On April 8, 1976, students of Mecca Elementary, Dateland Middle School, and Coachella Valley High School walked out of classes, protesting discriminatory treatment of Chicano students. Chicano students and teachers had long endured the physical, mental/emotional, and even sexual abuse from Anglo teachers and administrators, often justified as “punishments”. For teacher Yolanda Esquivel, the limit was colleague Jane Coffey striking her, after witnessing Coffey push a Chicana student. Esquivel was accused of lying by Principal Don Cochran and denied the right to file a report. Esquivel organized the community group Community Coalition for Alternatives in Education (CCAE). The group defended Chicano students against abuse and advocated for bilingual education. The walkouts forced the district to address the abuse—Jane Coffey resigned, and Don Cochran was reassigned to a non-teaching position. The teacher organizers, including Esquivel, were fired. Soon after the district began bilingual education programs.
The Anglo teachers and administrators in Coachella Valley acted as vigilantes, whose role is to police Mexican bodies within personal contexts. The CCAE did the same: community members acted within personal contexts to hold schools accountable for providing a safe learning environment. Discrimination happens informally, and so activism too should take this appearance.