Posted on July 25, 2011

Lawsuit Accuses Teacher of Ethnic Remark Against Big Bear Middle School Student

Rick Rojas, Los Angeles Times, July 22, 2011

A lawsuit has been filed against the Bear Valley Unified School District on behalf of a Latina middle-school student who accuses her teacher of making remarks about her ethnicity that, she said, humiliated her and inhibited her education.

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund filed the lawsuit Wednesday.

It says Coral Aviles, 13, was harassed by a Big Bear Middle School teacher because she is Mexican and alleges the district didn’t do enough to respond.


Nancy Ramirez, Western regional counsel for MALDEF and Coral’s attorney, said the teacher later apologized in front of the class. But Ramirez called the response “completely inadequate.”

In June 2010, the suit says, the teacher asked Coral if she was Mexican after the girl entered a performing arts class wearing a soccer jersey with “Mexico” on it. The girl replied that she was.

“Why are you here? Why are you in my country?” Carpenter asked Coral, according to the lawsuit. “Because this is my country. And because of people like you, I pay high taxes, and because of people like you, my insurance is sky high.”


Chamberlin, who was removed as principal and will become a fifth-grade teacher in August, disputes Coral’s account. She said she investigated the situation and found that Carpenter didn’t say what the lawsuit alleges. And according to Chamberlin’s recollection, Coral wasn’t wearing the shirt on the day mentioned.