- The Washington Times - Friday, August 8, 2014

The Texas principal who was placed on administrative leave and then fired for telling Hispanic students at her middle school that they should speak English in the classroom can now speak freely — the gag order has expired — and says that her request only mirrored what’s written in state law.

Amy Lacey was placed on administrative leave in 2013 after she asked via an intercom announcement that Hempstead Middle School students should speak English in the classroom. She shortly after learned that the school board declined to renew her contract and would be firing her.

Meanwhile, reports swirled that Ms. Lacey had banned Spanish from the school campus, rocking national headlines.

But Ms. Lacey’s attorney, Mark Robinett, said that’s not true — that “there was no ban,” the Houston Chronicle reported.

“There were no consequences for speaking Spanish in class,” he told the newspaper. “In fact, Ms. Lacey stated her respect for the Hispanic culture and language.”

Ms. Lacey herself is finally allowed to tell her story. A gag order that was imposed on her during the school board’s investigation of the matter has finally expired, and the former Hempstead principal wrote a letter to the Houston newspaper, explaining her side of the story.

“I informed students it would be best to speak English in the classrooms to the extent possible, in order to help prepare them for [state] tests,” she wrote, the Daily Mail reported. “It is important to note that I did not ban the use of Spanish anywhere in the school or at any time. … Teachers had reported to me that they had experienced instances in which students had been asked to stop talking during instruction, and they responded that it was their right to speak Spanish — ignoring the fact that they shouldn’t have been speaking [in any language] during class without permission. The perception of the teachers was that students were being disrespectful and disrupting learning, and they believed they could get away with it by claiming racism.”

Ms. Lacey said the incident was blown way out of proportion — and that she only advocated what Texas states in its code as law.

“This is in keeping with Title 19, Texas Administrative Code 89.1201 c,” she wrote, in the Houston Chronicle.

That code section, as reported by Inquistir.com, reads: “English is the basic language of this state. Public schools are responsible for providing a full opportunity for all students to become competent in speaking, reading, writing and comprehending the English language. … The mastery of basic English skills is a prerequisite for effective participation in the state’s educational program. Using English to the extent possible would also allow non-Spanish-speaking teachers a better opportunity to assess understanding and learning.”

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

Copyright © 2022 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide