Although the findings of a federal investigation that said a had been assigned to a Larchmont kindergarten class provoked a swift and contentious debate between Mamaroneck parents on the Larchmont Patch site, others in the Mamaroneck community say that issues of racial disparity—particularly among the Latino population—have been simmering on a low boil for years.
“Neither Guisela [Marroquin] and I are surprised. It has been in the making for a very long time,” said Luis Quiros, a community activist, author and social worker.
Both Quiros and Marroquin, director of the (CAP) in Mamaroneck, work closely with the Latino population in Mamaroneck to try and bridge the divide between a diverse group of students with unique needs and a “one size fits all” approach to learning.
“This describes the core culture, the foundation,” said Quiros, adding that the District is misguided in thinking that “race neutral” policies that ignore differences—a term mentioned in the District’s letter to parents about the incident—are effective.
“You have to be race conscious,” argues Quiros, continuing, “It just tells you how uninformed they are on these issues.”
Quiros, who is president of Padres Unidos High School—an independent group for Latino parents that meets at —filed a formal complaint with the District in April 2012 over what he said was an effort by school administration to force his organization to become a Parent Teacher Organization (PTA). Doing so, he said, would stifle the open dialogue and discussion that took place without the presence of school administration. Additionally, as a PTA, parents without children currently in the school system would not be able to participate, limiting the ability of parents of very young children to learn from those that are currently navigating the process.
“As a public school, we should be able to meet with faculty so we could talk openly…the PTA can meet there, why can’t we?” he said, adding that it was a breach of the First Amendment right to free speech.
At press time, the Mamaroneck School District had not responded to a request for comment.
But, for Quiros and Marroquin, who both continue to fight for equal educational opportunities within the Latino community, there needs to be more than a superficial change in policy.
“If the school doesn’t change its professional mindset, it’ll never change,” said Quiros.
“Now that we’re under the eye of the legal system, now is the time to perform surgery,” he said.