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Protestors accuse Alhambra Unified of abusing its power

A group of 80 students, parents, and former school staff attended last Tuesday's Alhambra Unified School Board meeting to protest the firing of Mark Keppel High School basketball coach Danny Woo, Pasadena Star-News reports. The group — named "Rethink Education" — accused administrators of denying students and staff the freedom of speech and abusing their power.

Woo said he was let go after 10 years at Mark Keppel for questioning "the chain of command," the Star-News reports, and that he learned about his dismissal through other teachers, not school staff. According to the former coach, uttering an expletive at an Alhambra High School basketball game gave the administration a reason to fire him.

Recent Mark Keppel graduate Bianca Li said during the meeting that the district uses "arbitrary punishments" to stop students and staff from expressing themselves. "We're so afraid of the repercussions of what we do," Li said. "We have been raised to fear authority. There are entire assemblies where they tell us that if you even don't do something that a teacher or administrator tells you to do, that's called 'defiance' and you could be suspended for that."

Li also accused Mark Keppel Principal Jas Cisneros of plagiarizing a graduation speech Li used to audition for commencement speaker and mentioned administrators from other AUSD schools, including Alhambra High School and Monterey Highlands Elementary School.

Alhambra school board members expressed shock at the statements from students and staff. "There's a lot of discussion that needs to be taken, and we need to be speaking to our school principals and getting some more information before we make any decisions," said AUSD Superintendent Laura Tellez-Gagliano.

Read the full story from Pasadena Star-News.

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