Moskowitz called 'dictatorial'

California activists assail incoming Denver schools chief, others praise his 'compassion, love for people

Hispanic activists in California have criticized incoming Denver school superintendent Irv Moskowitz for his ”dictatorial” style.

Moskowitz, who will meet Saturday with Hispanic leaders in Denver, will be the subject of a protest today by Hispanic activists and students in Pomona, Calif., where he has been superintendent since 1989. He has been charged with being unfair to a Hispanic teacher by temporarily reassigning him.

Moskowitz fended off the accusations. He said the teacher was reassigned after allegations by students. He would not discuss details but said the teacher will return to his job.

Moskowitz said he is being unfairly targeted by a small but vocal faction of Pomona’s large Hispanic community.

But that’s not how his opponents portray the conflict.

”We know him as almost a dictator,” said Abe Tapia, president of Pomona’s Latino Chamber of Commerce. ”He is insensitive, particularly as it relates to the Hispanic community.”

”He doesn’t understand the community,” Pomona Councilman Marco Robles charged.

Moskowitz has been hit with similar criticism by Denver Hispanic leaders. They say he was insensitive to minorities during his tenure as a Denver Public Schools assistant superintendent in the 1980s.

Other Pomona Hispanic leaders have nothing but praise for Moskowitz.

”He has a lot of compassion and love for people, no matter what color you are,” said Nancy Lopez, head of the Pomona Hispanic Youth Task Force. The group recently gave Moskowitz a humanitarian award. But Moskowitz has been the target of other Hispanic protests in Pomona. He was blasted when he recruited bilingual teachers from Spain rather than people of Mexican descent. He also was criticized for delaying the opening of an elementary school in a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood.

Moskowitz countered that the Spanish teachers were hired because they were the most qualified and that he delayed the opening of the school to make it larger.

”These are some people with an agenda that involves more than just the schools,” he said of his detractors.

He said he looks forward to meeting with Denver’s Hispanic leadership.

”I’ll be able to hear the goals and aspirations of the groups and see how I can fit in,” he said.

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