At last week’s school board meeting, Hayward superintendent Dale Vigil said something remarkable, in response to recurring allegations of racism at one of Hayward’s elementary schools. He said he’d visited the school, and could absolutely verify that there was “no racism” at the school.
My first reaction was laughter, quickly followed by a deep sense of sadness. How could any American, much less an American of Hispanic descent, assert that there is a school here where there is no racism?
At an earlier board meeting, Dr. Vigil insisted that any complaints about a specific school should not be raised with his office nor at a board meeting, but should be addressed at the school “site” level. Dr. Vigil has made it very clear that he won’t hear complaints about racism at a Hayward school.
Suddenly, I understood Hayward’s signs that proclaim “No Room for Racism.” They don’t mean that racism doesn’t exist in Hayward. Instead, there is no room for dissent: Complaints about racism and discrimination will not be heard.
Also at last week’s board meeting, board member Jeff Cook criticized the involvement of “outside organizations” attempting to help Hayward parents find a voice so their complaints might be heard. A week earlier, Mr. Cook had physically barred a Hayward parent and community advocate from attending a meeting at the school site, to prevent that parent’s complaints about racism from being heard.
Also at last week’s board meeting, teachers and parents from the school verbally attacked the parents who were objecting that their complaints were ignored.
Also last week, a “meeting” was scheduled by an assistant superintendent, purportedly to hear complaints from parents at the school. The meeting was scheduled for 3 p.m. on a weekday, when most parents are working, but that wasn’t really important, since the district didn’t invite or even notify parents about the meeting. At the end of that meeting, the district announced that no parents who had failed to attend that secret meeting would be permitted to attend future meetings on the subject.
Once again, Hayward has validated our family’s decision to transfer our child out of Hayward, to a public school where students and families are respected.
Mark J. Welch