HACIENDA HEIGHTS (CBSLA) — Parents of children at a prominent Los Angeles County elementary school are accusing those in charge of bad management, poor upkeep and racial bias.
Wedgeworth Elementary School in Hacienda Heights provides dual-immersion instruction in Mandarin and English in addition to coding classes. (CBSLA)
“The conditions inside the classrooms are terrible,” Brendan Ireland, a parent, said. “Constant infestations of raccoons, rats, beehives, and they’re still not putting money into it because they say, ‘Oh, it’s temporary structures.’”
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Wedgeworth Elementary School in Hacienda Heights provides dual-immersion instruction in Mandarin and English in addition to coding classes. But some parents say the school has been neglected by the Hacienda La Puente Unified School District, despite being a nationally recognized Blue Ribbon and Gold Ribbon campus.
“Because of its academic success, enrollment keeps increasing,” Vivian, a parent, said. “This is the only school that has increasing enrollment in the entire district, which brings the district a lot of funding, but we don’t get any improvements.”
The parents say the school, which consists of all portable trailers, is severely underfunded compared to other campuses in the district. They say, in addition to the infestations and sewage problems, there are only four restrooms for the school’s 600 students, no kitchen or cafeteria and very little playground space — problems they say they have been asking the district to fix for the past decade.
“I think all of this is unfair,” Carissa Yu, a former student, said. “All we’re asking is having a safe school.”
And now, the parents say some school board members are fostering anti-Asian discrimination in meetings and on social media.
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“I showed you a screenshot that there’s the thinking, ‘Oh, because they’re learning Mandarin, it’s exposed to the Communist ideas from China,’” Vivian said. “That is just absurd.
“I don’t know if that’s her ultimate reason to deny the project, but I definitely feel for an elected board member to make comments like that, this is definitely a racial bias,” she continued.
Supporters of the school’s expansion hope the board will ultimately focus the money where it’s going to make the biggest difference.
“Everything is set up and lined up, I mean contractors and everything, to build the school,” Ireland said. “They need to push the project forward, because it’ll bring in millions of dollars every year into the district because they’re building up a magnet school.”
In a statement, the district said, in part:
“Our efforts to address the needs of Wedgeworth Elementary School families have driven an active community discussion. We welcome the input of all Hacienda La Puente students, families and community members and look forward to building consensus moving forward together.”
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The group of parents said they planned to hold a demonstration outside the district’s headquarters Monday morning to once again call on officials to move forward with the expansion project.