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School Board Was Not Racist in Removing Hentel

* Your editorial “Quiz for the Burbank School Board” (April 17) totally missed the mark in suggesting that race had anything to do with the removal of Keiko Hentel at Burbank High School. Because the article states that “we are left with questions and concerns,” I can only presume that the entire editorial board has forgotten a basic rule of journalism: Getting the facts!

Here are some facts that will shed some light on your “questions.”

The Burbank Board of Education originally hired Keiko Hentel! How could your editorial possibly question whether a board was racist in its employment practices when it hired Hentel in the first place?

The Latino and African American student groups at Burbank High School are thriving despite the presence of a new principal. Despite all of the recent press scrutiny of Burbank High, no reports have ever even remotely substantiated any change in the school’s scope, diversity and constant encouragement of multiethnic groups and programs.

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Burbank was recently singled out for having all of its middle schools designated as California Distinguished Schools. (This is an immense achievement that The Times never even reported.) The state awards this honor only to schools that have established successful programs that meet the needs of all its students. Clearly, the Burbank Unified School District’s progressive and innovative policies and educational strategies have been a major factor in the district’s success in meeting the diverse needs of its nearly 50% minority middle school population.

Contrary to the suggestion that the Burbank school board might be out of touch with Burbank’s changing demographics, all of the board members have lived in Burbank for more than 10 years, and some are lifelong residents. The board’s president has two Latino grandchildren. Another board member is fully fluent in Spanish, holds bilingual and multicultural education degrees, minored in Asian studies and has spent nearly two decades establishing bilingual educational programs in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

As a lifelong resident of Burbank, I was insulted by your editorial.

REED WILCOX

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