School Secretary Says She Was Fired for Speaking Spanish

Filed under: In The News

A school employee in North Carolina claims she was fired because she continued to speak Spanish to Latino parents after a school administrator banned her from doing so.

Ana Ligia Mateo was hired as a bilingual secretary at Devonshire Elementary in 2006, according to the Charlotte Observer, but lost her job two years later when principal Suzanne Gimenez allegedly told staff members "she would no longer allow Spanish to be spoken to parents by any of the faculty or staff."

Mateo is suing Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools because she claims she was forced out when she continued to speak Spanish to parents who could not understand English, the Observer reports.The suit alleges that she was told repeatedly to stop and was dismissed in September 2008. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled in June that there is "reasonable cause" to believe the district violated her civil rights.A committee of volunteers appointed by the school board are preparing to present a report urging the district to hire more bilingual "parent advocates" who can assist non-English speaking parents. The report says nothing about schools refusing to let bilingual staff members speak Spanish to parents, the paper reports.

The lawsuit has been moved to federal court. According to the newspaper, 42 percent of Devonshire Elementary's student body is Hispanic. The school district's own Web site reports that it has a "diverse group of students who represent 160 countries" and takes pride in their various cultural and ethic backgrounds.

Related: Should America Be English-Only -- or Speak More Than One Language?


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