The Los Angeles Unified School District has decided to address the complaints and frustrations expressed by cafeteria workers who have reportedly been told they can only speak English during school hours. The sign which reads, “During works hrs we the cafe have a English only rule for safety reasons,” was posted several weeks ago at the Harvard Elementary School in Koreatown. Needless to say, the workers definitely weren’t pleased with the directive, CBS Los Angeles reports.
Although the executive order may seem relatively justifiable, there’s one notable issue. According to the United Teachers Los Angeles and Service Employees International Union Local 99, approximately 85 percent of students identify as Hispanic and speak their native language. The majority of the school’s cafeteria staff also speaks Spanish. So they decided to voice their frustrations.
The United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) and Service Employees International Union Local 99 have also expressed their disdain in support of the faculty, reports LA School Report. Both unions released a joint statement, questioning the effectiveness of the directive since the majority of the students and faculty do not speak English.
“When the majority of cafeteria workers at the school speak Spanish, how is it safer for those workers to communicate only in English in the cafeteria or anywhere on campus?” the unions said in a joint statement. “When a great majority of cafeteria and other service workers live in the communities where they work and are often parents of children attending LAUSD schools, how does an ‘English Only’ policy promote a welcoming school community?”
Now, the school district is responding to all of the criticism. In a statement released on Thurs. October 30, the LAUSD upheld the directive order and cited the importance of it.
“In an emergency situation in a busy kitchen area where an employee is trying to communicate ‘hot food’ or a similar warning it is suggested that these phrases are spoken in English for the benefit of everyone working in the kitchen and cafeteria area.”
Monica Carazo, a district spokeswoman, also elaborated on the seemingly offensive directive. However, she offered an explanation with specifications about the order.
“It’s not that we’re telling them you can’t speak Spanish or whatever language they speak. It’s just that for safety reasons, when they’re handling food everybody has to be on the same page. If someone says, ‘Hot plate!,’ we want everyone to understand.”
Do you agree with the “English Only” policy? Share your thoughts.
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