Montebello High School Students protest District Policy
March 8, 2017
Hundreds of Montebello High School students walked out Mar. 2 to protest the resignation of Montebello Unified School District’s Chief Financial Officer, Ruben Rojas, claiming he mishandled district funds causing 468 lay offs by the end of this fiscal year.
This decision to cut back was reached in order to lower their budget by 17 million, which needed to be done if they wanted to prevent the Los Angeles County Office of Education from sending a fiscal advisor to take control of their budget.
The Montebello School District Board recently had crucial internal problems with Rojas who was under investigation of falsifying documents and the misuse of funds. Evidence was found that he fabricated his employment history including falsifying letters of recommendation and previous employment.
During the 20 minute walk from Montebello High to the district office building, protesters were chanting their disapproval, “Rojas no Mas,” “Where is the money,” and “our district is corrupt.” Vice Principal, Benedetta Kennedy, accompanied the protestors.
“Right now we are just supporting our kids’ right to protest, it’s their choice, their civil right. So my job here is just to make sure my students are safe,” stated Kennedy.
The students stayed outside the district office for hours voicing their distrust and doing their best to draw attention to their cause and their message.
“…Our Voices will be heard, and our voices will be answered. The corruption is spreading throughout this district and we need to stop it,” said Kassandra Acosta, a student at Montebello High School.
Votes of no-confidence in Rojas have been declared, more noticeably from the Montebello Teachers Association and the California School Employees Association.
“We want to get rid of these people because their very corrupt, monies missing, they’re not even doing their jobs; one of them isn’t even qualified…. And he’s not even fired yet, he’s still being paid,” said student Diana Triana.
MUSD has already fired two of their top officials, Susanna Contreras-Smith and chief financial/operations officer Cleve Pell because of a difference of opinions on who to run the district. This was is the conclusion of a long time disagreements and distrust between Montebello Unified School District and the Montebello chapter of the California School Employees Association (CSEA).
Several candidates have emerged, campaigning and fundraising for the incumbent board member after the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors have denied the district’s request for term extensions for the Montebello Unified board members.