Supervisor V. Manuel Perez was taken aback at accusations that students from Cesar Chavez Elementary School were forced to strip Mexican symbols, references and songs from a cultural celebration at a county library in the City of La Quinta.
“I hope it’s not true but I think that’s the reason we need to sit down and talk,” says Perez.
Emails requested by the Desert Sun show the back-and-forth between the city, library director and the school discussing late changes to the program.
While Perez says the county is investigating he’s taking action by calling all parties involved including contractors who make hiring decisions county wide to meet, “Be transparent be open and resolve the issue and be appreciative of the fact that we need to be honest with each other be respectful of one another and as well appreciate our diversity here in the fourth district.”
The school’s superintendent said in a letter to the city they were in violation of several California education codes when the teacher was told not to use the Mexican flag, or make references to Hispanic culture and to instead sing more patriotic songs like “Yankee Doodle” with the mariachi performance for the Mexican Independence Day celebration. The superintendent added he’d like a discussion to come to an understanding. The library staff has insisted they just wanted the event to be more inclusive of all culture. Meanwhile the Mayor of La Quinta Linda Evans has said the city has no involvement with the decisions made at the county staffed library and it was painful for her to hear about the incident and held a press conference to express her concerns.
But Perez says the blame game needs to stop, “I’m going to be very open minded about this I have to be it’s important that we go in there without pointing fingers into this discussion,” adding solutions need to be presented and followed through, “maybe we need to change some policies, maybe we need to think about cultural competency efforts and think about how our staff has been trained in these types of efforts.”
But above all, he says the county and city must reflect the values and diversity of the people they serve, “We need to do our best, I need to do my best, to ensure that we do not tolerate discrimination or any type of intolerance whatsoever.”