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Some 100 Delhi Middle School students peacefully walk out to protest principal’s layoff

About 100 Delhi Middle School students walked out of school in protest Wednesday morning.

They were upset that their Principal Dave Woods’ position was cut from the district’s budget the night before.

At 10:30 a.m. Wednesday about 200 middle school students tried to leave their West Schendel Road campus and walk to the Delhi Unified School District Office on Hinton Avenue, — about a mile away.

But they didn’t get that far. “They were corralled by Merced County Sheriff’s units and returned to campus,” said Merced County Sheriff’s Deputy Tom MacKenzie.

During the school lunch break at 11:40 a.m., a smaller group of kids tried to walk out again. This time they were successful. “They just bolted across the street,” said Woods.

The principal said that 50 to 100 students made the trek to the district office, hoping to speak to Superintendent Bill Baltazar about losing their principal. “I went to the district office and talked them down,” Woods said. “I told them this was not the way to show support of their principal.”

Woods was able to get the students onto a bus and returned them to campus, MacKenzie said. “It’s over — they all complied,” Woods said. “We’re going to move on.”

The principal at Delhi Middle School for the past five years, Woods said his position was cut by the district board at its Tuesday night meeting because of budget constraints. Michael Horwood, Delhi High School’s principal, will oversee both campuses next year. In the meantime, Woods said he will be looking for a new job.

A similar walk-out occurred in October 2005 when then-Delhi High School Principal George Grijalva was fired at a school board meeting. The next day, 550 high school students walked to the district office to speak with Baltazar. Woods said his middle-school students were in elementary school during that walk-out, “but I’m sure it filtered down.”

No students were arrested or hurt in either of the walk-outs.

Reporter Abby Souza can be reached at 209 385-2407 or asouza@mercedsun-star.com.

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