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City of La Quinta Responds to Accusations of Changing Children's Hispanic Heritage Month Program

Post Date:10/30/2018 12:10 PM

Today the City of La Quinta held a press conference to refute the allegations made by Coachella Valley Unified School District that the City changed the Hispanic Heritage Month Children's Program by students at Cesar Chavez Elementary. The event in question took place on September 15, 2018 at the La Quinta Public Library.

Here is the timeline of the events that occurred:

  • Library services in La Quinta are provided by the County via a Memorandum of Understanding. The County has a separate and independent contract (to which the City is not a party) with Library Systems & Services, LLC (LS&S) for the provision of library services for the Riverside County Library System (County Library System).

  • Hispanic Heritage Month Event occurred on September 15, 2018 at the La Quinta Library with a performance by Cesar Chavez Elementary students.

  • The Mayor, City Council Members, City Staff or any persons employed by the City were NOT present at event.

  • Community Resources Director and Manager discussed changing the name of the event and its advertising with Zone Manager to be more inclusive of all Hispanic heritages and cultures. The 2018 event was intended to be inclusive of the many peoples and cultures of Hispanic heritage, which encompass Mexico, and the many countries of Central America and South America. This led to the Zone Manager giving directive to Library Branch Manager to change the name to Hispanic Heritage Celebration while keeping the program same as originally planned.
  • The Mayor, City Council Members, City Staff or any persons employed by the City did not request or direct ANY other changes to the performance, the costumes or the props; and no one from the City requested or directed that the essay should not be read, or American songs be sung.
  • The City first heard that the students were directed to substitute two flags and not read their essay when a La Quinta resident contacted the Mayor via email on September 18.  The City requested that the County library personnel investigate.
  • On October 12, the City receives the letter from the Superintendent of Coachella Valley Unified School District (CVUSD); the City requests that the County Library conduct an additional investigation of the new allegations outlined in the letter were true.  
  • Coachella Valley Unified School District staff (Superintendent and Assistant Superintendents) met with Mayor Evans and City staff (City Manager & Community Resources Manager ), Riverside County EDA Deputy Director, LS&S staff County Librarian and Zone Manager on October 25, 2018 to discuss the incident as well as the findings of the internal investigation performed by both the City and LS&S staffs.

  • During the October 25, 2018 meeting, Dr. Edwin Gomez from CVUSD asked for a 3rd Party Investigation at which point City Manager, Frank J. Spevacek was open to and asked for clarification on specific direction by CVUSD. At that point Dr. Gomez indicated that a Civil Rights Lawsuit was a possibility from CVUSD to the City of La Quinta.
  • Since this meeting, the Superintendent has contacted the Mayor to set a meeting involving two CVUSD Board members, Mayor Evans and a Council member, and respective staff.  The City has requested that the County be represented at this meeting.  The goal, to resolve this situation without incurring litigation.

Below is a letter that was sent by Coachella Valley Unified School District to the City of La Quinta regarding the event

CVUSD Letter_October 2018

Below is the response letter by City of La Quinta to Coachella Valley Unified School District

Letter to Dr. Gomez re- CVUSD - Hispanic Heritage Celebration

Video coverage of the Press Conference can be seen here:

 

 Mayor Linda Evans Speech, given at the 10.30.18 Press Conference can be found here

The information below was produced in response to a Public Records Act request from The Desert Sun:

 

  • The Desert Sun Public Records Act request received on 10/30/2018 and response by the City of La Quinta dated 10/31/2018 CLICK HERE

 

  • Correspondence between City Staff & Riverside County Library Staff – La Quinta Branch regarding 2018 Hispanic Heritage Celebration event CLICK HERE

 

  • Correspondence between CVUSD Teacher Mrs. Hassan & Riverside County Library Staff – La Quinta Branch regarding name change of event CLICK HERE

 

  • 2018 Hispanic Heritage Celebration – event photos CLICK HERE

 

  • Correspondence between City Staff, Riverside County Library Staff – La Quinta Branch, and CVUSD Teacher Mrs. Hassan, regarding 2018 Hispanic Heritage Celebration event CLICK HERE

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