You could hear them before you saw them.

With police motorcycles and cars leading the way, hundreds of people marched to the Santa Barbara School District office to support Cesar Chavez Charter School, which is in danger of losing its charter.

Families and school staff, many clad in the school’s maroon uniforms, walked from Ortega Park through downtown while chanting, singing and cheering in support of the city’s only bilingual school.

“Si se puede! Yes we can!” they chanted.

They walked up Santa Barbara Street, cut over to State Street,then wrapped back around to the district’s offices.

Tuesday evening’s Board of Education meeting included reports on the school’s status, and the crowd overwhelmed the board room and an extra 111-seat room opened up behind it. Many people were left in the parking lot area to listen to the speakers set up there.

Many adults carried children on their shoulders so their signs could be read from farther away during Tuesday's march

Many adults carried children on their shoulders so their signs could be read from farther away during Tuesday’s march. (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

“Our kids’ education is the most important thing. It’s not fair that their school might be shut down and they had nothing to do with that,” said Edwin Solano, the father of two Cesar Chavez students. Veronica, a second-grader, and Diego, a kindergartener, both said they like the school, especially history class and learning in Spanish.

Other local schools are already shorthanded and crowded, so finding a place for Cesar Chavez students wouldn’t lead to a good learning environment, Solano said. “They need to take the kids into consideration,” he said.

The school reportedly has posted low test scores, which prompted administrators to say that the school may fail to meet the academic requirements to renew its charter. Its charter has to be renewed every five years, and it expired in early October.

At an October Board of Education meeting, parents spoke on behalf of the school, saying students were competitive by sixth grade.

Check back with Noozhawk for complete coverage of Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at

Giana Magnoli, Noozhawk Managing Editor

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at