CALEXICO – Hoping to be heard and seeking justice, dozens of parents attended Calexico’s city council meeting Tuesday evening to report alleged student abuse and misconduct involving a teacher at Rockwood Elementary School.
Parents, together with their children, expressed their anger towards the Calexico Unified School District, after the school’s lack of disciplinary actions against a Rockwood Elementary School teacher.
The group of parents attended a Calexico Unified School Board meeting on April 28, where the alleged accusations were brought to the council’s attention.
“I am here as a mother, a business woman, as a professional, and member of the community, to report and put a stop to the misconduct of this… teacher at Rockwood Elementary School,” said Tanya Guerrero, mother to affected son Ryan Chang. “I am not here to negotiate. The emotional and physical stability of our children is not negotiable.”
According to the allegations, students are being threatened, intimidated, embarrassed, and retained in a room for hours without notifying parents, in addition to suffering verbal abuse and corporal punishment.
“This has gone far too long and nothing is being done,” said Guerrero. “How many more cases will be reported before anyone takes action? How many children will be forced to leave their school and friends to avoid being abused, as if they were responsible? The children are the victims. You, as a council, need to take this matter and do what is best for the children in our community.”
According to Guerrero, she had met previously with the teacher on numerous occasions to discuss the issue only to be made fun of due to her inability to speak English correctly.
“It is not a coincidence that every time I would meet with the teacher, she would bully my son and say that no matter what we (parents) tried to do or say about her would result in nothing because she knew people who would protect her. It’s sad to think that elected school officials will accept bullying of innocent school children,” said Guerrero. “Our children are living in fear and mental stress and I will hold the School District accountable for all of this.”
Eleven-year-old Ryan Chang took the podium and spoke directly to the council and those present.
“I am student body president at Rockwood Elementary School and I want to say that we must not permit bullying or discrimination,” said Ryan. “I witnessed the teacher physically abusing a kid and how she humiliated my classmates and made fun of us because we have an Hispanic accent. I speak three languages, Spanish, English and Chinese and I am very proud to be Mexican, American and Chinese. I was one of the victims. I was afraid, but filled myself with courage and decided to speak up. This decision almost got me expelled from school and (I) was threatened to be removed as student body president. I was given a referral which prohibits me from taking leadership courses. Today, I speak on behalf of all those affected. It is my responsibility as a leader, while being an example to others. I want to go to school to study and play with my friends and prepare myself for the future. Don’t take away my dreams or lower my self-esteem. I want to feel loved, protected and accepted. Just like you (council members), I too, want to be a leader in the community someday, or even become the President of the United States. We are all special and valuable and deserve respect. I matter, we all matter.”
Erika Rosales, parent to another victim, also took the podium and described in length the trauma her daughter has been put through.
“We have gone to the police, the Calexico school district and the Rockwood School principal who have done absolutely nothing,” said Rosales. “My daughter would come home crying and saying she didn’t want to go to school anymore. She would describe how this teacher would harass and threaten the children. I got to a point where I had her transferred to another classroom. Subsequent to the transfer, the teacher took my daughter to the bathroom and told her that if she wanted, she could have her expelled or retained even though she was not in her classroom anymore. My daughter immediately called me and I met with the school principal who did nothing. In trying to make a police report, I went to the school to ask for a copy of my daughter’s file, to my surprise the file was empty. There was no documentation of the complaints and meetings we previously had with the principal, the teachers union representative, and the teacher, not even the report cards for the school year. The only thing in her file was a tardy slip and to top it off, my daughter was flunked. I am also here to ask for your help and hope that you can assist us in resolving this situation.”
From the date that the alleged accusations were made public by a few parents, the cases have increased to over 30, according to the parents.
Additionally, the County Protective Services, Calexico Police Department, Offices of Sen. Ben Hueso and the offices of Congressman Juan Vargas have been contacted, parents told the council.
Calexico Mayor Joong S. Kim instructed Calexico Chief of Police Reggie Gomez to look into the cases and meet with the parents.