A Richmond middle school teacher was suspended as a student recorded her racist rant. In the five-minute audio clip, the teacher, among other things, says, “Go back to wherever that Spanish-speaking country is and speak it.”
The radio station played the audio
A local Hispanic radio station played the audio clip obtained from the Boushall Middle School in Richmond, Virginia. The teacher was not identified, but the local Hispanic community claims the incident was not surprising.
The student was calm
The teacher also told the student, “English is spoken in this class, period.” A student replied, My native language is Spanish, so I can talk in Spanish,” but the female student never finished, as the teacher cut them off.
The teacher went on a rant, “Right, well, go back to wherever that Spanish-speaking country is and speak it. She continued, “But when you are in America, you gonna speak English in the classes that are spoken here.”
The teacher’s behavior only worsened
After some time, the student said, “I didn’t know speaking my own language was wrong.” The teacher’s reply was condescending, “You speak it at home, baby, with your mama and your dad and whoever else is there.”
The student was consistent
They stated, “I can speak it anywhere.” But the teacher fired back, “You not going to speak it in here. And I’m gonna prove to you that you’re gonna write that essay, and you’ll never do it again.” Around 44% of the students at Boushall Middle School are Hispanic. English learners are 38% of all students.
The child’s mother spoke up
After the child was sent to the office, the mom shared what had happened during a school board meeting. The mom spoke Spanish and said, “The day this happened, my daughter came home and locked herself in her room and wouldn’t stop crying.” The worried mom added, “We as parents have to be willing to defend our children.”
Dr. Rachel Gomez, The League of United Latin American Citizens’ Richmond chapter President, spoke about the issue. Gomez said, “District-wide, this is a systemic issue that is not being handled properly, and that is why LULAC requested a task force on the status of Latino and English-Language Learner (ELL) students.”
The school issued a statement
In a statement, the school said, “Racism, bigotry, and intolerance of any kind will not be tolerated at Richmond Public Schools.”
The school suspended the teacher
“The employee is currently on administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation by the Employee Relations team.,” the school’s statement said.
The school board stands by its non-discriminatory policy, writing that it “unequivocally condemns all forms of racism, discrimination, and prejudice, issues which are deeply ingrained in our society and must be challenged and dismantled in all their forms.”
In the early 2000s, some states passed “English-only” laws, dictating that schools only use English in class and avoid “bilingual education” programs. Virginia is not among those states, though English is the official language.
By definition, Spanish in the classrooms should be valid
The school division’s policies and Student Code of Responsible Ethics forbid discrimination, and the state allows bilingual studies, there are no explicit policies regarding languages.
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