WSD will study new Mendez honors

SYLVIA MENDEZ addressing the Westminster City Council Wednesday earlier this year (OC Tribune photo).

UPDATE: The Westminster School District Board of Trustees on Thursday night voted 5-0 to create a citizen’s committee to study a new or changed name to a school or building to honor the Mendez family.


A proposal to study the possibility of renaming a school or facility after the Mendez family – key figures in an historic civil rights case involving local schools – will go before the Westminster School District Board of Trustees when they meet on Thursday.

The governing board of the WSD meets at the district office at 14121 Cedarwood Ave. at 7 p.m., following a closed session at 6 p.m.

To be considered will be the creation of a Citizens Advisory Committee to consider honoring the Mendezes.

A U.S. stamp honoring the Mendez vs. Westminster court ruling (Flickr)

In 1943, 9-year-old Sylvia Mendez was denied admittance to the 17th Street School in Westminster by the WSD, and assigned instead to the Hoover School, where Mexican children were enrolled.

At that time, four local school districts – El Modena, Garden Grove, Santa Ana and Westminster – made a practice of segregating Mexican pupils into separate schools.

The Mendez family went to court and in 1946 won their case. A ban on segregated schools was passed shortly thereafter by the state legislature.

Mendez v. Westminsterwas a landmark predecessor to and precedent for Brown v. Board of Educationin 1954, which would lead to an end to public school segregation nationwide.

A school in Santa Ana has been named after the Mendez family, and a park and bike path are planned for Westminster.

Also on the agenda will be the swearing-in and administering the oath of office to board members Khanh Nguyen, Jeremy Khalaf and Xavier Nguyen, and the selection of a new board president, vice president and clerk.

The WSD is a K-8 district serving most of Westminster and portions of Garden Grove, Huntington Beach, Midway City and Fountain Valley.

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