Union: Low Ranking Factored Into Teacher’s Suicide

SOUTH GATE (AP) — Teachers union officials say a Los Angeles-area teacher who killed himself had been despondent over his ranking as a “less effective” teacher by the Los Angeles Times.

South Gate Teacher Jumps To His Death: KNX 1070’s John Brooks Reports

Mathew Taylor, chair of the United Teachers Los Angeles South Area, said Monday that colleagues of Rigoberto Ruelas Jr. at Miramonte Elementary reported he had been upset over the ranking.

The Times in August published the rankings of how effective Los Angeles elementary teachers were based on their students’ test scores.

Ruelas’ body was found Sunday in the Angeles National Forest. Sheriff’s investigators say he jumped off a bridge.

The union has called on the Times to remove the rankings from its website.

In a brief statement, The Times extended its condolences to the family and noted the death is under investigation.

(© Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


One Comment

  1. Nikki says:

    That’s horrible. I had hoped they would have found him alive and well. My condolences go out to his family.

  2. Christine says:

    Thanks a lot Los Angeles Times

    1. sunny says:

      family should sue l.a. times for slander.

      1. Allen says:

        Sunny is absolutely correct! The Times is culpable and must be forced to not repeat this assault on the dignity of conscientious citizens in civil service!

      2. Come on, people says:

        Why? Other teachers got lower ratings than he did and they did not commit suicide.

        It’s called logic people.

      3. Barry Jenks says:

        Slander cannot be brought against the Times if the information published is accurate. Unfortunate but true.

      4. Bill Terrence says:

        Bill Terrence

        It’s not sue for slander, it’s sue for libel. Slander is spoken falsehoods, and libel is written published falsehoods. Be that as it may, God Bless the family during their time of sorrow.

      5. YahooFan says:

        With all due respect to the family members of the deceased, the LA Times did not slander anyone. The newspaper published information that is already available to the public.

      6. MPG says:

        Ok, wait, he kills himself over a bad rating? No one else thinks other things were wrong with this guy? Bad marriage, was in the closet or anything else? I mean if that’s what you all say, shouldn’t there have been like a dozen teachers with him, jumping of that bridge? Something was obviously wrong with him. You all blame a newspaper? For doing nothing more then showing some concern over students, when no else has done anything about it. LA teachers union uses this to help make the report disappear and all back to status quo? I’m sorry for this guy, who happened to be a teacher decided that he needed to terminate his life. Other professional have done so without the “help” from the LA times or anyone else. He obviously had issues. I’m sure being a bad teacher didn’t help, presumed to be that is. He didn’t show much by taking the easy way out. As a human I’m saddened, as a parent I wouldn’t want him teaching my kids how to give up.

  3. adriana z says:

    My condolences go out to his family, friends, students and staff of Miramonte Elem, We will miss you Mr. Ruelas.

  4. Osvaldo Avelar says:

    Mr. Ruelas was a dedicated teacher. The whole school loves him. The Times is damaging and stressing teachers. Please write to the Times and let them know what they did to this excellent teacher. All his students were English Language Learners and he had to deal with discipline issues.

  5. JB says:

    I find it ironic that teachers’ entire careers are devoted to giving students “grades”, yet when they, themselves are “graded”, they can’t handle being told their work is considered sub-par.

    The Times is damaging and stressing teachers by evaluationg their performances? Absurd.

    Committing suicide because you didn’t get a good “grade”? Ridiculous.

    1. Mario says:

      How can an outside entity that has no significant knowledge of the inner workings of the educational system come in and grade anyone. There are just too many factors to weigh in when attempting to do such a potentially disastrous analysis. No one knew what the potential outcome of that report would be.
      When you tell someone that what they have done is good for nothing especially when they have given their heart and soul to that particular job it is devastating. What the Times did was not “grading” it was a stupid attempt to boost sales and anyone who believes that they did a good job obviously has no idea of how the educational system works.
      There is no irony here because the Times had no idea what it was doing but, the damage that they did was substantial even before this tragic event.

      1. Danny.. says:

        I Agree,Also Agree With Sunny

    2. OA says:

      There are outside forces that exert an influence in student achievement. Lack of funding for facilities, leadership at the school, income and education of parents, segregation, racism, language, etc. Got the idea. It;s not just the teacher’s fault. His relatives have indicated that he was felling stressed out at work. News have indicated a link between his suicide and the publication of added value measurement in the times which is based in the California Standardized Testing, Popham, a reseracher of standardized testing, asserts that these tests measures mostly intellingence (60%), and items that are not usually taught in the classroom to create score spare.

  6. Ms. Meneses says:

    Mr. Ruelas was a dedicated teacher and will be miss @ Miramonte. May your soul rest in peace.

  7. Jay says:

    Thank goodness they did not commit suicide. This is a very dear friend of mine and he took his job very personally. He impacted those kids in tremendous ways. He taught them so much, including real life skills. How can the times really continue to publicly shame teachers. Do they even take into account the types of students each teacher gets? He was the teacher who always had new arrivals from Mexico but they still must take the state test. The score didn’t measure how he was getting his students ready for our new technological age. So, there is more to a teacher than just one test score that isn’t even accurate.

  8. Donna says:

    There are too many variables that go into a teacher’s real worth in the classroom, which the Times cannot quantify. Public humiliation is not the answer. Professionals who have spent their entire adult lives dedicated to the education of children have been marginalized. Parents are a child’s first teacher. Let the teachers score THEM. I wonder if those report cards would be published.

  9. Marco says:

    My condolences go out to his family and students. But I agree with the other poster and question whether suicide was the correct message to send his students. Before finger pointing starts towards the LA Times…..lets take into account maybe other factors that may have been involved in his decision. No others committed suicide as a result of the published information.

    They don’t mention a wife or kids.

    1. pa says:

      He may have been dealing with other issues and the published information was the straw that broke the camels back. No one knows why he chose and/or decided to take his own life however, it was not something he took lightly since he did inform the school to find a substitute to teach his class on Monday and Tuesday. There’s also the possibility it may look like he took his life when in fact he did not….some times when something is so “obvious” one tends to “miss” the “facts”. and/or “clues”..just a thought…something to consider…not everything is black and white in life.

  10. Kristy says:

    While I’m sorry the guy died I think that blaming the L.A. Times for printing an article that tries to shed light on the mess of the Los Angeles educational system is pretty ridiculous.

    My question would be why was a man who was apparently so disturbed that he would do something so drastic over a newspaper article teaching kids in the first place?

  11. notlovinLA says:

    It’s very sad that this man’s life is over and that his students will miss out on his teachings, but how is it possibly the LA Times fault that he decided to take his own life? It’s not. When are we going to be responsible for our own actions?

  12. ogscor says:

    I’m sorry for the loss of his loved ones but this is not LA Times’ fault. They have an obligation to publish this news for the benefit of the whole. Freedom of speech people. Remember that. It is ridiculous to read all the pointing fingers at someone, in this case the press.

    I have no sympathy for people taking their own lives. It’s selfish, stupid and what a coward way of getting thru life. I don’t care what kind of problems he has. Everybody has problems and he chooses the selfish and coward way out of it. I feel sorry for the students. Some example he is.

  13. Mario says:

    Mr. Ruelas was a great educator who poured his heart and soul into his job. He was completely dedicated to his profession and his children. I am not saying that the report posted by the L.A. Time was the reason why he may have committed suicide. However, I am saying that it may have been a contributing factor. Imagine giving your all to your job, a community that admired and looked up to you and then to have something like that slammed in you face. I think that would affect anyone.
    Also, parental response to the report could have also contributed to him becoming distraught.
    The Times had no right to do that because it was a report that was compiled using only one criterion. How do we know where academically his students were when he got them at the being of the year? I am not making excuses all I am saying is that there are multiple factors that must be taken into consideration before such an article should be published.
    The Times is supposedly doing a service well in my opinion and in the opinion of many others who had the privilege of working with him. The Times just did the greatest disservice to the Miramonte community. The Times should be held accountable because of the slanderous assault on not only Mr. Ruelas but on many other teachers who may be in the same situation. They need to remove that report as well as publicly apologizing and admitting to the flaws in that report.
    I would go as far as to boycott the newspaper because in their attempt to boost their sales they may have cost someone’s life.

    1. MPG says:

      Have you even read the article and how the information was compiled? Probably not. Please go and read how the numbers were obtained. They weren’t from one year alone. I liked that the times did something to show what we all know is true. Student achievement actually declines with some teachers. While resources and community play a factor, its inexcusable to blame the numbers and say well they don’t matter, what are we teaching our kids then? How do you recommend we weed out bad teachers, or are you saying there aren’t any bad teachers? Sorry, there are, more then at most other school districts.

  14. HASMIN says:


  15. Gail says:

    If this teacher taught in Irvine, he would have had higher test scores due to the correlation of test scores and parent income.

  16. ilos says:

    what a terrible lost. thanks latimes. my hear goes off to his family i am very sorry. he was a very dedicated teacher

  17. Mary says:

    The Times cannot rate a teacher’s worth on test scores alone. One teacher was ranked high, but she screams at her students, can’t keep control in her classroom, and couldn’t care less about her students well-being and self-esteem. One was ranked low, but her classroom is orderly, her students well-adjusted, independent, and are taught to use their time wisely.

    1. YahooFan says:

      The Times did not rate the teachers. The published information that is already available to the public.

  18. chuy says:

    l Los acompano en su dolor senores Ruelas Ramirez



    1. Joseph C says:

      You will need to take a basic English class.

  20. Rigo's cousin says:

    I feel very deep pain in my heart for losing my cousin, Rigo. I last saw you over 10 years ago at our grandmother’s funeral. We all commented about how we only see all our family at funerals. I wish our family would see each other more often. I remember playing as kids. It really breaks my heart that now we’ll see each other, but at your funeral. Please everyone, reach out to a long lost family member or friend before it’s too late. Rest in peace my cousin and friend. You will be sorely missed. : (

  21. john k. says:

    he did not have a bad score on LATIME.com. did they find note that said he was stressed about the scores, or are they just assuming that?

  22. pbj says:

    This is was a suicide…He was murdered… there were other people involved in his death…authorities may say it’s suicide but sometimes, some evidence is gone unoticed…he was murdered.

    1. pbj says:

      I want to make a CORRECTION…..THIS WAS NOT ( N O T ) a suicide….HE WAS MURDERED!

      1. Rigo's cousin says:

        pbj, I’m Rigo’s cousin and my family can’t believe that he took his own life. Who could have killed such a great man. Was he pushed? Did my aunt Cuca, his mother have anything to do with it? Please let us know or tell the authorities.

  23. Alex says:

    Please, just cause he was well liked does not mean he was a good teacher. If he really was a good teacher then he would have fixed what he was doing wrong to get that rating in the first place.

    Plus i doubt this was the reason why he killed himself, if so then he wasted his life

  24. Bill Terrence says:

    It’s not sue for slander, it’s sue for libel. Slander is spoken falsehoods, and libel is written published falsehoods. Be that as it may, God Bless the family during their time of sorrow.

    1. Kerry says:

      THANK YOU. I wish people would stop misusing those terms.

  25. His Brother says:

    He couldn’t fix the mal nourished kids
    He couldn’t fix the gang/drug infested community he taught in.
    He couldn’t fix the neglectful parent of his kids.
    He couldn’t fix the people we as a society have chosen to ignore and discard.

    1. M Garcia says:

      Is this his brother Alex?

  26. FRANK says:


    1. Tea Party Patriot says:

      Hey Frank,
      You have nothing better to do? Maybe you should jump off a bridge. It’s a shame your mother gave you birth. You just another average so called human. I would love to meet you in an alley.

  27. notlovinLA says:

    This was clearly a suicide. What, the investigators don’t know what they’re doing? It’s quite clear that this man had other issues in life that caused him to take a leap off a cliff. I seriously doubt the new grading system for teachers had anything to do with it. If it did, then how pathetic. Maybe it was the straw that broke the camel’s back, but the ONLY person or people responsible for this man’s death is Mr. Ruelas. Period.

  28. CARLTONDAN says:


  29. RedDonnaAnn says:

    As a former LAUSD employee and UTLA member, I blame them. Here was a dedicated, willing teacher who they should have helped become a better teacher. The brass at the top of those orgs make plenty of dough, so there’s money for it.

    I also blame parents. I have never seen such rampant apathy as I did when I taught east of the river. Virtually nobody cared about excellence. It was sad. The kids were willing but the district and the parents just worked too hard against them.

    Poor man. Untreated emotional issues are awful. And the poor kids. Now they could end up thinking this is their fault. Shame on the LA Times.

  30. David says:

    Parents need to take responsibility for their lazy, disrespectful kids instead of put blame on teachers!!! Not the teachers fault that a parent isn’t doing their job at home!

  31. EastLATeach says:

    I agree with REdDonnaAnn and David posts: Its the fault of LAUSD, LA Times, UTLA and Parents! UTLA essentially works for LAUSD, sycophants.

  32. to the family says:

    My condolences to the family. No one should have to lose a loved one so early.

  33. concerned says:

    Damn!! I love teachers! This is sooo very sad! but WHY????

  34. MPG says:

    Ok, wait, he kills himself over a bad rating? No one else think other thing were wrong with this guy? I mean if that what you all say, shouldn’t there have been like a dozen teachers with him, jumping of that bridge? You all blame a newspaper? For doing nothing more then showing some concern over students, when no else has done anything about it. LA teachers union uses this to help make the report disappear and all back to status quo? I’m sorry this guy, who happened to be a teacher decided that he needed to terminate his life. Other professional have done so without the “help” from the LA times or anyone else. He obviously had issues. Im sure being a bad teacher didn’t help.

  35. Irma says:

    My condolences go out to the Ruelas family, friends, and students. My prayers will be with you! Mr. Ruelas, you will be missed!!!

  36. Nacho mbt toy says:

    Que el descanse en paz, y su familia encuentre consuelo y resignacion.
    Mi muy centido pesame para su hermano Alex, su Mama y Papa.

  37. NM says:

    MPG, I agree with you. This is why teachers need to have psychological evaluations regularly. This guy was headed to life in a rubber room if he didn’t end it himself.

    In order to ensure our students safety we need:

    1) Back ground checks on teachers
    2) Annual psych evaluations.
    3) Random drug tests.
    4) An accurate way to hold teachers accountable and are actually teaching.
    5) Removal of tenure in the way we know it.

    1. mark says:

      Maybe YOU need a pyschological exam and maybe a heart check– to see if you have one!

      1. NM says:

        So trying to insult people makes you a much better person?

        If there was a psychological evaluation it might have saved his life and helped improve both his own life and his teaching career.

        But you know, trying to improve society means you are heartless, right?

  38. Rebecca says:

    People who commit suicide are THE MOST SELFISH people. This is probably why he was a poor teacher. He didn’t care about his students just like he didn’t care about his family and friends. He was a bad teacher and the truth hurts HE made the SELFISH choice to commit suicide.

  39. Mark says:

    What a sad tragedy. My sympathy to his family, friends & staff at Miramonte. I knew Mr. Ruelas as I was a teacher at Miramonte for 10 years. He was even my TA for one year. He was great with students & very peresonable with staff. The Times IS culpable — they’ve had an anti-teacher & teacher union agenda for years! This “value-added” BS is I’m sure stressing-out teachers as IF teaching in south-central LA isn’t stressful enough.. I know! And all you heartless jerks who still bash teachers need to get your sorry arses in a classroom & teach before you open your ignorant mouths.

  40. ALICIA says:


  41. DW says:

    Don’t jump into conclusion this quick! UTLA will try to make you to believe in whatever they say. Only the wise will know they are full of hot air. They’ve just shot themselves in the foot. If what they say is true, it’s frightening to see they are protecting teachers who cannot make adjustments in life. Is it what we called “teach by example”? Should we shut down all media who report unbiased facts?

  42. ray says:

    his low rating was based on his student’s test scores. A teacher’s effectiveness can’t really be measured by his student’s test scores. A teacher can be effective and enthusiastic but he can only lead a horse to water, he can’t make it drink. Who knows what the education level of his students were prior to his becoming their their teacher. Hi might have been responsible for drastic individual improvement in his student’s learning and test scores, but the students’ test scores still could have lagged behind their peers. A student’s test scores can only tell you something about the student. They do not necessarily reveal anything about the teacher. btw, I am not a teacher and i’m not employed in the educational system. So, all this being the case, the Times could have been irresponsible in publishing those rankings since there’s no provable link between the teacher’s effectiveness and the student’s test scores.

  43. Ivette Yanez says:

    Rigo (mr ruelas) wasn’t only a great teacher but also a great person. My cousins grew up with as I did too. I got to meet him not only as a friend but as a family member too. We will always miss him n will be remember for his help,laughter and his great advice. RIP rigo ruelas my mom n my self will never for get you. U made a difference in our lives n how he would say “si se puede”

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