A Student Publication of Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, CA


A Student Publication of Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, CA


A Student Publication of Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, CA


The more things change, the more they stay the same

HLPUSD Board promises to pivot toward civility despite district police physically engaging a community member
Jacob Bertram
Front entrance of the HLPUSD district office

On Tuesday, March 26, district police had an altercation with a senior citizen from the community at the Hacienda La Puente Unified School District’s regularly scheduled board meeting.

At approximately 7:50 p.m., district stakeholder Manuel Maldonado, 70, attempted to attend the district’s regularly scheduled board meeting when he was intercepted by district police who forcibly pushed Maldonado against the fence to the parking lot and was subsequently handcuffed.

As sounds from the commotion spilled into the board meeting, board president Christine Salazar called for a brief recess and asked that all attendees remained inside the board room.

The altercation was recorded by local activist and community member Sam Vasquez.



District police claim Maldonado became aggressive as soon as he was approached by officer Sergio Martinez and resisted officers’ demands throughout the altercation, which Maldonado refutes.

SAC Media has not received the officer body camera footage to substantiate either claim.

When district Chief of Police John Babbitt arrived on scene, he had his junior officers remove the handcuffs from Maldonado then apologized to him for the misunderstanding.

However, Babbitt would not allow Maldonado to enter the meeting because he had been barred from attending meetings in-person by Board President Christine Salazar.

On March 18, the district’s legal team alleged that Maldonado made threatening statements toward a teacher at the Feb. 22 meeting. He then received a cease-and-desist notice barring him from attending district meetings in-person until June 2024.



Maldonado’s comment was made in defense of a classified district employee who said that they were being harassed by a teacher and that when they brought the issue up to the district, they were then advised to move to a different school rather than any action being taken toward the alleged abuser.


Mrs. Lopez, Fairgrove Academy Librarian speaks of harassment by teacher during public comment 2/22/24


Maldonado claimed that he took the notice to the LA District Attorney and was told that the cease and desist has no legal standing since it is not backed by a court order and therefore the board had violated his first amendment rights by refusing to let him participate in the meeting.

Maldonado was allowed to attend the meeting via livestream but not in person.

Chief Babbit has not responded to SAC Media’s request for comment.

Maldonado has been very involved with the district for well over 40 years as he, his children and his grandchildren have all attended HLPUSD schools.


Manuel Maldonado holding up a plaque (Jacob Bertram)


He was also instrumental in the district’s implementation of trustee area representation as opposed to at-large board elections which historically disparaged La Puente schools through his advocacy with Chicano rights group Juntos Podemos.

A lifelong advocate for Mexican American rights, Maldonado has also spent the last 40 years hosting citizenship and voting workshops for migrant families from his home in La Puente.

Members of the Hacienda La Puente Community Coalition have called for an investigation into the incident for police misconduct, however the status and plausibility of said investigation are currently unclear.

SAC Media will continue to update as more details become available.

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About the Contributor
Jacob Bertram
Jacob Bertram, News Editor
Jacob Bertram is the News Editor. He is  in his second year at Mt. SAC and enjoys covering labor, politics, and social justice. He is also a Navy veteran.

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