Education
Pima Community College Desert Vista Campus. Photo: Pima Community College website Pima Community College Desert Vista Campus. Photo: Pima Community College website  

DC EXCLUSIVE: Administrator answers charges of student allegedly booted for favoring English

There are at least two sides to most every story—particularly the kind which end up as lawsuits.

The Daily Caller can now report the other side of the story involving Terri Bennett, the 50-year-old Pima Community College (PCC) nursing student who sued claiming that she was illegally suspended after complaining that her classmates were speaking in Spanish and orally translating English to Spanish so excessively that she was failing to learn.

The lawsuit focuses much of its ire on David L. Kutzler, the Arizona school’s nursing program director. For example, the filing claims that Kutzler responded to Bennett’s April request to limit classroom discussion to English by calling her a “bigot and a bitch.” It also asserts that Kutzler charged Bennett with “discriminating against Mexican-Americans.” (RELATED: Lawsuit: Arizona college suspended student because she wanted English-only classes)

In an email exchange with TheDC, Kutzler, a retired 20-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force, said that these allegations and many others are false.

“Terri came to me outraged because two classmates were having private conversations in class, to which she was not a party, in Spanish,” Kutzler explained to TheDC. “She demanded that I force students to speak only English to each other.”

One of Bennett’s causes of action stems from Article 28 of Arizona’s state constitution which establishes English as “the official language of the state” and forbids discrimination or penalties against anyone who “uses or attempts to use English in public or private communication.”

Kutzler emphasized his belief that the state-owned school’s administrators have “no legal or policy basis” to force anyone engaged in a private conversation to speak English.

The retired major also emphatically denies Bennett’s contention that he called her any derogatory names.

“That only happened in her mind. At one point she became exasperated and said, ‘Oh, so now I’m the bitch,’” Kutzler told TheDC. “I actually didn’t know how to respond, so I said nothing.”

Kutzler’s story also differs from Bennett’s concerning the “bigot” allegation.

“At one point in the conversation, Terri proclaimed ‘I’m not a bigot.’ I told her that trying to force people to speak only English in her presence could easily be seen as bigoted,” Kutzler said.

The nursing program director also rejected allegations of incessant in-class Spanish-speaking and oral translation from Spanish to English.