It was a tough year for students and parents at Lincoln High.

Despite multiple attempts to rebrand and restructure the school, it has yet to find a solution to low enrollment, sputtering test scores and waves of violence.

Voice of the YearBut through it all, a committed core of parents hasn’t wavered in its support for the school’s students. Within that core, Cindy Barros, president of Lincoln’s newly founded parent teacher organization, has taken a leading role rallying parents and advocating for students.

When, over the summer, the Superintendent Cindy Marten moved to appoint a new principal who parents didn’t want, it was Barros who raised questions and slowed down the process until the school could find the right leader.

At the start of the school year, when the school police officers union criticized the district for letting a student – who, last year, was involved in a high-profile fight – return to school, it was Barros who told the police officers they were out of line.

And when district officials swiftly and unilaterally gutted a program that allowed students to take courses for college credit, it was Barros who told district officials they were wrong.

“At this point, I see that there appears to be a decisive, systematic plan to humiliate and destroy Lincoln High School students and the community. There’s still a thousand questions unanswered. Parents do not know, and that’s wrong,” Barros said at a school board meeting.

Barros is still fighting for improvements, but progress is slow. Still, she’s cautiously hopeful.

“More staff are beginning to recognize (the PTO). We are being included. Some or our parents are turning out regularly to support students. Those things are encouraging. We’re making baby steps. And I think we’re making more progress than we ever have,” she said.

Barros’ consistent advocacy has revealed systemic problems that undermine efforts to turn around Lincoln. And if the school is to improve, the district and school leaders have to find a way to work more closely with parents and members of the Lincoln community. Starting, perhaps, with Barros and the PTO.

This is part of our Voice of the Year package, profiling the people who drove the biggest conversations in San Diego this year.

    This article relates to: News, Voice of the Year

    Written by Mario Koran

    Mario is an investigative reporter focused on immigration, border and related criminal justice issues. Reach him directly at 619.325.0531, or by email:

    KIm Carpender
    KIm Carpender subscriber

    I want to thank Ms. Barros for her advocacy for the students at Lincoln.  I work for the district but tutor a student from Lincoln.  One problem I have just discovered is competing after school programs.  The student I work with is part of a group called WAHUPA that supports students with dreams of college.  He also plays on the basketball team which he hopes will give him an application that is more interesting to colleges.  Now he has been told by the school that if he takes part in WAHUPA's summer program he can't play ball next year.  This seems foolish since both are important.