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Parents share frustration over Catholic school merger

(KGNS)
Published: Mar. 20, 2019 at 12:13 PM CDT
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It’s been almost two months since the Diocese of Laredo announced the merger of Our Lady of Guadalupe School with St. Peter’s Memorial School and now board members are speaking out about the process.

Back in January, parents of both schools were told that the schools would be merged into one.

The dire financial situations of the schools left the diocese no choice, at least that’s what the parents were led to believe.

A school board member from Our Lady of Guadalupe says false promises and deception are the only thing the diocese gave to parents.

Colette Mireles says, "We were misled, we've been lied to, and we just want the community to know how everything went about.”

The merger of the schools has many parents speaking out about the decision, some saying that they were completely caught off guard.

The 115-year-old Catholic school is set to be renamed the San Juan Diego School and will consist of students from Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Peter’s Memorial.

It was back in February of 2018 when parents received word about the school’s financial woes.

During a meeting, the parents were told that a merger could be a possibility but that efforts to increase enrollment and fundraisers would help reduce the debt.

Mireles says as soon as the meeting was over, they immediately organized a fundraiser that brought in at least $6,000.

While the parents continued fundraising efforts, the tuition was raised at the school, bringing in roughly an extra $28,000 a year.

Some school fees were even doubled and new fees were added such as a $100 building fee, which brought in over $11,000.

Parents thought this would help and that they would have more time to raise the needed funds, but unfortunately, that effort was cut short.

Local parent Kevin Rubio says they gave the parents less than a year to come up with all the money.

In an email from the Diocese, it shows the total debt of Our Lady of Guadalupe as of December was $222,310.

The majority of the debt came from health insurance totaling just over $177,000.

The entire amount is owed to the diocese itself who gave the school loans and charged fees over the years.

The Our Lady of Guadalupe School Board reached out to Bishop James Tamayo of the Laredo Diocese via email, calling for answers regarding the closure of their school.

They say the bishop had not been present at any of the meetings and had either declined or not responded to numerous requests for a meeting with board members.

Mireles says "We've lost faith in our spiritual leader, Bishop Tamayo. He has not come forth to answer any of our questions, he hasn't presented himself. If this was his decision he should have given the courtesy to present himself to the parents. I feel that would have given him some sort of credibility."

Many parents feel the whole situation was nothing but lies, inconsistencies, lack of accountability and transparency. Some feel that it may be time to move on; meanwhile, others wish they had a shot.

With the new school occupying the campus of Our Lady of Guadalupe, many had hoped and were also promised that the principal and staff would stay on board with the new school.

However, those plans have changed as well as Bishop Tamayo announced that the current St. Peter’s Memorial Principal, Sister Beth Yoest will take over at the new San Juan Diego Catholic School.

The new school will open its doors this August for students. Those currently at Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Peters will finish out the remainder of this semester.