A middle school principal in Hempstead, Texas is now on administrative leave after allegedly forbidding students to speak Spanish while in class in order to prevent disruptions.
According to students at Hempstead Middle School, who’s student population is 50% Hispanic, on Nov. 12, Principal Ann Lacey made the announcement over the intercom, but it took two weeks for the superintendent to send a letter home stating that “neither the district or any campus has any policy prohibiting the speaking of Spanish.”
Although Lacey is currently on leave, there are some students who still feel afraid to speak their language in school.
“People don’t want to speak it no more, and they don’t want to get caught speaking it because they’re going to get in trouble,” said sixth-grade student Kiara Lozano.
A number of students believe the principal’s announcement has given some teachers and fellow classmates a hall pass to discriminate.
“There’s one teacher that said, if you speak Spanish in my class, I’m going to write you up,” said eighth-grader Tiffani Resurez.
More than 50 percent of the students enrolled at Hempstead Middle School are Hispanic. That’s according to greatschools.org.
Students said the school has not resolved the confusion surrounding the principal’s attempt to ban the Spanish language in class.
“She was like no speaking Spanish,” explained eighth-grader Yedhany Gallegos. “I was like that’s my first language. She said, well you can get out.”
Gallegos and many of her classmates grew up speaking Spanish at home. She said speaking Spanish with her friends at school comes as second nature.
Some parents feel the district has yet to get to the root of the problem.
“Why are you punishing our children like this?” asked mother Cynthia Zamora.
The school district sent out a memo ensuring parents and students that the incident is currently under investigation:
“We are continuing to ‘Create a Culture of Excellence’ which includes embracing all students of all cultural and diverse backgrounds. 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.”