Texas Principal Fired Over Wanting English Spoken In Classrooms Speaks Out

Tara Dodrill

The Texas principal fired after stating she wanted English spoken in the classroom is now sharing her side of the story. Amy Lacey was the principal of Hempstead Middle School until she made national news headlines earlier this year after instructing students not to speak Spanish in the classroom. The Hempstead Independent School Board placed her on administrative leave and opted against renewing her contract.

Amy Lacey became the poster child in the debate about English as a second language (ESL) students in American schools. The terms of the Texas principal's administrative leave include prohibiting her from speaking to the media about being chastised for requiring English be spoken in the classroom.

The time frame for the gag order has apparently been lifted and the former Hempstead Middle School principal is now eager to tell her side of the story:

"As many know, on November 12, 2013, I made an announcement over the school's intercom in which I stated that the academic language in Texas is English, and the STAAR [State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness] test and TELPAS [Texas English Language Proficiency Assessment System] are in English. I informed students it would be best to speak English in the classrooms to the extent possible, in order to help prepare them for these tests. This is not my rule or that of the district, but per state regulation, consistent with Section 29.051 of the Texas Education Code. Using English to the extent possible would also allow non-Spanish-speaking teachers a better opportunity to assess understanding and learning. This is in keeping with Title 19, Texas Administrative Code 89.1201 c."
"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."

The Hempstead Middle School former principal also added:

"It is important to note that I did not ban the use of Spanish anywhere in the school or at any time, even though 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."

[Image Via theoaklandjournal.com]