Hundreds of students walk out of classes in San Jose to protest school board action

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Hundreds of students in East San Jose walked out of class today in protest. They're upset at the Alum Rock Union School Board of Trustees and are holding a rally Thursday afternoon.

They were on bull horns and held signs. It's a defiant choice made by hundreds of students in the Alum Rock Union School District. At 12:30 p.m. Thursday afternoon, they walked out of class and into the street

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"We didn't want to really be in trouble but at the same time, we felt it was really important to be here. We kind of had that reassurance when we saw how many kids were walking out and people were supporting us," said Celeste Razo, a 7th grader who walked out.

Children from several elementary and middle schools simultaneously left school with parents to protest the board of trustees' management of the district. They marched to the school district office to hold a rally.

"There's a lack of transparency, there's a lack of accountability, there's mismanagement of funds or at the very least can you prove that there isn't mismanagement of funds," said Zelica Rodriguez-Deams, one of the rally organizers and the director at Somos-Mayfair, a non profit that serves the East San Jose community.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is currently investigating the district's handling of bond funds. Parents say there's been payouts to developers for projects that haven't been built. They're particularly frustrated with three of the five trustees who they say are disrespectful at meetings.

"They make comments and threaten to call the police. A lot of our parents over here are immigrants and now they're scared to come back and they feel like they're going to get arrested and maybe immigration comes by," said Jaimie Perez, a mother of two students in the district.

Board President Esau Herrera agrees there's challenges in the district where a many of the students are Latino and come from low income families. He disputes claims that he is disrespectful, pointing out he attended schools in the district and has two daughters who are school teachers.

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"I'm more than willing to listen I have been doing that. We need to sit down and continue this line of communication," said Herrera.

Parents and students are heading into the board meeting which begins at 5:30 p.m. to voice their concerns. It's an election year, and these parents say they won't be re-electing the trustees if things don't change.

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