SOUTH AUSTIN, TX — More than 60 students who walked out of a South Austin middle school on Wednesday did so in protest of a teacher’s comment at a bilingual pupil to "go back to Mexico," according to reports.
The Fulmore Middle School students detailed to the Austin American-Statesman the reason for their mass walkout. They said a teacher in a social and emotional learning class made the comment to the student for speaking Spanish in the classroom.
Students told the newspaper the comment was made two weeks ago, but they protested for what they perceived to be an inadequate response from administrators. Fulmore Principal Lisa Bush subsequently issued a prepared statement acknowledging the teacher’s comment while insisting corrective measures were taken in response.
Bush said "…an adult staff member made an insensitive statement to a student. Comments such as that are not tolerated at any level and appropriate actions were taken." In an ensuing letter to the school board on Wednesday, Austin ISD superintendent Paul Cruz said the teacher was placed on administrative leave.
Cruz estimated 60 students participated in the protest, but video of the walkout appears to show many more participants. Some reports indicate the school building was slightly damaged during the protest, including a broken window. Bush added campus police were dispatched to the campus as a precaution during the peaceful protest that lasted about 40 minutes.
School board member Geronimo Rodriguez, whose district encompasses South Austin, said he was certain the incident would be thoroughly investigated.
"I am confident the superintendent and his team are gathering the facts and responding appropriately," Rodriguez said. "I expect a quick response. This is a teachable moment for our diverse community regarding our culture of treating people with dignity and respect."
They’re walking the halls, chanting "Say it loud. Say it clear. Refugees are welcome here!" (Video sent to me by niece, a student there) pic.twitter.com/WwHWn5b2bh— marissa (@MarissaElayne) November 15, 2017
A teacher at Fulmore Middle School in Austin, Texas told a Spanish speaking student to "go back to Mexico." The students are angry that nothing has happened to the teacher, so they’re protesting. Administrators called the police. Crazy crazy!— marissa (@MarissaElayne) November 15, 2017
Our educators should not be the ones who limit our success. Disappointed, but thankful this student wasn’t left to deal with this alone. Strength in numbers is what we need the most. https://t.co/DlhLRpCAUQ— Kevin. (@kevinxsanchez) November 16, 2017
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