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Texas principal bans speaking Spanish, stirs controversy

Dec. 4, 2013 at 2:34 PM

HOUSTON, Dec. 4 (UPI) -- A principal at a Texas middle school has stirred a controversy after announcing students are not allowed to speak Spanish in class.

Amy Lacey, principal at Hempstead Middle School, has been placed on administrative leave because the school district has no policies restricting the use of Spanish, KHOU-TV, Houston, reported Tuesday.

No students have been punished.

Waller County, in which Hempstead is located, has one of the fastest growing Hispanic populations in the country. More than 50 percent of the students at Hempstead Middle School are Hispanic.

Lacey announced on the school's public address system Nov. 12 students may no longer speak Spanish in class, students said, but the superintendent did not send out a letter to parents until Monday.

The letter, which said "neither the district or any campus has any policy prohibiting the speaking of Spanish," has not fully resolved the controversy. Some students said the principal's announcement opened the door to discrimination, the report said.

"There's one teacher that said, if you speak Spanish in my class, I'm going to write you up," eighth grader Tiffani Resurez said.

School district spokeswoman Laurie Bettis released a written statement saying the district is "committed to efficiently and effectively resolving this matter."

"We are continuing to 'Create a Culture of Excellence' which includes embracing all students of all cultural and diverse backgrounds," the statement said. "Our priorities are our students."

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