A principal at a Texas middle school where about half the students are Hispanic in ethnic origin has been fired for reportedly getting on the school intercom and announcing a ban on the use of Spanish in all classrooms.
The incident occurred on Nov. 12 at Hempstead Middle School in Hempstead, a tiny town about 50 miles northwest of Houston. (READ MORE: Middle school principal in mucho trouble for Spanish language ban)
The principal, Amy Lacey, had been on paid administrative leave since the incident. School district officials announced at a school board meeting on Monday that her contract will not be renewed, reports the Houston Chronicle.
In the months since Lacey was placed on leave, the aftermath has gotten pretty weird.
The incident has caused an ethnic rift in the rural area. The Mexican American Legal Defense Fund and other local advocates for Hispanic rights are requesting a civil rights investigation by the Department of Justice and the FBI because, they allege, an unidentified group of low-level terrorists is intimidating Hispanics in response to the suspension of Lacey.
For example, school district superintendent Delma Flores-Smith believes strangers are secretly snapping photos of her house and going through her garbage. She claims her yard has been vandalized in some unexplained way as well.
Also, in February, school district employees discovered that the brakes of three school buses had been damaged. Whoever did it also left a dead cat carcass, possibly as a message. One of the buses had an obviously severed brake line. The other two — which continued to carry kids — were eventually found to have finely nicked brake lines.
“A lot of this sounds like Mississippi in the 1950s and ’60s,” charged Augustin Pinedo, director of the League of United Latin American Citizens Region 18, at Monday’s school board meeting.
Pinedo also argued that it’s bad policy for public schools to prohibit language or other aspects of cultural identity.
“It sends the message that the child is not wanted: ‘We don’t want your color. We don’t want your kind.’ They then tend to drop out early,” he said, according to the Chronicle.Other activists also spoke.
“The whole world is watching,” swore local Hispanic activist and Houston-based radio host Tony Diaz. “Banning Spanish is a national issue.”
Pinedo did admit that no one can point to any hard evidence whatsoever that connects Flores-Smith’s belief that she is being watched or the brake lines incident to the suspension of Lacey. There is also apparently no evidence that the events are connected to each other.
Former school board member Kay Kloecker suggested that the problems started when Flores-Smith came to town.
“We’ve been a predominantly Hispanic district for several years now,” she told the Chronicle. “But we never had a problem until she came.”
Lacey told the Chronicle that the terms of her administrative leave prevent her from speaking to the press.