School Secretary Fired for Speaking Spanish to Parents

Latina Lista is reporting that Ana Mateo, a bilingual school secretary, has filed a lawsuit against her former employer, Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools, claiming that her civil rights were violated after she was allegedly fired for continuing to speak Spanish to parents. Charlotte’s WSOC broke the news:

The lawsuit against Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools is now in federal court because a former employee said the CMS violated her civil rights because she spoke Spanish to parents even though she was hired to be the school’s bilingual secretary…

She claims in September of 2008, when a new principal came to the school, a new rule was given to all staff members to not speak Spanish to parents. The lawsuit claims Mateo, a bilingual secretary, continued to speak Spanish to many parents, after all, the school is more than a third Hispanic, well above the district average…Within a month of the alleged new rule, Mateo was told the school accepted her resignation, even though she says she never offered to resign.

Mateo filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission which issued a response indicating that there is evidence that supports her allegations. While the school district claims it does not have an official English-only policy, WSOC also found that school staff members were telling parents that they could not even speak Spanish to one another on school grounds.

andreaIn the past, the National Education Association (NEA) has slammed English-only initiatives in schools as “government-sanctioned bigotry” that only makes it more “difficult for schools to prepare students for jobs of the future.” A study posted on NEA’s website states that school administrators “must have skills and the means for communicating with Latino parents and enlisting them as allies.” “There is a critical role for teachers and schools in helping parents to support their children’s schooling,” concludes Patricia Gándara of the University of California–Los Angeles.

Andrea Christina Nill

Republished with permission from the Wonk Room/Think Progress

Published by the LA Progressive on February 16, 2010
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About Andrea Christina Nill

Andrea Nill is an Immigration Researcher/Blogger for ThinkProgress.org and The Progress Report at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Andrea holds a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University in Political Science with a concentration in Latin American Studies and Law and Society. Prior to joining the center, Andrea was a Communications Associate at the Immigration Policy Center where she founded the blog, Immigration Impact. Andrea was also a Communications Specialist at the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), specializing in bilingual public relations. Andrea was born in Guatemala and grew up in upstate New York.