AP NEWS

Santo Niño names new principal after gun threat

May 16, 2019

Robin Chavez, the assistant principal at Gonzales Community School, will take over as principal at Santo Niño Regional Catholic School for the 2019-20 school year, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe said this week.

Chavez will succeed Dirk Steffens, who is leaving the school after one year for personal reasons, said the archdiocese’s schools superintendent, Susan Murphy.

Controversy erupted last week following Steffens’ handling of an incident in which an 11-year-old Santo Niño student told two classmates that he was going to bring a gun to school. Steffens filed a police report in which he told investigators that he would handle the incident internally but wanted it to be documented.

In the police report, Steffens said he would meet with parents of students at the school to address the issue and their concerns.

Murphy said Steffens, who was hired in April 2018, was on campus Friday but did not return to Santo Niño this week for personal reasons. Murphy also said Steffens announced his plans to leave in March.

“He told us he would be leaving before spring break. He was not removed from his position over any incident,” Murphy said. “I don’t think he will be back this school year. He said he had to deal with family issues.”

Chavez, who will start work at Santo Niño on July 1, said she applied for the job in March before receiving and accepting the job offer Friday.

Chavez has worked at a handful of schools in Santa Fe over the past 25 years. She started her education career as a language arts, communications and theater teacher at Santa Fe High and spent 11 years there. Chavez has been an assistant principal at Santa Fe High, El Dorado Community School, Capital High, St. Michael’s and Gonzales, and she was the principal at Alameda Middle School for two years before it closed in 2010.

“At a private school, you have a lot of autonomy to make decisions without red tape, but also don’t have the same big support system behind you as public school. There are tradeoffs, but I’m looking forward to working in Catholic education again,” said Chavez, who spent seven years at St. Michael’s. “The biggest thing I want to look at is our enrollment. We want to bring more families into our school. I think getting our message out to the community will be my first job.”

Before this school year, Steffens said in an interview that Santa Niño has around 250 students between prekindergarten and sixth grade.