From the Virginia Latino Caucus regarding this story:
Virginia Latino Caucus Condemns Richmond Public Schools Teacher’s Treatment of Student Over Use of Spanish in the Classroom
RICHMOND, VA – The Virginia Latino Caucus (VLC) calls for Richmond Public Schools (RPS) to fully investigate the Boushall Middle School incident where a teacher forbade a student from speaking Spanish in the classroom. The instructor’s discriminatory remarks have no place in a classroom and represent a clear violation of the student’s constitutional rights.
“The VLC stands with the student who was discriminated against for speaking their native language, Spanish, in a school classroom,” said VLC Co-Chair Alfonso Lopez (D-Arlington). “In a diverse Commonwealth with over 100 languages spoken by its residents, our students should not be shamed for speaking the language of their heritage by teachers or anyone else. I call on RPS to do better and work to equip teachers with the tools needed to support, not tear down, students.”
“As a mother of four Spanish-speaking children, two of whom are still in public school, I am appalled that this is still happening in our Commonwealth,” said VLC Co-Chair Elizabeth Guzman (D-Prince William). “In Virginia, diversity is our strength and I call on RPS to do what is right.”
According to multiple parent sources and organizations like the Richmond Region League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), this alarming incident is representative of wider issues in the Richmond Public Schools system. RPS has the lowest on-time graduation rate for Hispanic students in Virginia, hovering around 45%. This is not merely an RPS issue, however, as Hispanic students’ graduation rates across the Commonwealth consistently lag behind their peers.
Virginia’s school systems must have programs in place that help bridge cultural gaps between students and teachers to better provide an effective learning environment. The VLC will continue working to ensure that all Virginia teachers are equipped with the knowledge to conscientiously engage with Virginia’s diverse student population.