A LETTER TO SYLVIA CAMPOY

Campoy

 February 10, 2015

Dear Sylvia,

Thanks for coming to Casa Maria.

I think we fundamentally disagree with you on some main themes, but talking with you and Terry Higuera really helped us think about desegregation and how we as parents and the larger community can move forward to advocate and organize for a more just TUSD. Ultimately it’s all about better educated kids.

We understand that no matter what is just or unjust, right or wrong, there is a court order that exists. But it is only a court order, not a commandment that came down from heaven.

We would like you to do whatever you can so that the $63 million a year in desegregation (or whatever the exact number is) goes towards having strong effective magnet schools in areas suffering from poverty, no matter how integrated the schools are.

We sincerely believe that it is not possible or realistic to expect all these schools to become integrated.

There are simply not enough white kids.

Equity in schools, equity in academic achievement District-wide is our priority.

Trying to write grants or beg the District to shift Maintenance and Operations funds around to accomplish this, feels unacceptable to us.

However, we did hear what you suggested regarding “good faith efforts” at integrating our magnet schools, and we are contemplating how we could accomplish this, especially in regards to our participation in developing the comprehensive magnet program plan for Ochoa.

We also liked your input on Charter schools and how we might aggressively battle them for students, so as to increase integration and make public education better for the children.

Thanks for adding us to your list and we look forward in collaborating with you in the future.

Brian Flagg, James Ojeda, Cesar Aguirre, and Gilberto Contreras

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  4. Brian, James, Cesar, and Gilberto:

    Thank you for your letter. I was pleased to have the opportunity to meet with you and your invited guests to share information about the desegregation case from a perspective other than that of the Respondent (TUSD) in the desegregation case. As you have stated in various venues, including in your letter to me, you fundamentally disagree with the Unitary Status Plan (USP) on some “main themes.” I respectfully believe that such sentiments may have evolved from both a lack of a broader and more encompassing context about desegregation, as well as misinformation with which you have been provided.

    In an effort to clarify some critical points, I am providing the following information.

    First and foremost, the USP was jointly developed during the course of approximately one year and jointly stipulated on February 19, 2013 by all of the parties in the case: the Respondent –TUSD and the private plaintiffs and the plaintiff US Government. The Governing Board took official action to approve the USP. TUSD provided student demographic data for the time period during which the development of the USP took place (2012-2013). The Special Master was involved throughout the process. Moreover, desegregation experts, consulting with each of the parties, were also involved in providing research-based input during the USP development. These facts are pivotal, since there exists some level of confusion over these critical truths.

    Notably, there remains some level of fallacy about the integration requirements; that they are ‘impossible to meet’ and that they are nothing more than ‘a numbers game.’ These fallacies have evolved from the time of the magnet school forums, which took place early in the 2013-14 school year.

    Relative to magnet schools, the Mendoza Plaintiffs have repeatedly articulated the position that TUSD must fully support its magnet schools. It is now two years into the implementation of the Unitary Status Plan and the support provided to magnet schools continues to be most questionable- in part- based on information provided to me by parents. As one of the magnet school parents expressed during our meeting, the school principal, faculty and community are not involved in the school’s budget (planning or otherwise). It was also noted that after the beginning of the school year, magnet school budgets were cut.

    I understand the concerns articulated about Ochoa. As was noted by several of you during our meeting, year after year, Ochoa has been the target of threatened school closure. The Mendoza Plaintiffs have historically been involved in opposing its closure.

    I am clear on Brian’s and Cesar’s expressed concerns over the integration requirements. The requirements were, of course, as above referenced, discussed and agreed upon by the all of the parties. For these reasons, it is difficult to appreciate why there has not been more focus in supporting the magnet schools in addressing both the integration requirements, as well as academic achievement.

    In the late 1970’s magnet schools were borne out of the desegregation litigation based on the premise of both racial/ethnic integration and equal access to quality educational programs. Due to lack of clarity and full support of these principles, the Mendoza Plaintiffs must once again defend these fundamental elements on behalf of students and, once again, witness a loss of precious time as TUSD fails to aggressively take the needed action to meet the integration requirements and fully supporting the magnet schools.

    These type of delays (apparently based on disagreement with stipulated requirements within the USP as well as an overall failure to implement strategies to further both integration and academic achievement in the magnet schools) have failed to show good faith and raise the question of whether the District is moving forward in a way that will satisfy the Court that it has eliminated the vestiges of its past discrimination and can be released from judicial oversight. As recently as January 16, 2015, in an Order entered in the desegregation case, the District Court judge reiterated that “a Magnet Plan is not a funding mechanism; it is a mechanism to improve integration.”

    It is my hope that with an open dialogue between us, the Casa Maria position will shift to one that supports the fundamental principles (themes) of desegregation and the effective implementation of the Unitary Status Plan. Though the USP is not a “commandment from heaven” as your letter states, it reflects many values and mandated actions which promote:
    ~the just treatment of all students – especially those who have been treated in a diminished
    manner within a school district which has not rid itself of the vestiges of discrimination;
    ~truth/transparency (through the provision of facts and monitoring); and
    ~action-based respect/honor for parents within a system which serves their children- through
    programs and procedures that are truly inclusive of parents. These are but a few examples.

    I anticipate that this has provided you with a wider and deeper context about the TUSD desegregation case. Again, I am grateful for the invitation to meet with you and your guests – all parents. Also, I appreciate the allowance for my guest to attend and she too has asked that I convey her gratitude.

    My best,

    Sylvia Campoy

    Copies: Attendees

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