Split Decision

A judge says Preston Hollow Elementary segregated white kids to please parents. The reality is deeper and maybe more troubling.

In any case, David Hinojosa, the attorney for the plaintiffs, points out that when the teachers themselves were deposed, they couldn't explain why so many black and Latino kids wound up in ESL classes, even though they qualified for general education classes.

"One of the teachers we deposed ended up crying in her deposition," Hinojosa says. "We showed her one of the exhibits and asked her where these numbers came from, and she ended up broke down."

As the judge would say, far too many black and Hispanic kids were assigned to ESL classes "without regard to their language abilities." One of those was Santamaria's son, who in the judge's ruling is referred to as Doe No. 1. During the trial, DISD conceded that Doe No. 1's language skills could have placed him in a general education class but say that he wasn't harmed in an ESL setting.

Santamaria knows better. She says that her son was bored in his ESL class and complained that he was learning the same things over and over. Soon he lost interest in school. Sometimes, he refused to go, and now he's fallen behind other kids his age.

"It's taken a lot of work to try and get him caught up," Santamaria says in Spanish. "We got a tutor for him. But he says, 'For what? What's it going to do now?'"

Staff writer Megan Feldman contributed to this story.

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