In Compton, Parent Trigger Supporters File Intimidation Charges With U.S. Department of Education
Two parents in Compton have filed complaints with the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights. They charge that intimidation tactics have been used during the ongoing Parent Trigger battle to take over a chronically failing school in the Compton Unified School District.
Parent Revolution organizers Shirley Ford and Mary Nareja (center) with McKinley Elementary parents
The parents, Marlene Romero and Hebert Hidalgo, filed the complaints last Friday, and charged that teachers at McKinley Elementary have been trying to intimidate their children.
Compton Unified acting superintendent Karen Frison released a press statement, saying the district has "zero tolerance for harassment."
Herbert Hilgado, who has worked closely with the Los Angeles-based education reform group Parent Revolution, which has led the effort to organize parents and help them use California's Parent Trigger law to take over McKinley Elementary School, writes in his complaint:
"My son, Angel Sanchez, got to his classroom late one day in December 2010 because he was in the bathroom. His teacher, Dr. Miranda Pesa, sent him to the office. The office sent him back to class. Dr. Pesa then said to Angel that his parents are there complaining about education but can't get him to class on time. She said to Angel that his parents have a big mouth and that they're crazy. Since then my son has said he no longer wants to be in her classroom."
Marlene Romero, who has also worked with Parent Revolution, writes:
"A CNN reporter came to my house in November 2010 to talk about the charter school. My son, Ivan Hernandez, heard us talking about charter schools and said we shouldn't support them. After the reporter left, Ivan told me on the way to school that he hated me because I was changing his school to a charter which would be a bad thing according to Ivan's teacher, Mr. Victor Tellez.
"In December 2010, Mr. Tellez asked to speak with me when I was at Ivan's school. In his classroom, Mr. Tellez told me that he'd worked in two charter schools and did not like them. He said the head of one charter school spent $600 of school funds to buy shoes. On Youtube, Mr. Tellez said I would 'regret having supported Celerity when your child is rejected by them.'"
In December, L.A. Weekly published the cover story "California's Parent Trigger," which gives an exclusive, behind-the-scenes account of how parents and organizers worked together to use the Parent Trigger in Compton.
Parents are seeking to replace McKinley Elementary with a charter school run by the Celerity Educational Group.
Contact Patrick Range McDonald at firstname.lastname@example.org.