Sweetwater Union HS District Reinstates Mary Rose Peralta

Mary Rose Peralta spent 30 years as educator in the Sweetwater Union High School District where she also served as Principal for 12 years now. (Photo: M.Peralta)

PRESS RELEASE

Demoted Chula Vista Fil Am principal reinstated

20 May 2021 (San Diego, CA) – About eleven months after being demoted from her position as principal of Chula Vista High School (CVHS), Mary Rose Peralta was reinstated as full-fledged principal at Otay Ranch High School. Shortly after the official announcement, Peralta posted an update on social media stating that “On Monday night, ‘interim’ was removed before ‘principal’ by the Board of Trustees.”

Peralta added that she was “thankful, humbled, and blessed” after a memorandum dated 11 May 2021 and signed by Eduardo Reyes, Chief Human Resources Officer of Sweetwater Union High School District, was released to personnel on the same day.

The school administrator was removed from her position in CVHS in June and demoted as middle school principal, a move that prompted former students, the school community, and the public to launch online and street protests. Back in August, close to 10,000 supporters signed the online petition and hundreds of community members went out to the streets and honked their vehicles demanding reinstatement of the Filipino American educator.

In October 2020, approximately two months after the protest was organized outside Sweetwater Union High School District headquarters in Chula Vista, Peralta was again transferred from the Chula Vista Middle School to Otay Ranch High School and given the title ‘interim principal.’ On Tuesday, Peralta was greeted by personnel and staff after receiving an email from the Board of Trustees of Peralta’s permanent appointment in the same school.

“I am happy where I am right now and with this new development, I am humbled. Otay Ranch High School is a big school system itself and there are a lot of opportunities to grow,” said Peralta.

In addition to this development, another Filipino American school administrator, Jason Josafat, who was also removed from his position back in June, was given a permanent appointment as Assistant Principal at Bonita Vista High School.

Although reasons for Peralta’s removal last year were not made public, speculations revolve around a photo opportunity where the principal gave graduating seniors a ‘creative opportunity’ where their names were drawn on the football field and allowed students to take photos of them on the field. Community members believed it was an unfair action taken against the school administrator.

Peralta, who came to the United States as a fresh graduate from Manila in 1990, spent more than 30 years as an educator in the Sweetwater Union educational system. Bringing with her an undergraduate degree in literature from the University of the Philippines, Peralta began her teaching career at Montgomery High School. She became an administrator in 2000 and has been serving in the school district as principal for the past 12 years.

Peralta has been known as a highly decorated administrator having been awarded as Administrator of the Year by the Association of California School Administrators and Woman of the Year.

During the entire ordeal, Peralta remained mum on the issue and only gave a public statement in an interview by The Filipino School after the new appointment was released this month. Peralta indicated that she had “moved on beyond the hurt” and that she will continue to be inspired by the support she received from her family and the community.

“This difficult journey has opened my eyes to the importance of service, community, and doing the right thing.  I have grown as a person and as a leader.  I am humbled by my peers’ and by the community’s faith and belief in my commitment to students and in my skills as an educator and instructional leader,” she said.

Her commitment as a school administrator and a community leader is likewise invested into building a better future for the youth.

“I am committed to continuing the hard work of doing what is best and what is right for our children, our families, our educators, and our community,” she added.

One Filipino American community

The Filipino School, a not-for-profit organization in San Diego, took a significant part in the protests as a way of extending support to members of the Filipino American and Asian American communities who may be discriminated against. As a volunteer, Peralta was a founding faculty member of school. 

Co-Founder Tony Olaes said he was involved in the protests not only due to Peralta’s affiliation with The Filipino School but her being a member of the Filipino American community. When Peralta was publicly demoted without reason, Olaes said he knew he had to engage.

“I didn’t want our community to be looked upon as weak,” Olaes said during the protest rally in August.

Olaes is one of the active community leaders in California who has been vocal about refusing to “take it when minority Asian Americans experience discrimination everywhere.”

Police data show that in the first quarter of 2021, cases on Asian hate crimes in the United States had spiked to 164%. This is believed to be caused by rhetoric about the coronavirus’ origins in Asia and China. Several incidents have been reported in many cities across the country where Asians were subjected to random attacks. 

According to Olaes, it is at this time where Asian American communities and, in particular, Filipino American communities show strength as one.

“The results on Mary Rose Peralta and Jason Josafat’s permanent appointments is a win for our Filipino American community. It showed our strength when one of our own is affected, our community will answer to that call every single time,” Olaes added. ###

Watch the combined effort of the Filipino American community as they rally to Bring Back Principal Peralta to her position as high school principal.

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