SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Utah) – Michael Clara doesn’t mind dressing up as a Mexican stereotype.
The Hispanic school board member in the Salt Lake City school district says he’s trying to make a point.

“It’s my way of protesting in the school board meeting,” says Clara.
Over the past two months Clara has changed into the controversial “Frito bandito” character that was once used by Frito Lay.

“My point was as the only ethnic minority serving on the board I don’t see other board members treated this way,” he said. “But somehow I am singled out and treated out as a criminal.”

He was referring to another school board member who allegedly asked a police officer to sit in a prominent spot at the meeting. She allegedly feared him over his past comments.

“It was inappropriate to brand me as a criminal or stigmatize me because you disagreed me on a public policy issue,” he said.

The school board member did not return ABC 4 Utah’s email. But a spokesman for the Salt Lake City school district says an officer is always posted at board meetings.

“We’ve been having one for years,” said Jason Olsen.

But Clara said the officer was placed in a prominent spot at the board meeting as if to send a message to him. He said he’s being treated just like minority students in Salt Lake City’s west side.

“We put police on a collision course with ethnic minorities,” he said.

Example, he said there’s no police officers stationed at this Clayton Middle School on the east side. But he said there is one at Glendale Middle School on the west side. Recently, a parent told him of her son taken to the office by a police officer for playing music in the hallway.

“My concern is that wouldn’t happen at Clayton because there’s no police officers to do that,” Clara said.

Olsen said police officers come to every school, even at Clayton Middle School.

“There are resource officers assigned there,” Olsen said. “It doesn’t mean they are housed there but are assigned to cover those schools as well.”

Clara is also frustrated because he said the school board won’t properly address the high number of drop outs among minorities.

“Most of our schools have seen a double digit increase in the graduation rates for Hispanic students,” Olsen said. “Are they where we want them to be? No, but they are improving.”

Clara said he has sent a letter to the Department of Justice’s civil rights division to investigate his claims. And he said he will continue to dress as the Frito bandito at school board meetings until his concerns are properly addressed.