Wednesday Oct 14 2009
Superintendent claims picture painted is inaccurate
By: Gloria Beverage
Colfax Elementary School Superintendent/Principal Jon Ray asserted Wednesday that the allegations raised by parents Monday night are unfounded. In an effort to “get to me,” he said, the credibility of Michelle Heimann, a longtime Colfax resident and supporter of the school district, has been destroyed. He believes some parents “have taken it to a different level because of decisions I’ve had to make that had nothing to do with Michelle, but had to do with their kids and program decisions.” Ray pointed out that Heimann had attended school in Colfax and had worked on behalf of the school district prior to obtaining her teaching credential from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. She had served as president of the board of trustees and worked on behalf of last year’s bond measure seeking funds to update classrooms at the school. “She has dedicated her life to this community. Over the years, Michelle and I have worked very closely together – starting with the bond measure and all the public presentations we made,” Ray said. “In addition to growing in a professional relationship, our families grew very close.” Heimann stepped in last spring as a substitute for a seventh-grade class. When the position became open in the fall, she was one of 39 teachers to apply for the long-term substitute position. The unanimous decision to hire Heimann was made by a committee consisting of Ray, the school board member and a teacher. “For those parents to say she got that position because of our relationship is incredibly inappropriate,” Ray said. Heimann did not return phone calls or answer e-mails from the media. According to Ray, Heimann has gone in seclusion. Another substitute teacher has been hired to teach her class. Heimann’s teaching partner at Colfax Elementary, Mary Ann Hinrichs, said, “She shows a lot of integrity (as a teacher). She has been doing her best and never hesitates to come for help.” Hinrichs added that as a new teacher Heimann has done everything that needed to be done and beyond. “She’s also the girls’ basketball coach. She’s brought in art projects she’s done with both classes and has done three labs already (in six weeks). She’s been able to balance her teaching along with coaching. For a new teacher, it’s often hard to learn how to balance everything and do it well.” Ray said the allegations did not accurately portray what is going on at Colfax Elementary. “If you asked where the school was 2-1/2 years ago — the discipline problems and the morale of the staff – and where we are today, (I’d ask) what decisions have I ever been involved with or done that said this is what is best for the kids? “If they think I spent all those hours trying to pass bonds or those hours involved with the youth leagues or else involved with our sports programs because I was looking for personal glory, why would I be in Colfax,” he asked.