Latino high school student says teacher told her 'go back to your country'

Latino high school student says teacher told her 'go back to your country'
© ABC 13 WZZM

Students organized a sit-in protest at a Chicago high school to rebuke a teacher who allegedly told a Latino student to "go back to your country" when she and other students refused to stand for the national anthem during a school assembly.

Mary Beck, principal at Senn High School, announced during the protest that she had notified the school district of the incident as soon as she received a report about the instructor's alleged comment, according to NBC.

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"I notified everybody within three hours of receiving the report. It is all in writing," Beck said in a video posted to Twitter. "It is all time-stamped. I did my job. I continue to follow through, based on the guidelines and policies that we have in place. Every time."

"Why is he still here?" students in the video replied to Beck, apparently referring to the teacher in question.

Yésica Salazar, 17, a senior at the high school, reported that the incident occurred during a Hispanic heritage assembly on Jan. 30, according to NBC.

Salazar said she and some other students remained seated during the national anthem to protest U.S. immigration policies, anti-immigrant rhetoric and police brutality, the news outlet reported. Two school instructors told them they would need to leave if they did not stand.

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One of the teachers allegedly asked a different senior if Salazar was eligible for a free or reduced lunch option. The student confirmed she was, and the instructor told her to stand because "people had died for this country," according to the report.

The teacher then reportedly asked Salazar if her legs were broken. She said "no" and began to explain why she was sitting, Salazar told NBC.

"Before I could finish my sentence, he responds back with the famous line: 'Go back to your country'," she said.

Salazar told the teacher she was a citizen and after an argument broke out between the two, the high schooler was asked to leave the auditorium.

Data from the 2018-2019 school year shows that Senn High School's student body is predominantly Latino and black. 42.3 percent of the student body is Latino, 25.8 percent black, 17.5 percent Asian and 11.2 percent white.

Chicago Public School (CPS) district's press secretary, James Gherardi, said it has launched an investigation regarding the teacher's alleged remark. 

"CPS is committed to fostering learning environments that embrace and support all students, and the alleged actions of the teacher in question run counter to our beliefs and priorities as a school district," the school district said in a statement to The Hill. "The district is opening an investigation into the alleged actions, and we support the students who have peacefully raised their concerns.”

The Chicago police said a 15-year-old girl was arrested at the sit-in Wednesday and charged with battery after officers stopped a quarrel between two female students. The girl allegedly pushed a 55-year-old man and caused him to fall.