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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • Nikki

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

  • Christine

    Thanks a lot Los Angeles Times

    • sunny

      family should sue l.a. times for slander.

      • Allen

        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!

      • Come on, people

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

        It’s called logic people.

      • Barry Jenks

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

      • Bill Terrence

        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.

      • YahooFan

        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.

      • MPG

        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.

  • adriana z

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

  • Osvaldo Avelar

    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.

  • JB

    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.

    • Mario

      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.

      • Danny..

        I Agree,Also Agree With Sunny

    • OA

      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.

  • Ms. Meneses

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

  • Jay

    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.

  • http://reallygoodancestors.wordpress.com Donna

    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.

  • Marco

    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.

    • pa

      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.

  • Kristy

    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?

  • notlovinLA

    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?

  • ogscor

    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.

  • Mario

    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.

    • MPG

      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.



  • Gail

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

  • ilos

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

  • Mary

    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.

    • YahooFan

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

  • chuy

    l Los acompano en su dolor senores Ruelas Ramirez



    • Joseph C

      You will need to take a basic English class.

  • Rigo's cousin

    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. : (

  • john k.

    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?

  • pbj

    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.

    • pbj

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

      • Rigo's cousin

        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.

  • Alex

    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

  • 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.

    • Kerry

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

  • His Brother

    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.

    • M Garcia

      Is this his brother Alex?

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