Supt. Tom Giugni has agreed to meet with representatives of a coalition of Latino organizations to discuss their demand that the school board initiate a comprehensive five-year plan to deal with the problem of Latino school dropouts.
"The magnitude of the problem is catastrophic," Ramon Cruz told the school board at its regular meeting Monday night.
A former school board candidate, Cruz is education committee chairman of the local League of United Latin American Citizens, which was instrumental in forming the coalition. Representatives of several organizations--including LULAC, Long Beach Area Citizens Involved, the Chicano Political Caucus and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund--addressed the board.
"If this problem were to continue," Cruz said, "we may expect a severe decline in the overall quality of our schools and the economic viability of our local neighborhoods."
Although national and state studies indicate that as many as half of the Latino students in California and the nation do not complete high school, studies on the number of Latino dropouts in Long Beach have never been done, according to district spokesman Dick Van der Laan.