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Is Central School Incident Symptomatic of Greater Discontent in Mamaroneck Schools?

A Mamaroneck community activist reacts to a federal investigation of Central School in Larchmont.

 

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.

 

BG7 September 14, 2012 at 08:41 PM
While Mr. Quiros may be eloquent, and certainly involved and energetic, he is not trying to "bridge a divide". Quite the opposite, he is a zealous advocate for one group. There's nothing wrong with that, especially when its a disenfranchized group. No canonization just yet, single group-interest is the motivator here. There is a reason many people he represents came to live in Mamaroneck - because of the safety and good schools it provides. Now he wants to change the schools. "You're great. Now change!"
BG7 September 14, 2012 at 09:05 PM
I've just read the letter. I'm not sure why your giving so much one-sided prominence to such - but the letter is enlightening. In a description of a meeting, Mr. Quiros mangages to emply the imagery of marching, invasion, trenches, "European ships". Notably, he didn't use the term Conquistador. Mr. Quiros' inflammatory rhetoric is helping bridge a divide? Or is he just playing to the home crowd? s
Stefani Kim September 14, 2012 at 09:33 PM
Hi BG7, I've asked the school for their comment, but they have not yet responded. Best, Stefani
Tom Murphy September 14, 2012 at 11:33 PM
Dear BG7, If when you call Mr. Quiros eloquent you mean incomprehensible,I agree. There are really two extremes to this issue one is represented by Mr. Quiros who doesn't recognize any of the progress and effort the community and the schools have made at being more inclusive. The other is the school district that is failing to admit an obvious problem and reacting in a typical administative cover their own rear ends fashion. There obviously was an issue in Central school kindergarten classes the chances of that "anomaly" happening two years in a row to the same teacher are huge. (I leave the math of that to someone better educated then me). The district's putting out a cockamamie youtube video is hamhanded and belies the written OCR report that we can all read. Frankly it is insulting. What this problem with Central school illustrates is that we have issues that still need to be addressed. That doesn't mean that we haven't made progress or that we are an uncaring community. My experience has proven to me that this is indeed a loving and caring community especially where kids are involved. But we are a community that is in transition, how we handle that transition going forward will really reveal our true character. I am very hopeful for our future. The real hero of this story is the Mom who had to courage to stand up for the rights of her child. We all owe her a thanks for pointing out the problem. It is up to all of us to see that it doesn't happen again.
jc September 16, 2012 at 12:17 AM
While I agree with Mr. Murphy that this community can be loving and caring, it is also completely invested in the status quo. Lip service is paid to liberal ideals while anything that is seen as possibly creating an obstacle to their own child's achievement is anathema. Until people are honest about their concerns, we will get nowhere. Can you imagine what would happen if we mixed the elementary school populations up? Wouldn't that be an education! It will never happen because people here like to talk the talk but do not have the courage to walk the walk.
Truth&Clarity September 16, 2012 at 10:35 AM
I'm shocked at the CAP center directors' comments. Read a post on The Loop at all Central has in place for "Hispanic" families & has done for YOUR CAP center! I was led to read your article because of it. Read the OCR report, It found Central was race-neutral & the inconsistencies found were an attempt to fulfill parents' requests (Latinos included). It also found that another class had a greater number of boys. Create a male racism case as well! I'd rather a class be educationally balanced for optimal learning, than just balanced for race. Should we let a high achieving minority be denied an AP class & put in a special needs class because the special needs class is mainly white? BTW-when doing placement NO INFORMATION OF RACE/ETHNICITY is given, so how could they have segregated a class? Can't say they used last names; can you tell me the ethnicity of Mr. Jones or Mrs. Smith?. The minorities referenced WERE NOT ONLY Hispanic. This article is trying to imply it's a Hispanic issue. (It involved only a few Hispanics, the majority were other minorities.) Furthermore, when did the CAP center become only for people of Latino heritage? I thought it was for ALL COMMUNITY members is need. Poor, white and other minority families use CAP center's help. The mom had motives behind her actions. Make the bridge, don't tear it down. Racism may exist in the area & sad if it does, but it is NOT at Central and is NOT the true purpose of this mom's case!
Cadeyrn September 17, 2012 at 10:40 AM
"While Mr. Quiros may be eloquent ..." No. He's not eloquent. He's a wannabe activist who's been searching for a cause for decades. If he's a bridge builder then Attila was a tour operator. Quiros is no more interested solving an issue than he is capable of flying. These schools have made great effort to educate all students ... and that's hardly an unworthy effort. Quiros has lived a life aggrieved ... always unhappy with whatever. Pay his small mind small mind.
Paula Scharf Kohn September 30, 2012 at 11:05 PM
Luis Quiros might have received an MSW degree, but he isn't licensed as a NYS Social Worker.
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