Hopi Mission School problems prompt restructuring plan

Jul 2, 2015 by and

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Mennonite Church USA Executive Board has informed the Hopi Mission School board, administration and staff that the organization does not have permission to use the Mennonite property the school is situated on.

On July 1 at the MC USA convention, Carlos Romero, executive director of Mennonite Education Agency, announced actions being taken to address problems at the Kykotsmovi, Ariz., school.

Hopi Mission School is a K–8 school affiliated with MEA and located on land deeded to MC USA for Anabaptist education and mission. The school was founded in 1951 for Hopi Christian families.

An MC USA task force stipulated that, should the school board and administration refuse to cooperate with the task force and to show that they are operating in a transparent and fiscally responsible manner by June 30, MC USA would restructure the organization.

The task force was formed by the Executive Board to gather information, including allegations of financial misconduct and deteriorating connections between the school board, the Hopi Mission School Foundation and several MC USA agencies.

The task force presented a list of recommendations to the school board and staff in early June.

The recommendations asked the board and administration to cooperate with the task force on audits and strategic planning that would address concerns about financial dealings and structure.

“One message that we want to say loud and clear is that Mennonite Church USA is committed to the Hopi Mission School,” said Romero, who chairs the task force, in a news release. “We believe this is a valuable ministry, and we have no intentions of walking away. We want to walk alongside the Hopi Mission School to ensure that its legacy of quality Anabaptist education continues.”

The task force’s report, issued in April, also included the following recommendations:

  • Until further notice, MC USA individuals and congregations should not make donations directly to Hopi Mission School; all donations for the school should be directed to MC USA or to the Hopi Mission School Foundation.
  • Further conversations will take place with the school board, Hopi Nation Tribal Council, Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Arizona Department of Education about the school.
  • Effective June 30, the Hopi Mission School organization, does not have permission to use the Mennonite property unless the administration cooperates with the task force on requests for reforms and information.

The task force had many conversations with school staff, board members, community members and others. Members of the task force included Romero; Ed Diller of Cincinnati (Ohio) Mennonite Fellowship; Paula Killough, advancement director for Mennonite Mission Network, Elkhart, Ind.; and Carol Roth of Open Door Fellowship in Jackson, Miss.

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