Coronado three: for the sake of the students, Scottsdale Schools leader can still do the right thing

By Nancy Cantor, Edmond Richard and Christine Meyer Schild
Special to Independent Newsmedia

When Dr. Denise Birdwell started working for the Scottsdale School District, we were enthusiastic.

The district began taking a hard look at Coronado High School and what was needed to fix roughly 10 years of neglect of the students and quality of teaching and administrative staff at the school.

In a school district where academic achievement was rarely the focus, it was refreshing to hear people admit we needed to do more for the children. As we moved through the school year, we began to see the results of the Coronado Success Initiative.

Student needs were being addressed and children were being encouraged to look toward their future after high school. Students received tutoring, counseling, and college/career services that had been unheard of just one year before.

We also noticed a change in the culture at Coronado. The grey cloud hanging over the school had lifted. Students and teachers were being celebrated once more. The vibe on campus was upbeat. Students and teachers were re-engaged in the learning process. Again, it was refreshing to see the positive changes on campus.

Some community members viewed our support of the Coronado Success Initiative as support for Dr. Birdwell. We, just like others in the community, were disappointed to learn that Dr. Birdwell’s success at Coronado was not replicated at the Education Center. Attorney Susan Segal’s revelations have made it difficult to associate the educator we were focused on with the business leader we thought she was.

As difficult as it would be to say this to any public official in our community, we are asking Dr. Birdwell to resign for the good of the school district. We realize we cannot force her to waive the due process to which she is entitled, but that process is preventing Scottsdale from moving forward.

The district can only hire an “acting” Superintendent while Dr. Birdwell is on leave and fighting the statement of charges.

We realize Dr. Birdwell may not have warm fuzzy feelings for Scottsdale given the way she was pilloried on social media. However, we once had faith that she thought of the students first. For their sake, we are asking Dr. Birdwell to resign and allow the District to re-focus its efforts on educating our children.

Editor’s note: Ms. Cantor is a longtime Scottsdale volunteer and community activist. Mr. Richard is a graduate and parent of students at Coronado High School. Ms. Schild is a former member of the Scottsdale School District’s Governing Board.

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