The memories, say those who knew the 14-year-old, are just as poignant.
Former teachers remembered Ramiro as a smart kid who loved art and wasn’t afraid of sharing his opinions with others. But as an investigation continues into the boy’s death from an undiagnosed cancer that investigators say his parents left untreated, the loss gnaws at those who say he will be missed.
Mandela International Magnet School Principal Randy Grillo said Ramiro’s death is hard on staff and students already facing challenges as they switch to online learning.
“Kids are just struggling right now,” Grillo said.
Ramiro’s parents, Maria Urias-Astorga and Ramiro Miranda-Quinonez, were arrested by Santa Fe police last week, each charged with one count of child abuse resulting in death after they were accused of failing to obtain potentially lifesaving medical care. The boy died in an Albuquerque hospital late Thursday, three days after his parents took him to Presbyterian Santa Fe Medical Center when he complained of having difficulty breathing.
Both Urias-Astorga and Miranda-Quiñonez were released Monday from the Santa Fe County jail on $10,000 unsecured appearance bonds. According to state court records, these are their first criminal charges.
As news of Ramiro’s death filtered through the schools he attended, teachers recalled a boy who seemed happy and determined.
His former art teacher at Mandela, Susanna Mireles-Mankus, said Ramiro was on the school’s chess team, studied Chinese and took classes at the National Dance Institute.
“He really enjoyed working in his sketchbook regularly, and he had a really good group of friends in my class,” Mireles-Mankus said.
Miranda-Urias was engaged in the classroom, she added, and was focused on improving his skills as an artist.
Grillo said Ramiro’s mother was very involved and had been since he attended Sweeney Elementary School.
At the time of his death, school personnel were in regular contact with his parents, said Santa Fe Public Schools Superintendent Veronica García.
García did not respond to questions Tuesday about whether anyone within the district knew Miranda-Urias was sick prior to his death or if anyone had reported him being ill during the previous school year.
Grillo said he counted 15 emails between himself, teachers, the boy and his parents since school began online Aug. 20.
“The school was very proactive with all of its students, including Ramiro,” Grillo said.
Mireles-Mankus said the boy was present for about the first week of class, but she did not see him on camera. García said students are sometimes allowed not to appear on camera.
According to the arrest warrant affidavits for the parents, Ramiro became so ill he had to be carried from room to room and had stretch marks on his body indicating rapid weight loss, as well as a bedsore on his tailbone. Doctors discovered a large tumor on the left side of his body.
Although Urias-Astorga told a Santa Fe police detective she first noticed the stretch marks on her son’s body in December, it remains unclear exactly how long the boy was exhibiting symptoms of his illness before his parents took him to the hospital.
His mother also said she had not taken him to see a doctor in two years because the family did not have Medicaid, according to the affidavits. She also said he began experiencing pain in his knee and hip about one month ago, while his father said the pain started about two or three months ago.
The hospital in Albuquerque alerted the Albuquerque Police Department to the potential of abuse, according to the arrest warrant affidavits.
The first report of potential abuse was submitted to the state Children, Youth and Families Department on Sept. 8 by an anonymous source, CYFD spokesman Charlie Moore-Pabst said in a Tuesday interview.
The agency will be conducting its own investigation into the boy’s death, he added.
The attorney for the boy’s parents, Nathaniel Thompkins, did not return phone calls Tuesday.
Grillo said the school had grief counselors available for Mandela students Monday and Tuesday, as well as a session just for school staff.
“It was healing, it was really difficult,” Grillo said of the session. “But it was really good.”
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