EAST SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) – East San Jose students are taking their anger to the streets in protest.
In the Alum Rock Union School District, students are getting a real world lesson in alleged government corruption and scandal. civics and social studies.
Hundreds of kids walked out of class to protest what they say is poor leadership within the school district.
The community says they have been trying to get the board’s attention for years
Aaliyah Harris, class president at Lee Mathson Middle School said, “Parents in the district, they want their kids to go to a beautiful school. Our school would be beautiful if they would give us the money that we need.”
They marched for two miles to the Alum Rock School District offices, to hold a rally before Thursday night’s board meeting.
Their message? Stop ignoring and start listening, or resign.
Adelita Ozuna, 13, said, “I’m not backing down any time soon, so for all those people who say I’m just a kid, I am just a kid, but I’m a kid who knows what’s going on and who wants to fight for what they believe in.”
Protest organizers are calling attention to accusations that real estate firm Delterra, based in Southern California, fraudulently billed the district for construction and project management services.
A county audit of the district last year concluded that “there is sufficient evidence to demonstrate that fraud, misappropriation of funds and/or assets, or other illegal activities may have occurred…”
Camille Llanes-Fontanilla with SOMOS Mayfair said, “There’s no oversight, they’re not listening to community voice, and we are finding that some of the projects that they’ve had in the works, just haven’t happened or they’ve been shoddy.”
The board president brushed those accusations aside.
Board President Esau Ruiz Herrera said, “It’s unfortunate that rumors take on a life of their own here. We’ve had some politically-minded adults repeating a false rumor and then repeat it and then repeat it, hoping that people will believe them. Those allegations are false, wrong, there’s nothing to back up those false allegations.”
Also turning up the heat on the school district is Mayor Sam Liccardo.
“We need to stand up together as a community, to ensure that we don’t allow this kind of misuse of public resources, particularly for a need as important as the education of our kids,” Liccardo said.
Their list of demands? They want the county board of education to exert maximum authority to try and keep this district from making any kind of fiscal or financial decisions, directly or indirectly. They also want the district to hold more open and transparent meetings.
Thursday night’s meeting began at about 5:30 p.m.