Two organizations are demanding the Adams 14 school board apologize for removing a vocal critic from a public meeting, after he insisted on calling out school officials by name in criticism officials characterized as “not constructive.”
Jorge Garcia, the head of the Colorado Association for Bilingual Education, has been a frequent critic of the district and Superintendent Javier Abrego ever since the district stopped the expansion of biliteracy programming. At the last meeting, top district officials interrupted Garcia and ordered police to escort him out.
Tuesday the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado sent the school board a letter, signed by their attorney, asking for an apology to Garcia, “for violating his First Amendment rights,” and attacking the board’s unwritten policy against criticizing district officials and staff by name. It asked for a response by Oct. 1.
“The board’s silencing of Mr. Garcia represents viewpoint discrimination that the First Amendment forbids,” the ACLU’s letter states. “Mr. Garcia has every right to mention Superintendent Abrego by name when providing public criticism of a public official who is the highest-ranking executive officer of the Adams 14 School District.”
Tuesday afternoon, officials from the school district did not return a request for comment.
Earlier, the Colorado Association for Bilingual Education, where Garcia is executive director, also issued a statement, asking for an apology from the school board. In its statement, the association wrote that Garcia offered to resign “in order to spare the organization any possible retaliatory litigation targeting him,” but the association’s board unanimously rejected the offer and instead supported Garcia’s attempts to speak to the board.
“CABE is the foremost advocate for educational equity for emergent bilinguals in the state,” the association wrote. “Jorge’s initial actions at the Adams 14 board meeting were perfectly consistent with this role.”
The board has its next regular meeting Tuesday evening.
Read the full letters below: