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Recall Drive Targets Anaheim Trustees

TIMES STAFF WRITER

On the heels of an Anaheim school district’s 4-1 passage Thursday of a plan to bill foreign countries or the federal government for educating the children of illegal immigrants, opponents started a recall drive Friday against three trustees.

Activists want to recall Anaheim Union High School District Board President Harald G. Martin, the author of the original plan, and Trustees Robert Stewart and Alexandria Coronado, who drafted the amended resolution the board passed. They also intend to organize a districtwide boycott.

For the record:

12:00 AM, Sep. 03, 1999 For the Record
Los Angeles Times Friday September 3, 1999 Orange County Edition Metro Part B Page 7 Metro Desk 1 inches; 23 words Type of Material: Correction
Board meeting--Gustavo Arellano’s name was misspelled in a story Aug. 21 about a recall drive against three trustees of the Anaheim Union High School District board.

“Those three are the majority,” said Seferino Garcia, executive director of Solevar Community Development Corp., an Anaheim-based nonprofit social service agency. “This school district is not doing anything for our people. They say the schools are overcrowded and the kids aren’t getting an education, but they don’t care about the community. We’ll have to work to get them out of there. They do not represent us.”

The resolution demands that the Immigration and Naturalization Service count the district’s illegal immigrant students and determine their countries of origin. The trustees also are asking the federal government to reimburse the district for the costs of educating those students and to negotiate with other countries to recover the costs. If the government were to pick up the tab, the district would be able to spend $5,125 a year per student--instead of the $4,025 it spends now, according to Stewart.

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“What [opponents are] failing to realize is that the resolution will provide money to improve the situations they were talking about,” Martin said in an interview Friday. “They don’t realize that, again because they are so narrowly focused on the race issue. They can’t see out of that very narrow box. All we’re asking for is the truth, the facts.”

An Anaheim police officer for nearly 20 years, Martin says he knows his credibility in the community will help him defend himself in a recall process.

“I’d be more than happy to try to defend myself and what the board is trying to do,” he said. “I guess the choice boils down to: Who are you going to believe? I’ve lived in this community since I was 2 years old and I intend to stay here. I believe in the law. I’m a law enforcement officer. The people who are in these groups . . . depend on communism and socialism for their ideas.”

Of the 50 speakers who signed up to address the board at Thursday’s meeting, nearly 20 support the resolution, Martin said. The board, however, heard from only 10 opponents because of time constraints, he said. Martin’s supporters include the Christian Coalition and Barbara Coe’s Coalition for Immigration Reform, which sponsored Proposition 187. Residents from other cities in Orange County have favored the plan at previous meetings.

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“I just called the names in the order I received” their request to speak, Martin said. “We’ve dealt with this issue four separate, distinct times. We weren’t going to get any different opinions from either side. There are plenty of people who support this and will support it when they can learn the truth.”

The truth, 1997 Anaheim High School graduate Gustavo Ariano told the board, is that the trustees “are phonies . . . and if you continue these actions, we will get all of you out of here.” The son of a former illegal immigrant, Ariano was one of a dozen students or graduates of the school district who attended Thursday’s meeting to ask the board to vote against the resolution.

“The problem is not in the influx of illegal immigrants,” he said. “There is no amount of money in the world that can make people care for us. You can give us all the technology you want, but if you don’t care about us, you don’t give us anything. . . . Who cares if my taxpayer money goes to the education of an illegal immigrant? I am helping a fellow human being.”

The board’s action drew the ire Friday of Orange County Board of Education President Felix Rocha Jr.

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“I’m so mad right now I can’t believe it,” he said. “This is really about racism. They are not acting in good faith against good case law. What do they want? They’re not inspiring the kids toward education. They’re just promoting themselves in a very mean-spirited way. And the little children are expected to go to school and feel like they’re a part of something? That is so wrong.”


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