U.S. News

Texas teacher faces backlash for telling student to 'speak English'

(Reuters) - A Latino civil rights group on Friday called for a Texas teacher to be banned from instructing students after she was shown on video appearing to tell a Latino high school pupil to “speak English; we’re in America.”

The video, which was posted online by local television, shows a white, female substitute teacher at the predominantly Latino Socorro High School near El Paso, Texas, making the comment on Tuesday as she asks the male student to hand over his mobile phone in a classroom.

The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) said the comment harked back to last century when, until 1969, Texas law banned Spanish from being spoken in public schools.

“It is abominable that this institutionalized racism against the Hispanic community in Texas hasn’t ended,” said LULAC National President Domingo Garcia in a statement calling for the teacher to be banned.

Socorro Independent School District spokesman Daniel Escobar said in an email the incident in the video was being investigated.

“Appropriate action, per our employee code of conduct policies, will be taken,” Escobar said.

The student, identified as Carlos Cobian by El Paso ABC affiliate ABC-7, told the station the teacher made the comment after he walked into class watching a soccer match on his phone.

Cobian said she asked for the device, and he responded in Spanish, saying “Por qué?” (Why?).

“For her to come to teach at Socorro, being a sub, like 90% of the students here are Mexicans and Latinos,” Cobian told ABC-7, adding that he believed her comment was racist.

Reporting By Andrew Hay; Editing by Cynthia Osterman