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Shock, anger and tears

Main story: “Thousands” of answers changed

The scene outside Beach Court Elementary Wednesday evening was as gloomy and angry as the clouds gathering overhead.

When parents arrived shortly before 6 p.m. for a meeting with Superintendent Tom Boasberg, they didn’t know what they were going to hear. They’d been notified by automated phone messages Tuesday about the meeting, DPS spokesman Mike Vaughn said. About 40 showed up. Roughly 90 minutes later they emerged in ones and twos, then in small clumps. Reporters were not allowed inside the meeting, but several parents agreed to speak to journalists outside afterward. Many did not. Some were crying. Many were angry.

They’d just been told that their beloved principal, Frank Roti, stands accused of altering tests to change wrong answers to right, that he had been fired and that all the school’s test scores from 2010 and 2011 had been invalidated.

Their world had been shaken, and they were grappling with anger, denial, confusion and grief.

“It was emotional,” said Lori Sanchez, whose two daughters attend Beach Court. “There were tears. Anger. A lot of disbelief.”

Sanchez counts herself among the disbelievers. “I don’t believe it happened, but if it did, the Lord will work wonders,” she said. “Things happen for a reason.”

Nicole Vigil, who moved to the neighborhood from Arvada specifically so her 5-year-old son, Vince, could attend Beach Court, also left not believing that Roti had altered tests.

“I talked to Mr. Roti on the last day of school,” she said. “I would like to see the video of him doing it.”

She said if Roti is not the principal at Beach Court in the fall, her son wouldn’t be back. But if she’s convinced the allegations are true, she also wouldn’t send her son back. “They’re saying the last 10 years of us being one of the top schools in the country aren’t true,” she said “If this is not the school I thought it was, then I will be moving.”

Another mother, Jenny Woodson, said her daughter was one of seven students interviewed by investigators and that the experience was “taking its toll.” She, too, expressed shock and disbelief over the events of recent weeks.“Mr. Roti is the glue holding this school together,” she said. “Without him, I don’t know what will happen.” She said she did not believe that Roti was capable of doing what he’s accused of.

Amy Montoya, the mother of two Beach Court students, left the meeting calling for further investigation. She believes if test answers were changed, it must have been done by someone other than Roti. “How many people have keys to that office?” she asked. “It just doesn’t seem right.

“He came into this school and did something great,” she said. “He knows me by name. He knows most of us by name. He’s just not that kind of man,” she said.

Montoya said she’s unsure what to do now. She loves the teachers at Beach Court and credits the school for making her an involved parent. “But now there will be a new principal, and we’ll just have to see what happens,” she said.

Beach Court has 363 students in preschool through grade 5. Some 96 percent of the students are eligible for free and reduced lunch, and 96 percent are minority, primarily Hispanic. More information about Beach Court

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