This November 12, students at Hempstead Middle School came home with some troubling news: their Principal, Amy Lacey, announced over the intercom that students could no longer speak Spanish in class.
Students say that this has given others at the school, including teachers, a license to discriminate. Eighth grader Tiffani Resurez told KHOU that “there’s one teacher that said, if you speak Spanish in my class, I’m going to write you up.” A sixth grader, Kiara Lozano explained that “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.” Another eighth grader, Yedhany Gallegos was told “no speaking Spanish.” She explained that it was her first language — and was told to “Get out.”
This announcement created an atmosphere of fear for Hempstead Middle School’s Hispanic population, which comprises more than 50 percent of the school. The school district finally, after two weeks of delays, issued a letter to parents clarifying that it had no official policy banning the speaking of Spanish.
Hempstead ISD spokeswoman Laurie Bettis released a written statement that explained that Lacey was on “paid leave” while the matter is investigated:
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.
Unfortunately, the damage to these students has already been done.
Watch a report on the incident below: