My Experience at an AUHSD Board Meeting


Alisha Zazueta, AUHSD Board Meeting.

Janet Rodriguez, Author

On Thursday, November 18th, 2021, I attended an AUHSD Board meeting with five other peers and our club advisor Ms. Barrios-Gracian. We were there to speak on the voting results of the Anaheim High School “Colonist” mascot that occurred on November 10th. We also wanted to give our opinion on the information packet used to educate the students.

We patiently sat for four hours listening through the agenda and waiting for the public comments to speak. When we were finally addressed, they told us that because there were 16 speakers and only 20 minutes were given per topic, we would be given only 90 seconds to speak. We were under the impression that we had five minutes each and unaware that multiple speakers would shorten the time.

My peer, who had received the invitation for all of us to speak,  Alisha Zazueta, was the first student speaker. She was interrupted three times throughout the 90 seconds. She was visibly nervous and thrown off because we had prepared statements that took longer than 90 seconds.

I understand that protocol and rules are set for public comments, but there should have been an exception or accommodation for a group of young students invited to speak. How some members of the Board treated a young group of passionate students of the AUHSD school district speaks to how disconnected some of them are from their students. It speaks to how much they care about student voices.

I also understand that the board members were also tired and wanted to adjourn the meeting. We also wanted to go home. We were also tired. But isn’t this their job to listen to the students? The students whom they make decisions for every day, who they represent. We were also tired, stressing about an AP government exam the following day and homework, but we were patient and excited, and to be treated in that manner was rude and insensitive.

We are all 16 and 17-year-olds, people of Latinx descent, academically high achieving, extremely involved, we are catalysts for social change, and deserving of respect. Our Board meetings should be the safest place to speak out. At such a young age, the leaders of our community, our district, have taught us that our voices are more easily silenced than we think.

I looked forward to speaking at the board meeting because of my passion for the topic. All week I spent time editing and rehearsing my statement.  I am devastated to have seen my peers so disheartened by their treatment. I cannot bring myself to watch the Livestream because it brings me personal embarrassment and sadness.

I think about the college essays I should be working on or the homework I have to complete as I write this. Then I am reminded that this incident should not be ignored. That night I stated, “You may be asking, why this is so important to us? It is because if you allow this to go unseen, it can create ignorance and can breed microaggressions. It takes us one step back in achieving social awareness on issues,” and yet I stood there receiving the microaggressions I was talking about.

The AUHSD district preaches mental health awareness and prides itself in listening to students. This was not our experience. My peers and I are discouraged, but we are resilient and will not be silenced. I hope no other student experiences this unsettling behavior.

I must make mention of the two Board members who have since reached out in an honest attempt of making things right.  Ms. Annemarie Randle-Trejo and Mr. Al Jabbar have extended their apologies and are willing to meet with us to discuss these unfortunate events and make an attempt to make things right.  We appreciate this because all we had hoped for was to be heard and treated with dignity and respect.

Regardless of anyone’s opinion on the topic we addressed, it is concerning that a group of students was shut down and silenced.

I have included the video of the Board meeting. Forward to  3:20:00.