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Fort Worth activist calls Arlington school trustee a "Mexican racist"

04/03/2013 11:39 PM

04/05/2013 9:20 AM

A war of words is heating up between an area civil rights activist and an Arlington school board member.

Kyev Tatum, a Fort Worth resident who is president of the Texas Southern Christian Leadership Conference, called Arlington school board trustee Tony Pompa "an arrogant Mexican racist" Saturday in an email to Pompa.

"Absolutely, I stand by it," Tatum said on Wednesday.

Tatum's comments are the latest in a contentious exchange between the two men over a January incident at Arlington's Boles Junior High School. The incident involved special education teacher Melody Soroka, who admitted pouring pencil shavings into a black student's mouth at school on January 10. Soroka, who is white, was initially given a two-week suspension and a formal reprimand by the district.

The student's mother brought new claims in late February, and the district put Soroka on leave again while they investigated the allegations. District officials on Wednesday would not disclose whether Soroka is still on leave or back in the classroom, citing personnel issues.

Tatum accused the district of "institutional racism" during a March 7 school board meeting and called for the teacher's dismissal. He said criminal assault charges should be filed against Soroka.

Pompa called the accusations of institutional racism "ludicrous," and said Tatum had "exaggerated the facts" about the Boles incident.

Tatum said Pompa's criticism is "insensitive and racist," and he continues to protest the district's handling of the initial incident. Pompa did not respond to Tatum's Saturday email, which Tatum forwarded to the Star-Telegram.

"I don't have anything to say to Rev. Tatum," Pompa said on Wednesday. "I think my actions and deeds speak for me. I don't have any doubts about my integrity, but I'll defend the district's integrity from anybody's attacks."

Tatum said he plans to speak at the Arlington school board meeting tonight. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. at the AISD Administration Building, 1203 W. Pioneer Parkway. "We're going to ask him [Pompa] to resign," Tatum said, "and if he doesn't resign, we're going to ask people to stop spending money in Arlington."

Shirley Jinkins, 817-390-7657

Twitter: @startelegram

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