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Middle school teacher suspended for allegedly prohibiting student from speaking Spanish: 'English is spoken in this class, period'
Screenshot of NBC12 Richmond YouTube video

Middle school teacher suspended for allegedly prohibiting student from speaking Spanish: 'English is spoken in this class, period'

A middle school teacher has been suspended after she allegedly chastised a sixth-grade student for speaking Spanish and told her to speak only English going forward.

Late last month, a Spanish-speaking radio station in Richmond, Virginia, shared an audio clip which seemed to show a teacher at Boushall Middle School firmly asking a student to speak English only in her classroom. "English is spoken in this class, period," the unidentified teacher apparently told an unnamed female student.

The girl, who claims that Spanish is her native language, later told a news reporter that she had been joking in Spanish with a friend when the teacher scolded her. "Right, well go back to wherever that Spanish-speaking country is and speak it. When you in America, you [are] gonna speak English in the classes that are spoken here," the teacher said, according to the audio recording.

The teacher further explained that she was holding the girl to the same standard to which all other students are supposedly held. "You got kids who speak French. You got kids who speak Russian," and yet all students are expected to speak English at school, no matter which language is spoken at home, the teacher stated. "You speak [Spanish] at home, baby, with your mama and your dad and whoever else is there," the teacher continued.

The teacher also repeatedly stated that the school district would support her English-only rule, and she may have been convinced that it would since English is the official language of the commonwealth. However, school district policy prohibits discrimination based on "ethnicity" and "national origin," among other characteristics, and the teacher has since been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation.

The district even issued a statement which implied that the teacher's behavior was in some way racist. "Racism, bigotry, and intolerance of any kind will not be tolerated at Richmond Public Schools," RPS Chief Wellness Officer Renesha Parks wrote in part. The racial and ethnic identities of the teacher remain unclear.

According to the Daily Mail, 38% of BMS students are English-language learners, most of whom speak Spanish at home. News report footage from the school shows several prominent signs written in both Spanish and English.

Richmond middle school teacher on leave after 'English-only' commentyoutu.be

On May 1, the mother of the girl embroiled in the controversy attended a school board meeting to express her outrage at the way her daughter was treated. "The day this happened, my daughter came home and locked herself in her room and wouldn’t stop crying," the woman said in Spanish, adding, "We as parents have to be willing to defend our children."

The girl expressed similar sentiments in English to an NBC reporter. "I just wanted that no other Hispanic kid would go through the same thing that I did," she said.

Jenny Aghomo, vice president of the Richmond Region League of United Latin American Citizens, said she was "appalled" but not surprised by the conversation heard on the recording. "We’ve had a number of families come forward and say, ‘This has been happening to my child, this thing has been happening to my child, and I just don’t know what to do. I have no one to talk to,'" Aghomo claimed. Aghomo and others in LULAC want to see "mandatory" cultural training for RPS teachers and staff. "I don’t have all the answers," she continued, "but I do know something has to change and maybe it has to start with this teacher."

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Cortney Weil

Cortney Weil

Sr. Editor, News

Cortney Weil is a senior editor for Blaze News.
@cortneyweil →