYP documents the advancement and progress of student learning in a total school setting. Hopi Day School and Moencopi Day School have held steadfast in their disapproval of the new tribal ordinance draft.

On May 23, by unanimous vote, the Hopi Tribal Council formally mandated HBE under the direction of current Executive Director Cathy Wright and HBE Board President Edgar Shupla,

A memo read in part,"The Hopi Board of Education is directed to continue work on Ordinance 36, and also directs the local school boards and delegates to the HBE, to set up meetings and include discussions to educate the communities on Ordinance 36. To also have communication between the local school boards and HBE through their representatives, take place and inform HBE of their direction within six months."

HBE Director Cathy Wright has been working with her HBE governing board, which is comprised of a representative from every single school on Hopi. These appointed school representatives evaluate the education and safety needs of every single student in all categories including regular students, gifted students, special needs, vocational and adult education as well as including culturally enriching programs such as Hopilavayi while also keeping in mind state and federal compliance laws within the Hopi Ordinance 36.

Further, there is an Ordinance 36 revision team created by the Hopi Tribal Council working with school board members, HBE members, tribal employees and interested community members.

At HBE's next public meeting on June 28, the board will provide direction for the next steps in the revision process, which will include incorporating comments received both in writing and verbally at public meetings in the proposed revision.

Hopi Day School staff and Principal John Thomas have opposed in both publicly distributed paper documents signed off with a generic signature of "Hopi Day School staff" and in public meetings, the fear that HBE "will dominate and control" their local schools. However, there is no where in the new ordinance that states that.

Upon reviewing the new 36 draft, it's very specific in Section 8, Organization, Powers and Duties of Local School Boards, that "all local participating school control will be supported by HBE." Also Ordinance 36 will formally recognize as part of the Hopi educational system schools that were not recognized or established in the document 30 years ago such as Hopi High and First Mesa Elementary.

The whole idea of the new ordinance is to build teaching and professional partnerships in schools like Moencopi Day, Hopi High School and First Mesa Elementary School who have failed to make AYP compliance. The ordinance would utilize what is termed as "best practices" that have created successful education models such as Hotevilla-Bacavi Community School, Second Mesa Day School, Keams Canyon Boarding School and Hopi Day who have been exemplary schools for many years in a row.

The HBE in developing this new ordinance draft is also about sharing ideas, sharing information, progress and even individual teaching or education difficulties within the entire school system at Hopi while keeping their tribal education system mindful of Hopi ideals, values and long term character building and academic goals.

HBE is a regulated entity of the Hopi Tribe, which makes it much different than a tribal department or program. Hopi Ordinance 36 that HBE currently operates under is a tribal law.

To get more information about the new Ordinance 36 draft, to request a copy of both the old but still current ordinance and new draft that has been presented to villages and communities already, or to find out when the next public meeting will be scheduled in your community or village regarding new draft Ordinance 36, contact the HBE at (928) 734-2570k. Inquiries can also be made in person by visiting the HBE office, which is located in the grey Kykotsmovi Elderly Services building across from the Hopi Tribal Council headquarters, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday.

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