About 35 parents, students, and advocates from the Guatemalan/Maya communities attended a town hall meeting convened by Dr. Debra Robinson, vice-chair of the Palm Beach County School Board, on a recent Thursday evening to voice issues and concerns about the academic success of Guatemalan students in District schools. Overcrowding on school buses with a high population of Guatemalan students; availability of full-time VPK programs; access to information about college entry and college scholarships; and a host of other topics were among those voiced by current and former students, their parents, and some former employees of the District who had served students and families from the Guatemalan communities.
Dr. Robinson was joined by a panel of educators who were on hand to listen to and help address the issues presented, Thursday, November 8, at the session hosted by Dr. George Lockhart at Lake Worth High School. Rod Montgomery, superintendent of Area 2 Schools, Margarita Pinkos, director of the Department of Multicultural Education, Tanya Daniel, principal of Lake Worth Middle School, Mike Riley, principal of South Grade Elementary, and Brian Killeen, principal of Highland Elementary, listened intently with some taking notes as a steady parade of people approached the microphone to express their concerns or ask questions. Highland Bridges Director Jaime-Lee Brown joined District Mayan social services facilitator Sonia Cabrera Lopez in facilitating the session, time-keeping, and making sure the comments were recorded on chart paper.
Juana Domingo, a sophomore at Lake Worth High School, told the panel she’d like to know where to find more sources of financial assistance….not only as she prepares to apply to colleges soon, but also for opportunities such as a leadership program she was recently invited to participate in, but had to decline because her parents didn’t have the $2500 required for her to enroll. “We have to remember that it does begin with our parents but all parents don’t have the education necessary to help or the money for the extra programs,” she stated. *At the end of the session, Dr. Robinson urged her colleagues to follow through on the issues that could be immediately addressed and to consider remedies for the other topics. “I think this was an excellent start, an opportunity for us to listen to the parents and students instead of us overwhelming them with a lot of our presentations,” she stated.
The session was interpreted into Spanish, Q’anjob’al, and Mam for non-English-speakers by District staff Maria Lacobs, Dominga Manuel-Xuncax, and Maria Gaspar. The meeting got underway after dinner was provided for children and their parents. Dinner was sponsored by the Highland and Lake Worth Bridges community organizations. El Sol, and the Guatemalan/Maya Center also helped to recruit participants for the event.
For more information, contact Sonia Cabrera-Lopez, 561.434.8684 or email Sonia.email@example.com.
*To see a complete list of concerns expressed by parents and students, click here.PBSD Town Hall Meeting Minutes