By Gaige Davila
Point Isabel ISD (PI-ISD) band parents continue to plead to the district to address bullying, schedule changes and the resignation of longtime Port Isabel High School (PIHS) band director Scott Hartsfield, alleging nothing has changed since they brought up the concerns last week.
Port Isabel Band Booster Club members, consisting of band students’ parents and guardians, protested in front of Port Isabel High School this past Wednesday calling for Superintendent Theresa Capistran’s resignation, saying she lied to them about schedule changes and addressing targeted harassment towards band students. Moreover, they wanted her to bring Hartsfield back to lead the band program.
“For my son, he wants to be a (band) director, he wants to teach here, Mr. Hartsfield is his inspiration, his motivation,” Claudia Jimenez, a member of the PIBBC said outside of Port Isabel High School on Wednesday. Her son, who is a freshman at PIHS, plays percussion. Hartsfield was the lone percussion instructor at school.
“(Hartsfield) listens to them, every single day, he’s concerned about their thoughts and their problems at home and here at school,” Jimenez said.
She continued, “He cannot be replaced, he is the best that we can have.”
“Estoy muy molesta, porque es el último año de mi hijo,” Georgina Mendoza, who has had 4 children through PI-ISD’s band programs, including a current senior, said, noting the severity of the district being without a band director during a state year. She called Hartsfield’s resignation an injustice.
Rosa Montes echoed Mendoza’s sentiment.
“It’s not that there’s no other band directors out there that might need a job,” Montes said. “This is (Hartsfield’s) show. This is his show, he has to come back, (Capistran) needs to bring him back.”
PI-ISD released a statement later that day, saying they had resolved the scheduling, allowing students to do both band and football. This, PIBBC members say, was the initial reason Hartsfield became frustrated with the district. The PRESS has contacted Hartsfield for comment and is waiting for a response.
During the first week of school, athletics was changed from 4th period to 1st period, after PI-ISD Athletic Director and Head Football Coach Tony Villarreal requested it, sources inside PI-ISD told the PRESS. PI-ISD then changed schedules for PIHS students in both band and athletics, 14 in total, to follow a 3-2 structure: 3 days of band and two days of athletics.
Last week, PIBBC members, band parents and alumni criticized the schedule change during an impromptu meeting between them and Capistran on August 25. The chief criticism, they said, was why the schedule change was made in the first place, because it pressured students to choose one extracurricular activity over another. That same day, Capistran told the PRESS that 1st period was changed back to band only.
Port Isabel High School Principal Imelda Munivez verified to the PRESS that all schedules were changed this past Wednesday to band only. Students both in band and in a fall sport must practice before or after school, as arranged by their coaches.
PI-ISD’s statement did not address Hartsfield’s resignation. As of this article’s writing, no job posting for a band director has been posted on PI-ISD’s website. Munivez could not confirm whether they were actively seeking another band director.
PIBBC President Lorena Hernandez-Gonzalez, in response to the district’s statement, said Hartsfield resigned to “bring attention to these unfair changes in hope that changes are made.” Specifically, the parents want to see the band and athletics schedule as it was in years prior: band during first period, athletics during fourth period.
Hernandez-Gonzalez says because the schedule has not changed that way they have lost confidence and trust in PI-ISD’s administration.
“It is heartbreaking that the district has lost an outstanding band director for the administration to be willing to discuss the level of unfairness the students are suffering,” she said.
For PIBBC members outside PIHS on Wednesday morning, their frustration lies solely on Capistran.
“There was no change needed, we’ve been doing this for years,” Clifford Fleming, who has had three daughters in PI-ISD’s band program, including a current freshman, said. “(Capistran has) come in wanting to change the schedule and frustrated the band director.”
PIBBC alleged there is bullying occurring from athletics students to band students, which some members believe is coming from the coaches.
Capistran would not comment publicly on these allegations as of press time.
Editor’s note: This is a developing story.