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Community Digest

Compton : Latinos Confront Trustees, Allege Bias at School

April 29, 1993

A raucous group of about 20 students, parents and activists accused the staff of Walton Middle School and the Compton Unified School District of discriminating against Latinos. Their presentation of grievances at Tuesday's school board meeting was punctuated by shouting between some Latino protesters and other audience members.

School board President Kelvin Filer said the district would investigate specific allegations of wrongdoing and he asked protesting students to submit concerns to district officials. Some other board members questioned the validity of the complaints, calling them the product of outside agitators trying to create racial tensions.

The protesters accused several Walton staff members of making insulting remarks about Latinos. They also asserted that the school's dress code is enforced on Latinos, but not blacks. About half of the school's students are Latino, and half are black. Protesters also said that too few Latinos are taken on school field trips, and that the school lacks needed Spanish-language materials. In addition, demonstrators criticized the shortage of Latino and Spanish-speaking employees at Walton.

"We're being discriminated" against, said Walton Student Body President Maria Espinoza, one of the student leaders who led a demonstration at the school last month.

Other speakers at the Tuesday meeting drew jeers from some in the crowd of about 300 when they mentioned that they do not live in Compton.

District officials said they vigorously recruit Spanish-speaking and Latino teachers, but pointed out that there is a limited pool of applicants.

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