§11-2750, 1913). Thus, the impact of Jencks’s ruling was limited. While Romo’s children wereallowed to attend the Tenth Street School, the Eighth Street School exclusively served MexicanAmerican children long after Jenckes’ decision. In interviews from the Barrios Oral HistoryProject, Josie Ortega Sanchez and Ray M. Chavarria (born 1925 and 1927, respectively) reportedthat only Mexican students attended the Eighth Street School in Tempe, although Ortega Sanchezwas allowed to transfer to the Tenth Street School at her request (Chavarria, 1993; J. O. Sanchez,1992). According to Chavarria, the Eighth Street School was a training school for new teachersand the books were castoffs from the Tenth Street School. Likewise, in her master’s thesis, Bell(1940) noted that all of the students attending the Eight Street School were Mexican and thatthe school was staffed by Arizona State Teachers College student teachers under the direction ofcritic teachers.Gonzales v. SheelyIn May 1950, Porfirio Gonzalez and Faustino Curiel, the representatives of a committee ofconcerned parents, filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of their children and “some threehundred other persons of Mexican and Latin descent or extraction, all citizens of the UnitedStates of America, residing within said school district” in the U.S. District Court of Arizonaagainst the trustees of the Tolleson School District and Kenneth Dyer, the district superintendent(Estrada, 1950, p. 6). The lawsuit challenged the segregation of Mexican American students inthe first through seventh grades. In Tolleson School District No 17, Unit No. 2 was the “Mexican”Downloaded By: [EBSCOHost EJS Content Distribution - Current] At: 19:40 19 December 2010
MEXICAN AMERICAN SCHOOL SEGREGATION IN ARIZONA473school. As in Tempe decades earlier, prior to the construction of Unit No. 2 in the mid-1940s, UnitNo. 1 School had been attended by both white and Mexican American students, although withinthe school children were sorted into segregated Anglo and “Mexican” classrooms. At the timeof the hearing, 479 students attended Unit No. 1; of these 28 were Mexican American students.Eighteen of the latter were in the eighth grade, which was not formally segregated. Three hundredand sixty students, all Mexican American, were placed in Unit No. 2.Gonzales and Curiel’s lawsuit was the culmination of months of effort and frustration; parentsand other community members had repeatedly requested that Dyer end the district’s segregationpolicy. They also wrote to Senator Carl Hayden in February of 1950. Hayden’s letter politely butfirmly informed the group that the federal government had no authority to intervene (Hayden,1950). The lawyer for the lead plaintiff, Portfirio Gonzales, was A. L. Wirin, a civil rights attorneyfor the ACLU of Southern California. Ralph Estrada and Greg Garcia represented Faustino Curiel.