Latino group shake-up stalls school boycott
The Arizona Republic
Jan. 18, 2005
Betty Reid

SOUTH PHOENIX - Plans to protest a beleaguered principal at Maxine O. Bush Elementary School came to a screeching halt last week, the result of a shake-up in a high-profile Hispanic activist group.

John Ramos, president of the League of United Latin American Citizens South Phoenix Council, said plans for Latino parents to pull their students out of school in a temporary boycott would happen later and with better organization.

LULAC had given Roosevelt Elementary School District leaders and administrators a Jan. 12 deadline to remove Waldorf Jenneford as principal of the school. The organization blames Jenneford for not stopping what they say is "continued violence" and bullying of Latinos at school.

Plans for the parent protest were halted by a high-level shake-up in LULAC.

Silverio Garcia, LULAC's state education chairman, suddenly resigned last Tuesday.

Garcia, who had complained about the treatment of Latinos in Roosevelt, stepped down after LULAC's national executive board suspended Samuel Esquivel, the organization's state director, for holding secret meetings and engaging LULAC in a lawsuit without permission from national executives.

"It's unfortunate what is happening to the national LULAC organization. It affects all children," Ramos said. "A lot people didn't like Silverio's work because he was exposing a lot of south Phoenix school problems.

"He was bringing justice to where justice was needed."

Garcia said Wednesday that he won't abandon plans to boycott Bush Elementary. As education chairman of the Arizona Hispanic Community Forum, he said, plans are still in the works to ask parents to pull their kids out of the classroom to protest Jenneford's employment at Bush.

Garcia said the decision by the national LULAC to suspend Esquivel slows some of his work, but he said he refuses to vanish from public view.

He said when he calls Bush Elementary today, he will ask whether Jenneford is still the principal. If the answer is yes, he said he will meet with Bush parents to discuss when the boycott should occur and the most effective way to "pull those kids out."

"We want the school shut down," he said. "But we need to talk to parents first and see what they want to do with the kids."

Ben Miranda, a district governing board member, disagrees with the boycott. He said complaints about students' treatment should be forwarded to the parental concerns committee for Bush School.