Attempt to ‘Sue’ Child Advocate’s Mouth Shut
Court Date Scheduled for Local Child Protection Advocate
Oceanside resident, Danielle Grijalva, will be taken to court by a student exchange placement agency for her efforts to protect foreign exchange students in Minnesota.
Grijalva formed the Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students, a California-based 501 (c)(3) child protection organization five years ago. She has since been nominated twice for the City of Oceanside Martin Luther King, Jr. Civic Award; received a Certificate of Recognitionin 2008 by San Diego County Board of Supervisors for being selected to receive the Channel 10 News Leadership Award for her hard work and service to the San Diego region and is currently Ambassador of Child-Safe, Ltd., of the United Kingdom.
In June, 2009, a lawsuit was filed in San Diego County Superior Court, Council for Educational Travel USA v. Danielle Grijalva; Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students; Complaint for Damages; Slander Per Se; Libel; Temporary Restraining Order, Preliminary and Permanent; Injunction; Intentional Interference with Prospective Economic Advantage.
In 2009, a Norwegian foreign exchange student’s complaints over living conditions he endured with a host family in Minnesota prompted a state investigation by Minnesota Deputy Secretary of State Jim Gelbmann. Gelbmann called upon lawmakers to expand the state’s authority to oversee foreign exchange programs.
Star Tribune’s Aimee Blanchette’s story, “When a foreign exchange year goes bad” dated May 17, 2009, which explained, “Another Norwood parent began making inquiriesaboutEspen’s predicament, and that’s when the secretary of state’s office got involved. WhenGelbmann began contacting some of the 37 other Minnesota schoolswhereCETUSA has placed students, he found more reports ofproblemsencountered by students.”
On July 16, 2009 during WCCO News Radio 830 interview by Don Shelby with Minnesota Deputy Secretary Jim Gelbman discussed the importance protecting these visiting teens.
Part of the interview:
GELBMANN: … “Sure, Don. Probably the most common problem that happens with the CETUSA organization in multiple high schools throughout the state is that they would bring more students over to Minnesota than they had families to place them in. And, again, that is against the federal regulations, as well. Federal law requires the organization to have as signed contract with a host family one month before the student arrives in the States. And what would regularly happen is CETUSA would have three or four host families signed up for a specific school and five or six students would be brought over, and then CETUSA would frantically search for host families for the students. In one case that was documented actually WCCO TV a number of years ago, I think back in 2006 um, one CETUSA organization, uh, uh, coordinator had six students living in her basement, had six foreign exchange students living in her basement because she couldn’t find host families for them —
SHELBY: And that is violation of law —
GELBMANN: And that is a violation of law right then and there.”
To read entire interview:
CETUSA is allegedly blaming Danielle Grijalva, Director of the Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students (CSFES) for the attention given to the vital importance keeping foreign exchange students protected and safe. “Foreign exchange students deserve a positive impression of our country.” she said.
Director Grijalva, remains firm, “Abuse by those in positions of trust will not be tolerated.”
“Do I believe this is an intimidation tactic? Absolutely.” said Danielle Grijalva. She continued, “Let me emphasize that children’s safety must be first and foremost in foreign exchanges and every other aspect of education. We want to ensure that visitors to our country enjoy a safe and enriching academic and cultural experience that builds bridges for future collaboration, be it social, educational or economic.”
Court date scheduled Friday, October 22, 2010 at 1:30 pm, San Diego Superior Court, North County Division, Dept. N27, 325 S. Melrose Drive in Vista, CA.
Trial date scheduled December 10, 2010 at 8:30 am, San Diego Superior Court, North County Division, Dept. N27,325 S. Melrose Drive in Vista, CA.