Aryan Nations member running for Rialto school board seat

The Press-Enterprise/August 11, 2010

A member of the Aryan Nations is running for a seat on the Rialto school board.

Daniel B. Schruender, a mobile home repairman, has qualified to appear on the Nov. 2 ballot with six other candidates for two seats on the Rialto Unified School District's governing board.

He said he is not running as an Aryan Nations candidate and insists that he is "pro white" and not a white supremacist as opponents and others have called him.

"White supremacist means, 'I think I'm better than anyone else,' " said Schruender. "I don't think we are any different than the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People or the Latinos' La Raza, which means 'race.'

"We are just here to protect white rights to make sure we don't start getting screwed," he said.

Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at Cal State San Bernardino, described Aryan Nations as "a neo-Nazi hate group. It is a Christian Identity church, which is the racist religion of white supremacy.

"They can sugarcoat their language any way they want in an interview," Levin said, "but the Aryan Nations as a group is one of the pre-eminent neo-Nazi, Christian Identity groups in the United States. It's hard to understate the historical significance of Aryan Nations to the hate movement in this country over the last half century."

Schruender acknowledged membership in Aryan Nations and is a former state president of the group.

He said he was president "in name only when I was the only member in California." He writes for the organization's members-only newsletter.

Aryan Nations, headquartered in Ohio, has Web sites in which members pose next to swastika flags and offer copies of speeches by Adolf Hitler and other World War II Nazi leaders. Among its precepts: "People who allow others not of their race to live among them will perish."

Schruender said Hitler was "pro German."

Asked whether the Nazi leader was a racist, he said, "I really can't say for certain about that because I did not know the man. His teachings were definitely 'Germans first.' "

Schruender said he realizes that he will have a tough time winning votes in a 28,000-student school district in which 73 percent of students are Latino, 17 percent are African-American and less than 6 percent are white.

He said he doesn't believe white children are underserved in the Rialto district and insists that he has nothing against Latinos or African-Americans and will not advocate changes favoring white students.

Incumbent school board member John Kazalunas, who is up for re-election, said he believes Schruender is a white supremacist.

"He can say anything he wants. That doesn't mean it's true," Kazalunas said by phone. "Don't kid me. You are."

Schruender received a bachelor of arts degree in English from Cal State San Bernardino. State records available online indicate he had a teaching credential at one time, but did not specify whether it is still valid.

Schruender said he has thought about running for the past year. He has not made up his mind how much campaigning he will do, he said.

"We need to find ways to make the kids meet the standards rather than the standards meeting the kids," he said. "We've got to concentrate on getting more help for kids whose first language is not English."

He said Rialto teachers are too quick to move students out of classes aimed at non-English speakers and into mainstream classrooms.

"Just because somebody speaks English well doesn't mean they read English well," Schruender said.

His opponents say Schruender's Aryan Nations ties will be a major issue in the campaign.

Lost in the publicity his Aryan Nations connection has gotten, Schruender said, is his platform "to help the curriculum from being dumbed down."

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