Right now, upset parents are demanding more from Hillsborough County School leaders. They say the schools are not doing enough for Hispanic students. The school board is responding.
They're agreeing with the parents and they say it’s all a matter of math. Ten years ago, 27 percent of the student population was Hispanic. That number today is 35 percent. It is an increase of about 4,000 Hispanic students every single year in the county.
A Puerto Rican woman steps up to the microphone. She stops speaking to allow a translator to get her message across. She’s one of at least 40 parents showing up. Hoping these board members will do the same by adding translators to Hillsborough County Schools.
"There’s a few teachers who can speak some Spanish but sometimes they are not available or there’s no other coordinator," said Alfredo Garrido, a concerned parent of two.
Those crowding the room fed up.
“They have broken English or no English at all. So parents get so frustrated," said Ana Lamb, President of the League of Latin American Citizens 7250.
Their point: the school board isn’t doing enough to bridge the language barrier between parent and teacher which ends up hurting their children’s education.
The school district acknowledges their concerns.
“I can understand their frustrations of finding a translator," said Dr. Alberto Vazquez, Chief of Staff at HCPS.
Vazquez says the fault is all in the math.
“We have seen a traumatic increase in our Hispanic population," he said.
He tells ABC Action News that over the past year and a half this surge has left some gaps they’re trying to close.
“We want to have a conversation. We want to have a solution. What is the best way, how can we solve the problem with translations?" asks Lamb.
Parents showing up to start the dialogue toward a solution. Likewise, Vazquez says they are searching for translators.
“We’ve actually gone all the way up to Puerto Rico to recruit," he said.
The board also has other initiatives on the way to bridge the language and cultural barriers
Certainly no apathy from either sides. The room filled with people ready to give their take and board members voted not to hold them to the typical public input time limit.