Chicago principal bullying immigrant families, students, parents say

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A principal is under fire at a Chicago elementary school. Families said he's using intimidation to silence immigrant parents and students. (WLS)

A principal is under fire at a Chicago elementary school. Families said he's using intimidation to silence immigrant parents and students.

Some parents said they're afraid to send their children to school. They said it's happening at Orozco elementary school in the Pilsen neighborhood.

Parents at Orozco Community Academy are once again at odds with the elementary school's principal.

"He is a bully and a dictator. As a principal, we should trust his credibility rather than question his authority," Beatrice Garcia, a parent, said.

They're accusing Principal Efrain Martinez of using fear and intimidation to bully immigrant parents and students without offering an explanation as to why the tactics are being used.

About 600 students from kindergarten through eighth grade attend Orozco, a fine arts and performing arts neighborhood school that houses a regional gifted program for Spanish speaking English language learners.

"We are living through high political times when immigrant families across the nation are being intimidated, when immigrant families are being terrorized," Corina Pedraza, Pilsen Alliance, said.

One parent claims that when she tried to talk to the principal last month about her daughter being bullied, he called police on her.

"When the police arrived he told them that I had a gun," Ester Martinez, a parent, said.

Friday's parent protest was organized by neighborhood group the Pilsen Alliance and came after upset parents protested a change in the uniform policy at the predominately Hispanic grade school and the discontinuation of the longtime practice of singing the Mexican national anthem during school hours after it wasn't deemed inclusive of all students.

"I am half Mexican, half from Nicaragua. And we do not play the Nicaraguan anthem, so I don't find it disrespectful," Isabel Salcedo, a parent, said.

Martinez, who was named the school's principal in July 2015, is bilingual and is of Latino heritage himself.

He could not be reached for comment as some in the school's community continue to support their principal.

"He's been nothing but supportive. We've been caught off guard with all the chaos this morning," Marissa Santiago, a parent, said.

CPS officials have not commented on the dispute or Friday's protest.
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newseducationbullyingimmigrationPilsen
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