Friday, April 24, 2009

{The Press Enterprise 4/24/2009}

Bid to rename Grand Terrace high school fails

By MELANIE C. JOHNSONThe Press-Enterprise
COLTON - A compromise designed to rename a new high school to be built in Grand Terrace after the community while also honoring a longtime former school board member died Thursday night when it didn't get the needed votes.
The Colton Joint Unified School District Board of Education deadlocked 3-3 on a suggestion that the trustees put the high school name back on the agenda for a vote at its next meeting in early May. That vote would have been to consider changing Ray Abril High School to "Grand Terrace High School, honoring Ray Abril."
Board President Marge Mendoza-Ware and trustees Patt Haro and Kent Taylor voted to put the name change on the next meeting's agenda for action. Board Vice President Mel Albiso and trustees Frank Ibarra and Robert Armenta Jr. voted no. Board member David Zamora was absent.
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More than 200 people packed the Student Services Center on South Mount Vernon Avenue, so many that the fire marshal cleared the doorway.
Grand Terrace resident Bernardo Sandoval suggested the board rename Colton High School after Abril and called some of the trustees' expressed desire to name the new high school after a Latino to provide a role model for students as racially divisive.
"I passionately support honoring Ray Abril, but I don't support naming Grand Terrace High School after Ray Abril," he said.
Amanda Betten, part of a community group that is encouraging parents to opt their children out of state testing in protest, said after the board's decision against changing the name that Grand Terrace High proponents plan to up their efforts, even if it means the struggling district faces academic sanctions.
Armenta said threats of recall won't determine his decisions.
"I continue to believe that naming high school No. 3 after Ray Abril is an opportunity for our students," he said. "I will not be bullied or intimidated."
Haro recounted a recent lunch with Abril in which he told her he faced a similar decision as a board member and went with residents' wishes as not to divide the community.
"That speaks to the character of the gentleman we're trying to honor," she said, "and I believe we are dishonoring him."
Reach Melanie C. Johnson at 951-368-9489 or

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