Marianas High School mathematics teacher John Raulerson made an emotional plea to the CNMI State Board of Education to help review his case after he was issued a non-renewal notice.
Raulerson is a mathematics teacher at MHS and is the coach of two-time Real World Design Challenge National champions Aeronautical Dolphins that earned them a top ranking right now at the RWDC. They were also given two national merit awards and has represented the Pacific region five times in Washington, D.C.
He was given a chance to talk to the board in the public comments portion of the BOE’s regular meeting at the Pacific Islands Club in San Antonio yesterday. PSS employees and other members of the community packed the Napu Room since the meeting is open to the public.
MHS principal Cherlyn Cabrera issued a memorandum on July 7 informing Raulerson that his contract won’t be renewed sighting Policy 60-30.3-164, which states that the Public School System “will notify employee in writing at least 90 calendar days in advance if it intends to not renew employee’s contract with the PSS.”
“This letter serves as your non-renewal notice of your employment contract with the [PSS] effective from the date of this memo. Your last day to report to work will be Oct. 5, 2016,” said Cabrera on the letter.
“The PSS will notify employee in writing at least 90 calendar days in advance if it intends not to renew employee’s contract with the PSS. The Notice of Personnel Action for separation and clearances will be processed accordingly,” added Cabrera on the letter.
There was no reason stated on Cabrera’s letter why she decided not to renew Raulerson’s contract at MHS and this surprised the mathematics teacher since he helped in putting up the Aeronautical Dolphins, a program that won two National championships and five Pacific Region titles in the Real World Design Challenge.
BOE chair BOE chair Herman T. Guerrero advised Raulerson to put his concerns in writing. “Mr. Raulerson, is it possible that perhaps you can put a lot of those things in writing to us? We would appreciate it. We know your concerns about the policy in place.”
Still the BOE allowed him to speak and finish whatever he wanted to say. No other speaker stood up to raise their issue in the public comments after Raulerson.
Raulerson said he doesn’t like the policy after he helped coach two MHS Aeronautical Dolphins teams to win national titles against states that have larger populations compared to the CNMI. The BOE and the CNMI Legislature also honored him for guiding the kids to win national titles that brought pride to the CNMI.
“I put my heart and soul into this place. I helped these kids get to the national finals, won two national titles, and then just got kicked out of the system like I’m a piece of toilet paper. I love these kids. All I’ve been is about these kids. Now, why give these awards, but I’m not that good enough for this particular policy? It is unfair.”
He added that 12 different members of their team had received $50,000 each of scholarship money, the same kids that put on a lot of work in reaching the RWDC national finals five times—which is a rare feat with the CNMI being one of the few.
Raulerson said that he was told to sign up for this year’s RWDC competition and he has also looked at the challenge. “So why am I told to sign up, when you’re telling me that after Oct. 5, I got to leave. I don’t understand it and it’s hypocritical.”
He then thanked Public School System Commissioner Dr. Rita A. Sablan for helping save the Aeronautical Dolphins program. “They were about to shut down the program in 2011 but Dr. Rita Sablan stepped in said ‘no, you can’t do that.’”
“By her action that you see these two national titles, merit and other different type of awards. And she’s the reason,” said Raulerson, who added that he wanted to remain at MHS.
“We have Ann Margaret [Norcio] who wants to go to Harward. Robert [Malate], who is not here, wants to go to Princeton. Masrur [Alam] is on his way to [Massachusetts Institute of Technology] due to the program that he’s been part of that won a national title in Science-Technology-Engineering-Mathematics, and he’s an intelligent and humble young man,” said Raulerson.
“The PSS is for Students First and that’s what I’m about. There’s no city or state in the U.S. that have two RWDC national titles. The CNMI has two.”