Parents Should Not Have To Struggle For Information About Public Meeting In the Fresno School District

I recently visited a School Site Council meeting at my daughter’s middle school, and let me tell you, it was quite an obstacle to obtain basic information about the meeting such as the date, exact time, and location. After several failed attempts and receiving distorted information, I learned that the school staff had this firsthand information with detailed information about the meeting and failed to provide it to us in a timely manner. I was told by the office staff at the school to call the school a week before the scheduled meeting date and ask for meeting details because information was unavailable two weeks before. I thought of parents who work and have to ask permission to get time off ahead of time, how is this fair to them?

Since I wanted to plan out my week, the next day I figured I would try again, this time I asked my daughter to speak for me (since I have an accent) to find out the SSC meeting details. My daughter was told all meeting information was on the official school website. I started to search for information about this particular meeting, and to add to my frustration, the only information that was posted was on past meetings. Any parent in my place would have given up, or perhaps felt what I felt, the school had no desire for parental involvement at this meeting, or maybe the SSC attendees who were on the agenda were the only ones who were supposed to benefit from the meeting. Because of all this hassle, now I knew that I wanted to attend the meeting and find out which topics were going to be discussed.

So I insisted by calling again, and this time I asked speak to someone in Spanish. It took four days to speak to someone in Spanish at the school office. It was then when I obtained the date, place and time. The obstacles don’t end HERE! On Sunday night, I get a recorded phone call with a message from the principal where he mentioned that the meeting will start at 3:00 PM and not at 4:30 PM as Elvira told me. All of this miscommunication made me angry!

Imagine the ordeal that it took for me to obtain a date and time for a meeting scheduled that had been scheduled for months. Then I began to think, “Why wouldn’t the school allocate funds to hire staff who are professional, bilingual, and willing to connect with parents in a courteous manner?” Keep in mind more than 50% of families in this district are Spanish speakers. My thoughts did not stop there, barriers to prevent parents from being involved and informed are far too common, and this is unjust!

It was a challenge be there for me, but I made it to the meeting. I needed hear the school board members’ plans for the year and follow up on answers for my list of questions posed to the principal months ago. As expected, the principal was not ready to see me, and again he was not prepared to answer my questions, as always he blamed this on the “irresponsibility of other teachers.”

It seems once the school administrators and school board members know you are an inquisitive parent who wants questions answered, they categorize us as a “pebble in the shoe” and want to avoid us. As engaged parents, it is a challenge to stay motivated and move forward after experiences like this. It is also very frustrating to feel displaced and not welcome at your own school. Even though I have experienced this unwelcomeness first hand, I still show up, I still encourage all parents to continue the fight and not to stop until we see necessary changes being made. It is all for the success of our children, if we do not show up and demand answers and demand change, it won’t happen.

I encourage fathers, mothers, grandmothers, aunts or any member of the community to join our fight and not stop until our voices are heard, enough with the silence!

What do you think?

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Alicia Aleman

Alicia Aleman

Alicia Aleman migrated from Mexico 13 years ago. She is a first generation college graduate in her family, and holds a degree in child psychology with a focus on education, personal development, and leadership. For two years, Alicia worked for parents groups at several school districts such as Madera, Kerman, Sanger, and Fresno, all projects of the PIQE organization, Parent Institute for Quality Education.
Alicia is the mother of three children, who attend schools in the Fresno Unified School District.

Alicia’s passion is to empower everyone who has a burning desire to conquer his/her dreams and leave a positive impact on future generations. Her personal philosophy is to "Never let anyone tell you that the sky's the limit when there are footprints on the moon..." Her dreams and aspirations include to empower one million Latino families to find their personal liberation so they can develop their full potential as human beings".

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