Principal Lauren Topek Yanked from Shadowbriar Elementary by HISD

Categories: Education

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Photo courtesy of Edwin Humerez
Antonia Rivas

Lauren Topek, who we wrote about three weeks ago in a column about the death of the school's custodian, Antonia Rivas, is out as principal of Shadowbriar Elementary, effective immediately, Houston ISD announced today.

In a letter sent home to parents, Sam Sarabia, HISD's chief school officer, said Topek is being placed "on special reassignment" as of February 20 and that, until her successor is chosen, Suzanne Sutherland, a retired HISD principal, will serve as interim principal.

Sarabia gave no reason for the sudden change -- highly unusual during the school year -- but as outlined in "A Little Respect," teachers, other staff and parents were upset with how Topek had operated in the school since arriving in May of 2011.

Parents complained she had initiated meaningless changes that did nothing to improve academics at the school, constantly brought up the fact that she had a degree from Harvard, and was not open to discussion with them about their concerns.

Things came to a head after the death of the 69-year-old Rivas, a longtime custodian at the school who -- while filling in for the injured head custodian -- worked four 16-hour days in a row at the school before suffering a brain aneurysm at her church.

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Teachers were upset and several staff members blamed Topek -- fairly or otherwise -- for making Rivas work so many hours before the Christmas break. Two of Rivas's grown children said their mother was afraid to turn down the extra hours, fearing that Topek might fire her.

Staff members also pointed out that Topek had little experience as an assistant principal before becoming principal and thought she was not up to the job. They said she created a tense atmosphere at the school, and that employees were frequently written up.

Topek declined to talk with us at the time we were researching the column. A town hall meeting had been scheduled for tonight at the school.


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34 comments
xena999
xena999

Wow iam just now reading the story that is good they got rid of her.. people think having a degree from harvard makes them special  yea she was special stupid they forgot to teach her how to talk to adults in a professional manner thank God she is gone the school is so much better w/out TOPEK 

FFerruzzo
FFerruzzo

In reply to Curious,I had no intentions of retiring.  If Ms May remained as Shadowbriar's principal, I would still be there and so would those who retired along with me and those who left.  When one is not treated with decency and respect, the need to exit arises.FF, former Shadowbriar SIM Specialist

FFerruzzo
FFerruzzo

In reply to Lit, who commented 2 days ago,Before you make a statement, make sure  your facts are correct.   As for the running record, the SIM Specialist was NOT fired.  She retired after 29 years of service to HISD.  I should know, because I was the SIMS Specialist.  Where did you get your information??  FF, former Shadowbriar SIM Specialist

Bell
Bell

SO...where is Topek now???? I hear she has been assigned to Bell Elementary. WHY???? And what is she doing there? Somebody needs to find out. If anyone knows someone at Bell, PLEASE do write and let us all know what the hell Topek is doing at Bell?

failed
failed

According to HISD here is what Patsy Cavazos is being PAID to do:

As a school improvement officer for elementary schools, Patsy P. Cavazos is responsible for helping principals to create high-quality instructional teams and programs focused on student academic growth, to establish and achieve bold and measurable goals, and to work with their school communities. 

Well, it appears that Patsy Cavazos FAILED to do her JOB???????????

TOP SIO
TOP SIO

TOTALLY agree, Cavasos should be held just as responsible....She is the one who hired Topek knowing that Topek had NO experience...and when people complained, she turned a deaf ear...Yes, she is also just as GUILTY!!! But I have heard that Patsy is Sam Sarabia' s TOP SIO....so ,,,,,

BLUE
BLUE

In my opinion, Cavasos SHOULD  be canned next!  She is worthless and has no heart!!!

LMFAO!
LMFAO!

TOPEK GOT EXACTLY WHAT SHE DESERVED!!!! HAHAHAHAHAHA..... HAHAHAHAHA..... HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA..... HAHAHA...

OMG... I CANT STOP LAUGHING!!!!! HA!

HOW SWEET IT IS!!!!

HAHAHA..... HAHAHA.....

What's that?.... Harvard, you say?!!! BWAAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

worthy
worthy

NOW Lauren Topek can really feel what she made others feel....incompetent, worthless, not worthy of their jobs, etc. Guess whose laughing now, Ms. Topek? All of US :-)

HOOT
HOOT

I hear that LAUREN TOPEK is on Special Assignment . LOL. What a HOOT!!! If I know anything about HISD, she is going to be on Special Assignment with HISD's cheaters and sex offenders....HAHAHA!!! Maybe somebody should tell HARVARD :-)

Kgdanc
Kgdanc

She was a bully - glad she's gone

Guest
Guest

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Lola
Lola

Celebration? And what will that entail? White sheets and wooden crosses? Because if Lauren Topek was removed February 20th, the mistreatment of African American and Latino American children will resume promptly on February 21st. Now go run and tell your PTO to spread that!

knowthestory
knowthestory

The celebrations have begun--pray that HISD can get someone in place that works well with both parents and teachers.

Cj
Cj

Well I can praise God that he led me away from Shadowbriar before all of this mess. It's just horrible...

Curious
Curious

So what did you think of Topek?

Txlindatx
Txlindatx

Permanent cafeteria duty?... That would be too high an assignment after the shambles she left at Shadowbriae!

Naemkh
Naemkh

Agree, Patsy Cavazos should go of....as they say in management, we hire people who are like us...

Monster
Monster

Yep. Patsy Cavazos worked with Sam Sarabia and they are thick friends. Yes, Patsy knew what Topek was doing...and...did NOTHING at first...Once Topek got out of control, by then it was too late for Patsy Cavazos to stop Topek....after all Topek was the FRANKENSTEIN MONSTER that Patsy Cavazos had created .

callherin
callherin

Agree, that Patsy Cavazos shoud be held responsible. Maybe Shadowbriar parents should hold yet another meeting with Sam Sarabi and Patsy Cavazos and DEMAND to know why Patsy Cavazos stood silently and watched. 

Alex Garcia
Alex Garcia

Ms. Topek got what she deserved, my child is a Latino who has been in the school for 2 years, the first year was such a positive experience with Ms. May and then Ms. Topek took power and immediately the culture changed from the school pledge, to the eliminating of incentives for the straight A students like my son. My wife and I have spoken to Topek on 2 occasions and both times she was arrogant and condescending, I just hope that the district thinks long and hard about her future which I believe should not include a leadership position. BTW Ms Cavazos you should have acted months ago but you did nothing....

Piperdgarcia
Piperdgarcia

My child is of Latino decent and she surely did him NO favors; however, this has nothing to do with race!! This has to do with someone in a Leadership position abusing her authority and treating others in a disrespectful, often condescending manner... this kind of behavior usually comes back to haunt you. I just hope she is humble enough to learn something from this experience and grow from it.

rharris
rharris

Since when was race any part of this? WTF are you talking about, Lola?? You couldn't get a clue during the clue mating season in a field full of horny clues if you smeared your body with clue musk and did the clue mating dance.

Now put your race card away, you big dummy.

guest
guest

WOW - why does this have to turn into a race issue?  Do you have specifics that you can note?

rharris
rharris

I celebrate for the students, teachers, parents, Rivas family, and the entire Shadowbriar community. Topek was bad for everyone. Peoples lives, and careers, were harmed by her cold-blooded, egotistical, dictatorial personality and leadership. Good riddance, I say.

I pray that everyone damaged by her will be able to heal and recover some sense of normalcy to their lives and/or careers.

Arnoldmla
Arnoldmla

How sad!  I am not happy that Ms. Topek is gone.  I had an issue with Ms. Topek.  I took her to a private place and we had a discussion.  I no longer had an issue.  I am grateful for the way she treated me and my family.  I wish her well.  

Michele Arnold   

Lit
Lit

Let's keep a running record: Topek fired the SIM Specialist, the school secretary retired, an administrator LEFT after two weeks, the second administrator WANTED to leave BUT Patsy Cavazos forced her to stay, one teacher was LET GO off in the very first week,.....should I even go on? WHAT A TRACK RECORD!!! Did Topek's superiors NOT see the trends????? THEY HAVE TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY.

HUMILITY does NOT even come in play here. 

Guest
Guest

Wow! You are really upset Rharris. Name calling and everything (funny). I stated my opinion, as did you. If your response to issues is similar to the one above ("clues, mating season") maybe you were part of the problem too.

Lola
Lola

I know that the classes look more "multi-cultural" then they EVER have. On any given day last year, you could see multitudes of students of color in the office because they were "in trouble."

follow her
follow her

Arnold, this is beyond you and me. It is about the ENTIRE school and the ENTIRE communiyt. If she was good to you and you only, then by all means follow her. I am sure wherever she is , she is in need of company. Because NO ONE wants to be near HER.

Remember, school is NOT about the adults. It is about the kids, their education, the atmosphere...etc. You were able to hash out your issue. You are probably a MINORITY.

rharris
rharris

My response and reaction, LOLa, is to you implying that people at Shadowbriar are racist (not funny). My opinion of you for stating that opinion is that you are FOS. You, and people of your character, ARE the problem.

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