Original URL: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/news/archive/2003/09/17/state1223EDT0071.DTL
Lodi Parents Sue District for Denying
September 17, 2003
Parents of children enrolled at an elementary school here have filed a lawsuit
accusing the Lodi Unified School District of discriminating against Latino
families after officials allegedly punished their children and discouraged
The lawsuit alleges Latino students suffered unfair punishment, such as denying
the use of bathroom facilities, when disciplined. Parents who complained about
the problems were ostracized and faced retaliation, the lawsuit said.
They seek an unspecified award and want the school district to comply with
requirements of a consent decree forged several years ago with the government
regarding bilingual services.
"The goal of the parents is very simple -- that the school district complies
with the law and treats them fairly," said Joel M. Murillo, who represents
Gloria Nava and Alejandra Esqueda in the complaint filed in the U.S. District
Court's Eastern District on Tuesday.
School district officials declined to comment, but said they have made strides
to provide bilingual education.
Latino parents on Tuesday held signs calling for educational fairness at a news
conference announcing the lawsuit. The announcement coincided with Mexican
Independence Day, which was being celebrated at Lawrence Elementary School,
where Latinos comprise 70 percent of the student population.
"It had to be done so they don't treat us the way they did," said Ramona
Cervantes, who has three children at Lawrence. "We'll see if we get their
Last November, parents picketed in front of Lawrence and a district building
protesting a lack of minority teachers and alleged insensitivity toward
Spanish-speaking students. Administrators met with parents to try to resolve the
issue but families said they were still unsatisfied.