As a teacher in an impoverished, gang-ridden area of South Los Angeles, Rigoberto Ruelas always reached out to the toughest kids. He would tutor them on weekends and after school, visit their homes, encourage them to aim high and go to college.Read the full story
The fifth-grade teacher at Miramonte Elementary School was so passionate about his mission that, school authorities say, he had near perfect attendance in 14 years on the job.
So when Ruelas, 39, failed to show up for work last week, his colleagues instantly began to worry. And their worst fears were confirmed Sunday morning. In the Big Tujunga Canyon area of the Angeles National Forest, a search-and-rescue team with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department discovered Ruelas' body in a ravine about 100 feet below a nearby bridge.
Ruelas' death stunned Miramonte students, teachers and parents. Many left hand-written notes, flowers, candles and white balloons at an impromptu memorial. By evening, dozens gathered to light candles, sing Spanish-language hymns and recite the Rosary. Ruelas' family, too, came to the school and slowly walked along the memorial wall, thanking parents and reading the messages.
Ruelas did not leave a suicide note, authorities said, and it remained unclear why he took his life.
Teachers union President A.J. Duffy said his staff was told by Ruelas' family that the teacher was depressed about his score on a teacher-rating database posted by The Times on its website. The newspaper analyzed seven years of student test scores in English and math to determine how much students' performance improved under about 6,000 third- through fifth-grade teachers. Based on The Times' findings, Ruelas was rated "average" in his ability to raise students' English scores and "less effective" in his ability to raise math scores. Overall, he was rated slightly "less effective" than his peers.
"Despite The Times' analysis, and all other measures, this was a really good teacher," said Duffy, who called on the newspaper to take down the database. Many parents also asked that Ruelas' page on The Times' website be taken down.
Thursday, September 30, 2010
LA Times: L.A. Teacher committed suicide, possibly due to teacher rankings published in the Times
This from the LA Times: