Students stage walkout, accuse Montebello Unified School District of being 'corrupt'

More than two decades ago, students walked out of schools in the Montebello Unified School District, protesting millions of dollars in budget cuts.

On Thursday, history repeated itself, with hundreds rallying at the district office to protest hundreds of potential layoffs.

Students held signs reading, “Where’s the money” and chanted, “Our district is corrupt.” The gathered crowd, which police estimated at 500 or more, led officers to close the street in front of the district office.

For months, the district has been accused of corruption and bad financial management, the Whittier Daily News reported. The district’s current chief business officer, Ruben Rojas, provided false information on his job application, according to the newspaper.

The district also is facing millions in budget cuts for the next school year required by the Los Angeles County Office of Education, according to a district spokesman. 

If the district does not make those cuts, the state will take over the district. 

“Providing a quality education and ensuring daily attendance by our students is a top priority of the District,” the Montebello district said in a statement. “Consequently, we are disappointed that some special interests have encouraged our students to participate in a walkout today in a deliberate attempt to influence the Board in its discussions over a challenging budget.”

Students circulated a flier — shared on social media — saying the reason for the walkout was to confront the district over Rojas and the layoffs.

In its statement, the district said the flier “was purposely filled with incorrect and inaccurate information.”

The district has a history of financial issues dating to the early 1990s. In 1991, at least 100 employees, most of them contract teachers, were laid off as district officials grappled with budget cuts, according to a Times article. Hundreds participated in marches and rallies at the time.

In 1992, school walkouts and marches happened again to protest yet another round of layoffs because of ongoing budget troubles.

brittny.mejia@latimes.com

Twitter: @Brittny_Mejia

 

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