Gilbert Quiroga

Gilbert Quiroga had been driving buses for the Patagonia schools for 37 years when he was told, at the end of the school year in 2013, that his contract would not be renewed. Despite the testimony of many parents and colleagues to the school district’s governing board, Superintendent Denise Blake did not change her decision to let Quiroga go. [See the PRT’s July/August 2013 issue for story.]

Quiroga, who believed he was let go unfairly, sued the school district for wrongful termination.

It has taken two and a half years for this case to be resolved. During that time Quiroga says he has suffered from anxiety and depression. “This almost killed me,” he said. “I didn’t even feel comfortable going to my grandson’s basketball games.” He added that he’s always had a way with kids and that he saw them as his “ministry.” Not being able to greet his school kids each morning and say goodbye in the afternoon made him feel useless.

The case concluded as a out-of-court settlement in December 2014. When Quiroga returned from settlement negotiations in Phoenix, he said he felt that a huge weight had been lifted from his soul. Under the terms of the settlement, Quiroga is not allowed to divulge how much he will receive or talk about the case in any way. He is, however, delighted that his life is back on track and he can feel fine about going into the school gym to see his grandson play basketball for Patagonia Regional High School.