A civil rights group in Mesa has kind words for the East Valley Institute of Technology the day after the Mesa school agreed to end a ban on students speaking Spanish in the classroom.
"This came about because EVIT had a genuine desire to build a relationship with members of the Hispanic community," said Gloria Chavez, education liaison for the Mesa Association of Hispanic Citizens.
Chavez attended a twohour meeting Monday at the school with other members of her organization.
Also at the meeting were EVIT officials and the families of students involved in a dispute that started Oct. 1 when a cosmetology teacher told a group of Hispanic girls they could not speak Spanish among themselves in the classroom.
"EVIT in good faith sat down to listen to complaints," Chavez said.
Chavez also wanted to set the record straight that a federal complaint filed against EVIT by the Arizona chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens had nothing to do with Monday’s negotiations, which already had been scheduled before EVIT knew about the complaint.
"This did not happen because of the complaint backing them into a corner," Chavez said.
Chavez said she did not want to speak against LULAC — because "we’re all trying to work for the same result" — but she was disappointed that LULAC filed the complaint without giving EVIT a chance to resolve the matter through friendly negotiations.
"LULAC has never contacted us," EVIT spokeswoman Lynn Strang confirmed Tuesday.
In addition to ending the ban on Spanish in the classroom, EVIT agreed Monday to organize a community panel to help the school explore ways to reach out better to Hispanics.