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The rocky marriage between a downtown public school and a private school hasn’t smoothed since fall, when parents clashed over how to integrate the Harborside program, a shuttered private school, into Washington Elementary.

Tensions between the two have built, with Washington parents claiming that Harborside students are afforded better resources, and Harborside parents complaining that they have been blamed for the school district’s bungling of the merger.

Today, dozens of aggrieved parents marched at the school, calling for a student walkout if a series of bullying incidents targeting Harborside students aren’t addressed. Parent James Saucedo said his son, a fifth-grader in the Harborside program, has been assaulted and harassed. He alleges that the school did not file incident reports.

“We’re told we’re ‘the whities’ in the school, that we need to go away. … San Diego Unified supposedly has zero tolerance for bullying,” Saucedo said. “Why isn’t Washington supporting this?”

Saucedo said the school’s principal, Nestor Suarez, has 48 hours to deliver a timeline of how bullying would be handled, or he and other parents would pull their children from the school. Nor was he pleased with Area Superintendent Delfino Aleman, who he said “danced around the issues” and has failed to meet with Harborside parents since December.

“We hope it doesn’t get to that point,” Saucedo said.

I’ve put a call into the school to hear the principal’s perspective on the complaints. Suarez is currently addressing an assembly of students and parents.


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