School Official Decries “Academic Excellence”

Embattled school-board president Antonio Perez argues that low standards, not his mistakes, are what ails the San Jose school district

Luther Burbank School District has scored well on academic performance tests in the past, but now it's the school board that is receiving a failing grade.  

A Santa Clara County civil grand jury gave the board an "F" for creating an intimidating environment and ignoring conflicts of interest when awarding district contracts, among other things.

Now embattled school board president Antonio Perez is on the offensive, claiming that the report was politically motivated and that even the media is misconstruing his actions on behalf of the district, which serves a largely low-income population with many immigrants in a central part of San Jose.

In an article on the controversy printed over the weekend, the San Jose Mercury News quoted Perez saying "academic excellence -- the word makes me sick."

Although the article went on to explain Perez's views that that high standardized test scores masked other indicators of poor performance at Luther Burbank, the 41-year-old says that the quote was taken out of context and believes it depicts him in a negative light.

Perez himself attended Luther Burbank as a child, and says that he pulled his son out of private school and enrolled him at his alma mater in order to show the community his commitment to the district.

"I have nothing but good intentions," said Perez. "And if there are lessons to be learned here, I have learned them."

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