Task group continues work on Hopi Mission School issues

(Mennonite Church USA/Mennonite Education Agency) — A task group convened to address concerns about the Hopi Mission School (HMS) — a K-8 school in Kykotsmovi, Arizona, affiliated with Mennonite Education Agency — continues to work alongside key stakeholders to plan for the school’s future structure.

The task group is also gathering names and stories from past volunteers to plan ways to continue HMS’s work into the future by building on positive relationships with past volunteers, the Hopi people and Mennonite Church USA.

The task group was convened in June 2014 to address the administration and financial activities of HMS. In June 2015, the task group sent a notice to the HMS school board, administration and staff, which included informing them that unless certain conditions were met by June 30, 2015, the organization as it is currently structured and operating would not have permission to use the Mennonite property on which the school is situated.

Since the task group sent this notice to the HMS school board, the task group has tried to contact the HMS school board and administration but has received no communication in return. The task group has continued to be in conversation with members of the Hopi Tribal Council, as well as Hopi leaders and nationwide supporters of the school — including parents, teachers, pastors and HMS volunteers — about next steps for the school.

The task group hopes to move forward without litigation. However, if the current school board and administration cannot produce documentation to make it clear that they are operating in an appropriate, transparent and fiscally responsible manner, the task group intends to move forward, using appropriate legal channels as needed.

“This is a very complex and difficult situation, and we are in conversation with many different stakeholders to think through next steps and how to move forward together,” said Carlos Romero, executive director of Mennonite Education Agency (Elkhart, Indiana) and chair of the task group. “But no matter what, we are committed to partnering with the Hopi community to continue to ensure quality Christian educational opportunities in Kykotsmovi.”

In addition, to celebrate the stories of people who have learned from and shared their own gifts among the Hopi people, the task group is gathering stories and information from Mennonite volunteers about their work with HMS. Individuals who have volunteered at HMS in the past or present can fill out a form about their experiences online.

HMS is located on land that was deeded to Mennonite Church USA specifically for the purposes of Anabaptist education and mission. The school was founded in 1951 to meet the interests of Hopi Christian families desiring alternative education for their children. Members of the task group include Romero; Ed Diller of Cincinnati (Ohio) Mennonite Fellowship; Paula Killough, advancement senior executive for Mennonite Mission Network, Elkhart, Indiana; and Carol Roth of Open Door Fellowship in Jackson, Mississippi.

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—Mennonite Church USA staff

See also Task Force recommends Hopi Mission School administrative restructuring (July 1, 2015).