Coachella Valley Students Were Told to Ditch Hispanic References and Instead Sing “Yankee Doodle.” Who’s to Blame?

A recent flap over a school performance at the La Quinta Branch Library involving the City of La Quinta, the Coachella Valley School District (CVUSD), and Riverside County is hopefully inching closer toward resolve.

Riverside County has launched an investigation into allegations of racial discrimination made by CVUSD officials after a Cesar Chavez Elementary School teacher was allegedly told by La Quinta Library staff to nix displays of the Mexican flag or references to Hispanic culture and instead sing something like “Yankee Doodle.”

CVUSD initially blamed the City of La Quinta for the incident because the library supervisor who made the comment was allegedly directed to do so by the city.

“That’s BS,” Mayor Linda Evans told KESQ & CBS Local 2 at a news conference. She called the accusations “hurtful” and “absolutely false” during an Oct. 27 press conference at City Hall.

Evans did not deny that the incident occurred, but instead noted that La Quinta’s library services are provided through the county. In a memorandum to CVUSD Superintendent Edwin Gomez, La Quinta City Manager Frank J. Spevacek wrote that “neither the Mayor or Council members, or persons employed by the City, or any City department, director, volunteer, or other representative, were present on September 15, 2018, when the events described in your October 11, 2018 occurred; and, no City department director, employee, volunteer, or representative directed any person to make any of the statements or to take any of the actions attributed to those you identify in your October 11, 2018 letter.”

Spevacek’s letter did say the understanding was that the event would be inclusive of all peoples of Hispanic heritage, including those from Central and South America, not just Mexico.

"La Quinta Library staff made program modifications that were believed to be consistent with the City of La Quinta’s direction to rename the event,” the county’s librarian said in a statement.

Riverside County now says it is organizing a meeting to determine what may have occurred and why. Supervisor V. Manuel Perez reiterated that the county has a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination.