December 11, 2004
By CADONNA PEYTON / The Press-Enterprise
At least one community member has filed a complaint with the San Bernardino City Unified School District claiming one of its assistant superintendents is making racist comments while harassing a trustee of another local school board.
Erica Manos of Lake Elsinore filed her complaint with the district's affirmative action office last week. She, along with Robin Hvidston of Upland and Sharon Higa of Chino Hills, attended the district's board meeting Tuesday to speak against Assistant Superintendent Mel Albiso.
However, the women said they were dissuaded from speaking because officials told them they had to file the appropriate complaint form first.
Albiso has attended two Colton Joint Unified School District board meetings to speak about trustee Marge Mendoza-Ware for statements she made at an Oct. 8 KFI AM 640 radio program. Mendoza-Ware was invited to the "John and Ken Political Human Sacrifice" program because one of their targets was U.S. Rep. Joe Baca Sr., and she was running against his son, Joe Baca Jr., in the 62nd Assembly District election.
At the event, Mendoza-Ware said that illegal immigrants are costing schools, hospitals and other public agencies a lot of money. Albiso, who considers the statement racist, has said he is upset that Mendoza-Ware acknowledged that she was a Colton trustee but did not say that her opinions were not of the entire board.
At the Nov. 4 board meeting, Albiso asked Colton trustees to censure Mendoza-Ware, and if they refused to take action, he promised to make Colton a "very complicated school district to work in."
To do that, Albiso said, he would use the Public Records Act to request all correspondence related to actions the board has taken internally and externally and "make a public issue of them."
At the Nov. 18 meeting, Albiso said, "Don't be fooled. This has nothing to do with immigration. This has to do with brown faces and non-brown."
The statements upset Manos.
"Anytime someone brings up immigration of any form, they are accused of being racist," she said.
Both Manos and Higa, who along with Hvidston planned to mail in her complaint, call Albiso's actions toward the board "blackmail."
"Any person who attempts to subdue freedom of expression and makes inflammatory or racist remarks publicly is not fit to hold a position of authority," Manos said.
Albiso, in charge of classified human resources, declined to comment following Tuesday's San Bernardino board meeting and did not return numerous calls made to his office and cell phone.