POLACCA, Ariz. — The Hopi Tribe’s Health and Education Committee (H&E) will give its findings to the Hopi Tribal Council at 10 a.m. May 8 about an investigation it launched into Hopi Jr/Sr High School.
According to a tribal press release, the investigation centers on the conduct and performance of Hopi Jr/Sr High School’s faculty, governing board and administration.
The investigation was launched after receipt of several letters from members of the Hopi community expressing their concerns. After receiving these letters, the Hopi Tribal Council voted to place the HJSHS Governing Board “under an investigative review.”
The tribe’s news release does not mention specific problems, but the areas of concern include lack of discipline, special education problems, lack of raises for teachers and lack of teacher retention.
On April 24, the tribal council, by majority vote, granted the H & E Committee the authority to review any school board policies, fiscal documents and school board decisions of any Hopi tribally-controlled school. Furthermore, if there is any evidence that the local school board acted contrary to appropriate policies, regulations, or statutes H&E has the authority to take appropriate action, including interceding, to resolve issues uncovered during the review.
All of the BIE funded schools on the Hopi Reservation have transitioned from BIE operated schools to tribally controlled schools.
David Talayumptewa, chairman of H&E, said in the news release: “It is important to note that the Hopi Tribal Council is ultimately responsible for the tribally-controlled schools on Hopi.”
The news release states that the motivation for interceding actions of the Hopi Tribal Council is indicated in a clause in resolution H-040-2018, which states that the Hopi Tribal Council “recognizes and embraces the responsibility to insure all children residing on the Hopi Reservation are provided with the best educational opportunities.”
One of the possibilities is that the Hopi Tribal Council will replace the local school board and appoint their own interim school board. They already did this with Second Mesa Day School.
The news release states the circumstances that precipitated the March 27 action against SMDS were detailed in Resolution H-041-2018, which stated “…as the Hopi Tribal Council serves as grantee of Second Mesa Day School (SMDS), a tribally controlled school under P.L. (Public Law) 100-297, and whereas SMDS was required to report on a yearly basis to the Hopi Tribal Council, yet no reports have occurred within recent years, and pursuant to the receipt of a letter of concern from the Mishongnovi Village Board of Directors on March 9, which provided substantial enough reason to intercede, the Hopi Tribal Council resolved to create an interim school board to oversee the operations of Second Mesa Day School.”
The news release states the resolution waived all SMDS school board member eligibility requirements from the interim board and the Hopi Tribal Council Representatives David Talayumptewa, Albert Sinquah, LeRoy N. Shingoitewa, Pansy Edmo and Alverna Poneoma were appointed to serve on the interim school board until such time an election is held and a new school board is seated.