School board member removed from Westar campus

Liberty Elementary School District board member Kathy McNamara was issued a trespass notice by the Goodyear Police Department on behalf of Superintendent Dr. Andy Rogers. (West Valley View photo by Ray Thomas)

Liberty Elementary School District board member Kathy McNamara has been banned from Westar Elementary School’s campus for one year after what police call “a disturbance” on the facility’s campus on August 2.

The Goodyear Police Department served her with the letter of trespass on August 3 at the request of Superintendent Dr. Andy Rogers, according to police.

Although the trespass letter would typically prevent McNamara from being on the Westar campus, the Goodyear Police Department makes exceptions in the case of schools in which the individual has an attending child, said Lisa Kutis, GPD public information officer.

McNamara will still be allowed in the school parking lot and front office to pick up or drop off her daughter, Kutis said. She can also attend school functions in which her daughter is a participant. Any other campus visitation would violate Arizona Revised Statute 13-1502, constituting a criminal trespass in the third degree.

McNamara said she believes the ban stems from her concern about changes Rogers made to her daughter’s gifted services program at Westar, as well as the removal of her daughter’s teacher.

“I really believe I was removed because I’m asking ‘hard questions’ and not getting answers,” McNamara said.

Rogers said that is not the case.

“The reason for this is two separate incidents of verbal abuse and disruptive conduct,” he said. “Additionally, she refused to follow the directions of a staff member and police were enlisted to escort her off campus. These incidents are violation of district policy. The incidents occurred on Wednesday, August 2. We expect that all staff are to be treated with respect and courtesy.”

The Arizona School Board Association’s policy states, “No person shall engage in conduct that may cause interference with or disruption of an educational institution.”

Rogers added the decision was based on the way “McNamara interacted with staff.” Any kind of verbal abuse is unacceptable and requires appropriate actions, he said.

McNamara said she was unaware of reports of verbal abuse and disruptive conduct.

According to Kutis, a police report was filed for these incidents.

“I didn’t even know what the claim was,” McNamara said. “I have not seen any report. I was not told by the officers when they arrived to my door.”

Kutis explained that a Goodyear police officer was told about a disturbance and heard somebody crying in the courtyard. The officer was on campus since it was the first day of school.

According to state law, a school’s chief administrative officer can ask a person to “leave the property if the administrator has reasonable ground to believe that the person will interfere or disrupt the lawful use of the property and this can be enforced by any peace officer.”

Since her appointment to the board in June, McNamara has raised concerns over the governing body’s transparency and Rogers’ performance. She said she believes Rogers’ actions are politically motivated.

“The only way all of these problems are going to go away is if Dr. Rogers is removed,” McNamara said.

She encourages residents to attend school board meetings and participate in elections.

“School board elections have never been a high priority for people and they need to be, because it’s your children’s future,” McNamara said.

She said other personnel, including teachers as well as parents, have been removed from the school by Rogers. Rogers has been with the district for 10 years. McNamara’s children have been students there since 1997.

While no charges have been filed, the Goodyear Police Department is investigating, according to Kutis.

“Since this incident occurred, the Goodyear Police Department has received statements from witnesses to this incident,” Kutis said. “An investigation will be conducted and, if it is determined that a criminal violation occurred, then charges could be filed.”

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