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      Pasadena Unified School District (Photo – ColoradoBlvd.net)

      MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund), a Latino civil rights organization, is challenging the closure of elementary schools that serve high concentrations of Latino students in the Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD), according to papers filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Friday, Jan. 4, 2023.

      By News Desk

      The District issued the following statement:

      Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD) administration has recently learned that the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) intends to file a lawsuit against the District. Shockingly, the complaint alleges that the 2019 decision of the Board of Education to close schools was motivated by race and deprived Latino students of equitable education.

      Significantly, the threatened suit follows the 2018 dismissal by the United States District Court, of another suit filed by MALDEF against the District that similarly claimed, among other things, a denial of equal protection. In 2020, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit denied MALDEF’s appeal of the dismissal. The Pasadena Unified School District is committed to providing equitable school environments.

      MALDEF’s lawsuit is troubling given that it continues to pursue a meritless legal strategy against the District. As mentioned, the last MALDEF lawsuit against our District was dismissed by a federal court after the District was forced to use precious public resources to defeat the meritless claim.

      This time around, MALDEF is again pursuing meritless action against PUSD related to the very painful exercise of closing schools in 2019. PUSD followed a transparent and inclusive process by convening a Task Force of parents, staff, and community members to consider the issue of school closures, identify the schools to be closed, and make recommendations to the Board of Education. The Board convened its own subcommittee to examine the issue and make recommendations to the full body. This process took nearly two years. It is always painful when a community is forced to close schools and PUSD’s decision to close four schools was no exception. That District administration and the Board of Education would make school closure decisions based upon the ethnic makeup of particular schools is simply preposterous.

      Not only did the school closures not disparately impact Latino students, but the District did not target Latino-majority schools for closure. In light of the fact that PUSD is a majority Latino district and that PUSD’s student population in 2019-2020 was 60% Latino, any school closures would disproportionately impact Latinos based simply on the demographics of our student population.

      Lastly, the District is confident that the students from the closed schools who are now attending new schools are receiving a high-quality and equitable education, as are all of our students. This is our district-wide commitment, irrespective of the school a student attends.

      We continue to stand tall with all our families to ensure that all children, regardless of their background, learn and grow so that they can be ready to succeed in college and careers.

      MALDEF is suing on behalf of seven Latino parents whose kids were transferred to other schools when their elementary schools were closed in 2019. The plaintiffs are parents Luz Becerra, Jose Flores, David Chavez, Belen Cid-Garcia, Carla Ponce, Jess Mancia, and Danae Tapia.


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