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"They had a child trying to interpret to those parents," he said. "Even if you don't have interpreters for all schools, you should have one that you can call up and say: 'We need you over here now.' You might not have enough money to have a full-time person for each school, but you need rovers anyway — people who can be there in 10 minutes or less to talk to these people."
'The racial card'
Terry Trevino-Richard and Rocio Ortega-Richard said they didn't make the results of Operation Intercept public until now because they wanted to give the LRSD time to make changes, and because they feared releasing the information could make a bad situation worse.
"We feared that the 'racial card' was going to come out," Ortega-Richard said. "How do we avoid hurting the community but at the same time do something about it? One way we found to be more gentle would be to present the bullet points to the next superintendent. Well, they read it. But it's obvious they're not going to do anything about it."
While Trevino-Richard said there are good teachers and administrators in the LRSD who are protective and appreciative of Latino students (he said one recurring theme among teachers who were surveyed was that they wanted more Latino students, reporting them to be mostly well-behaved and attentive) there is clearly a widespread problem with reports from Latino students not being taken seriously enough or ignored altogether. After awhile, Trevino-Richard said, even teachers who do report Latino students' complaints to the administration can develop "cognitive dissonance" about complaints from Latinos. "Often when they have reported [claims of harassment and bullying], nothing gets done," Trevino-Richard said, "so they just go through this thing of: 'It happens, it happens in all the schools, kids are kids, even in the past when we went to school.' But it was never at this level. Certainly, the sexual harassment has never been at this level."
Trevino-Richard said that there are likely "sub-cultural issues" at work in why the school district hasn't done more to address the bullying and harassment uncovered by the Operation Intercept study, including problems with lack of leadership at an administrative level. While Trevino-Richard said he's confident that many of the problems revealed by Operation Intercept continue to this day (he said his wife is still in contact with many teachers and administrators in the Little Rock School District, and they have reported no changes in response to Operation Intercept), he said he believes that Dr. Roy Brooks — who had his contract bought out by the LRSD in 2007 — would have attempted to find solutions.
"Given his leadership style, I do believe he would have actually intervened," Trevino-Richard said. "I think he would have developed some programs to address this. Certainly workshops on sensitivity training and things like that would have been initiated."
Trevino-Richard said that there is likely to be some fallout for him because he released the results of the study to Arkansas Times and because he speaks frankly about what he sees as the issue of racism revealed by Operation Intercept. As he said a friend recently told him: "They're going to want to kill the messenger, and you're the messenger."
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