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Update: Farmington Municipal Schools tight-lipped about teacher departure

Student walkout meets resistance and suspension; theater teacher’s behavior in question
Meeting off-campus with local reporters, Farmington High School sophomore Shiann Wilson expresses her concerns about the recent termination of two teachers. (Curtis Ray Benally/Special to Tri-City Record)

Farmington High School sophomore Shiann Wilson was left Friday with no answer from the school as to why theater teacher Dallas Padoven left the school on May 8.

English teacher Victoria Acosta also was let go, Wilson said.

After students sought answers from school administrators, she used social media to organize a student walkout that instructed students to wear black and meet by the flagpole in front of the school at 8:30 a.m. Friday.

A Tri-City Record reporter entered the front doors of the school and was met with a number of administrators, including Principal Rocky Torres and Superintendent Cody Diehl.

Administrators lined the entrance with doors shut while students were inside.

Torres declined to comment about the walkout.

Wilson and four classmates left the building from a side door but were ushered back inside by administrators.

A student walkout organized by Farmington High School sophomore Shiann Wilson was set up for 8:30 a.m. Friday. However, district administrators blocked student demonstrators at the entrance, preventing them from leaving. (File)

Before the walkout, Wilson said she approached Torres to ask why Padoven was let go.

“We have a right to know, it’s our school, too,” she said. “We go here, we spend a lot of time here, and these are the people we’re supposed to trust.”

Wilson has participated in theater for the school year doing makeup and costume.

“He pushed us to be the best people we could be,” she said.

Since his departure, Wilson said the theater class feels uncomfortable and the instruction is not always theater-centered.

“We’re just watching videos and answering like three to five questions,” she said.

Wilson said she sees a teacher shortage at the school with substitutes often appearing in multiple classes a day.

“The principals here really do need to step up their game,” she said.

Wilson said students are suspended and it’s not a resolution for change at the school.

“They really need to start sitting down with the students and talking to us because suspending us isn’t doing anything,” she said.

Later that day, Wilson’s mother received a phone call from Assistant Principal Rocky Moore about a possible suspension, reportedly sayaing that Wilson was being loud in the halls as she walked out, said Wilson’s stepfather, Leroy Valdez.

The family requested Torres call them, to which he never did, and they will learn more on Monday, he said.

That Monday, May 13, Valdez got a call from Moore confirming the suspension for two days on the grounds that she was disruptive during school hours.

Wilson said she missed her chemistry final and her family never heard from Torres.

Shiann Wilson, a Farmington High School sophomore, organized a student walkout on Friday that was met with resistance from district administrators. (Curtis Ray Benally/Special to Tri-City Record)

FMS declined an interview request from Tri-City Record about the two teachers who were let go.

Tri-City Record obtained three case reports about Padaven from the Farmington Police Department.

They tell a different story regarding his relationships with several students.

On Jan. 1, 2023, an officer answered a call made by Torres about an incident in which Padoven allegedly bit a student in the FHS theater in front of the stage, the case report said.

Torres interviewed Padoven before the officer’s investigation. According to the report, Padoven said he put his top and bottom teeth on the student’s forearm but did not bite down.

It was not reported until another person reported it to their guardian. The student’s parent was notified, and the parent notified Torres and requested an investigation from the school and law enforcement.

In the case report, camera footage of the incident showed that the bite lasted two seconds.

Interviewed by officers, the student initially denied it happened and changed the story multiple times.

Padoven claims in the case report that the class was participating in an acting improv game, but the officer expressed doubts after looking at the footage.

The student did not include any other uncomfortable situations or out of school interactions with Padoven. They described his demeanor as “professionally friendly but more friendly than professional.”

Padoven apologized to the student days later, and the student said they felt more uncomfortable thinking about the incident days after it occurred.

On Aug. 1, an officer was asked to look into a possible harassment case involving Padoven and a former student.

The student had been transferred to another school at the time of the interview because of the harassment, according to the case report.

On one occasion, Padoven had asked the student’s parent to give them a ride home. The parent did not give permission.

According to the parent, there was a final exam that included sexual language the students needed to use. The student verified this during the interview with law enforcement.

The student had texted Padoven on two occasions while on holiday break and Padoven had texted him back.

In the case report, the parent described Padoven as “acting too comfortable and treating his students like adults instead of like students.”

The officer advised the parent to request the school investigate the employee.

Padoven and Acosta did not respond to inquiries made by Tri-City Record regarding their departure.