An Inclusive Litany

6/10/02

The Sacramento Bee reports that the town of Colfax, California, lost $31,000 in special state education funds because 69 Native American students had failed to show academic improvement, as required under state law, even though overall scores were adequate to qualify for the funds. Many parents and teachers complained that the penalty was unfair, since almost all the "Native Americans" were actually white. In order to qualify for $14,695 in federal funds from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Indian Education, many parents signed forms claiming that their children are part American Indian.

Two officials sent from Washington from the Office of Indian Education to resolve the controversy examined the paperwork and found it to be entirely in order. "When the form is filled out, it is not necessarily the schools or the U.S. Department of Education, or anyone else's privilege to go and counteract what the parent is saying," explained Gayle Garbolino-Mojica, the school's principal. "In all legalities, that parent is saying that child, parent, or grandparent has a tribal affiliation and that is the end of the story."

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