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After Push from Villapudua, Stockton Unified Reinstates Position to Support Native American Students

For immediate release:

STOCKTON – Assemblymember Carlos Villapudua (D-Stockton) released the following statement today after the Stockton Unified School District (SUSD) Board of Trustees voted to reinstate the Native American Indian Center’s coordinator position.

“The Native American Indian Center supports 12,000 students who have faced historical underrepresentation,” said Assemblymember Villapudua. “The services the Center provides, particularly for those with tribal recognition, has played a critical role to uplift and empower these students. I’m grateful for the actions the Board took today that will help maintain the organization and growth of this network by reinstating the Center’s coordinator position and rehiring Destiny Rivas to continue her good work.”

On March 7, 2023, SUSD voted to cut the Native American Indian Center’s coordinator position. This raised many concerns throughout the community from families who recognize the support the Center provides for those who need it most. Cutting the position would risk losing engagement within the community and awareness of the resources available.

Destiny Rivas had helped grow the program for nearly 15 years, and was assigned to the coordinator position earlier this year. She had played an instrumental role to secure grants and services, and strengthen program resources by expanding outreach and local engagement.

Assemblymember Carlos Villapudua, along with Assemblymember James Ramos who serves as Chair of the Legislative Native American Caucus, sent a letter to SUSD before their May 11 Board meeting urging them to reconsider their decision to cut this position.

“When Native American students have the lowest graduation expectancy of any group, there isn’t a school district or community in California that can afford to cut or eliminate resources from Native students,” said Assemblymember Ramos (D-San Bernardino). “Education is paramount to self-sufficiency. Our schools should be creating and enhancing resources for Native children – and all students – to ensure their educational success, and that is not achieved by eliminating already limited resources.”

The SUSD Board of Trustees voted this morning to reinstate the coordinator position and rehire Destiny Rivas, so that she may continue her important work for our students.