At approximately 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, October 9th, the interim superintendent of the San Ysidro School District, George Cameron, asked picketers of the teachers’ strike who stood outside the office to leave behind their signs and come inside the building to speak with him.
According to picketer Tasia Padilla, whose son is a fourth grader at La Mirada Elementary School, about 50 to 70 picketers, mostly parents and some of their children, gathered in a boardroom for what became a standing-room-only meeting with Cameron.
“They wanted the district to account for the money that they say they don’t have to pay the teachers and end this strike,” Padilla explained. “The superintendent kept basically going back to the 1.54 percent [raise increase] offer that was made.”
Parents asked Cameron whether it was true that substitute teachers were being bused in from school districts as far away as Los Angeles. Cameron refused to comment.
Then parents asked where the district had found the funds for security guards. About 30 security guards were hired from All State Security Services to keep the peace and make sure people could go in and out of the buildings without being harassed. Three of the security guards stood at the front of the district offices. The superintendent declined to answer that question also.
“He refused to answer a lot of questions. He kept going back to the chalkboard, the offer,” said Padilla. “The meeting had finally reached a point where the listening stopped on both sides. But I do believe that the parents, in all that they were asking, everyone managed to have a say. Whether they were calm about it, whether they were emotional about it, no one was ever threatening. They really stressed the point of wanting their children to have the best education and believing in their teachers that are working in this district. They want things itemized. They want transparency, of which our superintendent was unable to give clear answers to.”
At 11:25 a.m., the superintendent announced that there would be no more questions and the meeting was going to be adjourned.
“We weren’t kicked out,” Padilla said, “But he did stay and was able to speak with parents that had concerns.”
Judy Crespo, the communications officer from the San Ysidro Education Association, described the first day of the strike in an email: “At Smythe School, where I work, I witnessed with my own eyes a parent volunteer take a group of about 10 children out of Room 1 (near the front of school) after about 40 minutes of being alone with them. Large groups of children were being held in the cafeteria until they could figure out where to put them.”
On the second day, only 467 students out of approximately 1200 came to school at Willow Elementary.
A seventh-grade teacher at Willow Elementary, Eddie Garcia, said, “Usually I stay out of politics, but enough is enough. Our children do not have a voice.”