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First Latina on Bethlehem Area School Board not running for re-election

By Rosa Duarte, Reporter, RDuarte@wfmz.com
Published On: Nov 19 2013 09:10:57 PM CST
Updated On: Nov 20 2013 09:33:43 PM CST

The first to represent her district and the first Latina on the Bethlehem Area School Board, Aurea Ortiz, is stepping down.

BETHLEHEM, Pa. -

The first to represent her district and the first Latina on the Bethlehem Area School Board, Aurea Ortiz, is not running for re-election.

In 2006, Bethlehem city residents filed a lawsuit against the school district claiming discrimination against Hispanic candidates running for seats on the school board.

“It was because of justice, it was because there were two Latinas that were going for school board positions and they were turned down and that to me was wrong,” said Ortiz.

The lawsuit alleged that directors filled a vacancy with a white candidate neglecting those two Hispanic applicants.

A settlement would create three regional seats; one of those seats, Region 1, which represents Freemansburg, Fountain Hill, and South Bethlehem is where Aurea Ortiz was elected.

“The historical part was not because I was the first Latino on the board, it was because it was the first time they redistrict everything and I the first one to have one of those regions,” she said.

After four years on the board, Aurea says she's pleased with the progress the district has made and now she's letting someone else, Rogelio Ortiz take her place.

Even though they have the same last name, the two aren't related but share the same vision when it comes to representing diversity within the district.

Rogelio Ortiz says one of his plans is to use community centers like the center at Lynnfield Houses in South side Bethlehem run by he and his wife, as an outreach to students especially when there's cuts to the district.

“At least I'll be that voice for them and I'll make sure that every kind of cut that's being made is going to be a in a good way and not in a bad way that's going to effect our children,” he said.

Aurea Ortiz attended her last school board meeting Monday night; Rogelio Ortiz will be sworn in on December 2nd.