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California

An ugly call about Trump’s wall reaches an LAUSD strike picket line

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Patricia Alvarez in a selfie with other picketers at South Gate Middle School, where a district staff member shouted at striking LAUSD teachers: “Build the wall!”
(Patricia Alvarez)

A Los Angeles Unified employee working at South Gate Middle School during the teachers’ strike was removed from the school after she shouted, “Build the wall!” at picketers.

The district said it was investigating the incident, which went viral when a video was posted on Facebook.

“This behavior is inexcusable and directly contradicts the mission and values of @LASchools,” said a district tweet Wednesday. LAUSD spokeswoman Shannon Haber would not identify the employee or say what her job was.

The video begins with an argument between picketers outside the school and a staff member sitting in her car parked on school grounds.

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Picketers shout at the woman, who is holding her phone out, recording the exchange.

“Get back inside!” one picketer shouts.

“I’m getting paid,” the woman responds, rolling up her window.

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The picketers go back to chanting: “Whose house? Our house!”

Then, the woman rolls down her window to respond.

“This is my home. This is America,” she says, adding that picketers don’t really care about the education of students in the building, who don’t have teachers.

She begins rolling the window up again but pauses to call out: “Build the wall! All you guys wouldn’t be here.”

Other video of the incident shows the woman making an obscene gesture at the picketers.

Patricia Alvarez, who has taught physical education at South Gate Middle School for 13 years, was on the picket line when the exchange happened. She said the woman already had earned a bad reputation with teachers since the strike began Monday.

She made obscene gestures at them on the first day, Alvarez said, and had also apparently revved her car engine when a teacher was in front of it.

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“That was Day 1,” she said. “We thought, who is this lady? Maybe the aggression came from days prior.”

People told Alvarez that the same woman harassed strikers at nearby South Gate High School on the second day of the strike. Teachers at the two schools had never seen her before, she said.

South Gate Middle School is overwhelmingly Latino, Alvarez said.

“That’s what’s so offensive .... That’s deeper than the picket line. That’s a racial comment.”

People on social media were quick to try to identify the employee and to criticize the district for not disciplining her more seriously.

“Removed? Isn’t that more like a reward?” one user said of the district’s decision to take her off strike-time school duty.

During the strike, district staff not in the teachers union have been assigned to schools along with substitutes. But most schools have been thinly staffed and attendance at many has been low.

alejandra.reyesvelarde@latimes.com

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Twitter: @r_valejandra


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