Naschitti — Central Consolidated School District has extended an invitation to meet with Gallup-McKinley County School to discuss bus transportation.
At the start of the school year, GMCS started bus service into Naschitti, which is in San Juan County, to pick up and drop off students who resided there and attended schools in Tohatchi, located in McKinley County.
After the two parties met with tribal officials in Window Rock, GMCS stopped the service Sept. 17 and returned to transporting students to and from the county line.
During Tuesday's special meeting, the CCSD board decided to ask GMCS Superintendent Frank Chiapetti and GMSC board members to meet either Oct. 17 or Oct. 22 to discuss the transportation issue in hopes of reaching a compromise.
The board decided on the joint meeting after board Vice President Lupita White and members Hoskie Benally and Randy Manning expressed disappointment in how board President Matthew Tso and Superintendent Don Levinski handled the situation.
White said according to board policy, the board should discuss issues between CCSD and outside school districts to reach a cooperative agreement.
"My concern is that we did not have a joint meeting with Gallup-McKinley County Schools. We should've had a joint meeting and have a discussion in regards to this matter," she said. "It seems like the meetings were being held by Mr. Levinski and Matthew Tso, attending all these meetings on the reservation, and the board hasn't been updated."
Benally said he was unaware of the bus transportation issue until stories appeared in local newspapers.
"I agree that when something comes up like this it should be coming to the board as a whole," he said. "But it seems like it's between the superintendent, the board president and the attorneys, and we get cut out of the whole loop."
Manning concurred with White and Benally but wanted to know why parents were enrolling their children in GMCS, rather than keeping them in CCSD schools.
"Have we gone and said, 'Why are you doing this?' There's got to be a reason that they all of sudden ask Gallup to come get them and take them to school in Gallup," he said.
Levinski listened to Manning's question and then said those reasons should be discussed in executive session.
In a Sept. 3 letter to the New Mexico Public Education Department, Chiapetti stated that parents "elected" to have their children enroll in GMCS because of safety and because it was convenient for some parents to pick up and drop off students on their way to and from work in Gallup or Window Rock.
On Wednesday, Chiapetti confirmed receiving the invitation from the CCSD board. He said it would be up to GMCS board members to decide which day to meet with CCSD.
"That's what we wanted from day one," he said.Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @nsmithdt on Twitter.