MALDEF Files Segregation Suit On Behalf Of Latino Children

Lawsuit alleges ESL used as a proxy to discriminate against minority students in Dallas public school

April 18, 2006

SAN ANTONIO, TX – Today, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), the nation’s leading Latino legal organization, filed suit in federal district court against the Dallas Independent School District (DISD) and the principal of Preston Hollow Elementary School alleging civil rights violations by segregating and discriminating against Latino schoolchildren.

The Latino parents represented by MALDEF, Organizaciün para el Futuro de los Estudiantes (OFE), allege that Preston Hollow illegally uses its English as a Second Language program to segregate Latino and minority students from Anglo students, irrespective of their language abilities. The documents in the case show that Latino students who are proficient in English are, nonetheless, channeled into classes masked as “English as a Second Language.” Preston Hollow organizes its general education classes and even combines some grades to ensure that Anglo students, who comprise just 18 percent of the school, sit in majority white classrooms.

“Fifty years after Brown v. the Board of Education, it is a shame that segregation continues to plague our schools,” said David Hinojosa, MALDEF staff attorney and lead counsel in the case. “Using ESL as a proxy to segregate schoolchildren can not be tolerated. This lawsuit is intended to send a message that there is no justification for any school to treat Latino students any differently than white students,” Hinojosa added.

Ms. Lucresia Mayorga Santamaria, lead plaintiff and mother of three children attending Preston Hollow, stated “The school attempted to omit Latino children from the school brochure because they did not want the surrounding neighborhood to get the wrong impression. Well, I hope they all get this impression: we will not stand by any longer because our children deserve the same opportunities as all other children of Preston Hollow.”

Calling on the leadership of Dallas ISD to now answer Latino parents’ calls for justice, Mr. Hinojosa added, “We condemn efforts such as these to keep white students together for the sake of deterring white flight. We call on the superintendent and the Dallas Board to swiftly end the segregation at Preston Hollow,” Mr. Hinojosa added.

For all media inquiries, please contact Laura Rodriguez.

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund