A Texas principal that refused to let her students speak Spanish has been told she cannot return to her job after the school board decided that her actions were not aligned with the school’s values and teachings.
According to reports, Hempstead Middle School Principal Amy Lacey took to the loudspeaker on Nov. 12 of last year to tell her students that they were no longer allowed to speak Spanish on campus. More than 50 percent of the children at the school are reportedly Hispanic.
Following the incident, Lacey was placed on paid administrative leave while the school board determined whether or not she should be allowed back at the school. As of this week, the board ultimately decided that she should not return to her position.
"When you start banning aspects of ethnicity or cultural identity, it sends the message that the child is not wanted: 'We don't want your color. We don't want your kind,'” said Augustin Pinedo, director of the League of United Latin American Citizens Region 18. "They then tend to drop out early."
At the time of the incident, an eighth-grade student said that she was told to either stop speaking Spanish or leave school.
“She was like, 'No speaking Spanish,'” said student Yedhany Gallegos. “I was like, 'That's my first language.' She said, 'Well, you can get out.'”
Following the November incident, school board spokeswoman Laurie Bettis released a statement notifying angry parents that the principal was placed on leave during the investigation.
“We are continuing to ‘Create a Culture of Excellence’ which includes embracing all students of all cultural and diverse backgrounds,” reads the statement from Bettis. “Our priorities are our students. The district has received allegations regarding this issue and the district is investigating the matter. At this time the administrator is on administrative leave with pay until the investigation is completed and appropriate action is determined. This is all we can say at this time as there is a pending investigation on this matter. The district is committed to efficiently and effectively resolving this matter with as little disruption to our students and their learning environment as possible.”
Reports also claim that local civil rights advocates are calling on the Department of Justice and the FBI to investigate possible civil rights violations after they say Lacey’s suspension may have launched a campaign to intimidate and threaten Hispanics in the area.