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Santa Ana
Unified School District
Dennis Cole, Principal
2000 North Bristol Street
Santa Ana, CA 92706

Phone: 714.972.7800
Fax: 714.972.7899

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Principal's Message

Mr. Dennis Cole   Mendez Continuing Excellence

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The 2013-2014 school year is well under way, with great plans to continue our tradition of excellence here at Mendez. At our Back to School Evening celebration, we had record numbers of parents come and see the outstanding learning happening in our classroom. One parent shared, “I love all my son’s teachers. They really expect a lot from him, but make the classes fun.” I know this is true in all our classrooms. Mendez scholars – both students and staff – are special.

This year our focus is on Collaborative Academic Conversations. Students are working together on creative problem solving tasks with an emphasis on critical thinking. These skills are the recommended 21st century skills from international experts which will prepare your students for their college and careers in the future. I know our Mendez Mustangs will go far, and we are excited to be preparing them to make a difference in their world.

- Mr. Cole

Mendez Family

Gonzalo and Felicitas Mendez
Gonzalo and Felicitas Mendez


        GONZALO AND FELICITAS MENDEZ were like so many other Mexican American families living in California in the 1940’s. Gonzalo and Felicitas Mendez faced discrimination at all levels of society. After the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo of 1848 ceded California and the Southwest to the United States, Mexican American families saw little hope of achieving equality with their Anglo counterparts. Mr. and Mrs. Mendez were hurt by the discrimination they encountered on a daily basis. But it hurt them even more when they saw their children become victims of this discrimination. After one hundred years of California’s Mexican American children being relegated to an inferior education, Gonzalo and Felicitas Mendez decided to do something about it.
       Gonzalo was a tenant farmer living in the Westminster area of Southern California. Mendez and his wife, Felicitas, decided that neither they nor their children were going to be treated as second class citizens. In early 1945, they organized a group of parents to take on the Orange County School and stop its practice of keeping Mexican American children segregated from Anglo children. While Anglo children attended academically oriented classes in modern buildings using new books, Mexican American children attend vocationally oriented classes in old buildings using inferior books.

        Gonzalo and Felicitas Mendez knew that a legal fight against awell entrenched segregationist educational system was going to be tough. This did not stop them. A civil rights attorney was hired andthe lawsuit was filed in the federal courts in Los Angeles. The lawsuit named five Mexican American families, including the Mendez family as plaintiffs.The lawsuit, entitled Mendez V. Westminster, asked the court to issue an injunction ordering the integration of the school district.The lawsuit argued that segregation based on national origin violated the United States Constitution. The case was won but the district appealed. On April 14, 1947, the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Mexican American families.

        Eight years after Mendez V. Westminster, the then future Justice of the Supreme Court, Thurgood Marshall, argued the famous case of Brown V. Board of Education. The Brown case outlawed the “separate but equal” education throughout the United States. In arguing his case, Marshall relied on Mendez V. Westminster as legal precedent.

        Because of their bravery and dedication, Gonzalo and Felicitas Mendez opened the door for a better education not only for children in California, but for children throughout the United States. Their efforts have been recently recognized and honored by groups like the Los Angeles Mexican American Bar Association.

        On December 3, 1997, the Santa Ana School Board, the same school district that once practiced segregation, dedicated the Gonzalo and Felicitas Mendez Fundamental Intermediate School. Mendez Fundamental Intermediate School is a school of choice. All students have the opportunity to receive a quality and enriched curriculum, regardless of the language they speak or the color of their skin.
For More information check the School Pride section under Our School.

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