EDGEWATER — A Senn High School teacher accused of telling a Hispanic student to “go back to your country” after she refused to stand for the national anthem has been removed from the school, according to a note sent to Senn families.
The teacher has been removed from the school pending the completion of a Chicago Public Schools investigation into the alleged incident, Senn Principal Mary Beck said in a note to school families sent Thursday night. A CPS spokesperson confirmed the teacher’s removal.
A final determination has yet to be made regarding the teacher’s future employment status at the school, Beck wrote.
The decision comes after students at Senn staged a large sit-in Wednesday, protesting the teacher’s alleged comments and the school’s handling of the incident.
“I know this week has been difficult for our school, and I want you to know that the concerns our students have expressed have been heard,” Beck said in the note.
At a school assembly held Jan. 30, two seniors at Senn joined other students in sitting through the national anthem. A teacher came up to the girls and told them to stand for the anthem or leave — before allegedly telling a student of Hispanic descent to “go back to your country,” the student said.
The same teacher is accused of discriminating against a Black student who sat through the anthem, asking if the student received free lunch and remarking that people died for her right to receive the lunch, according to the student.
The incident led to dozens of students leaving class Wednesday to stage the sit-in, where they called for the firing of the teacher and showed support for the girls who chose to sit out the anthem.
After the sit-in, Principal Beck met with the students involved in the incident, the classmates said. In her note to parents, Beck said she agreed to a number of items the students brought to her as ideas to move beyond the incident.
She agreed to implementing “student town hall” meetings so teachers can hear from students, making it easier for students to report issues with staff and increased cultural training for staff, according to the note.
“I am committed to implementing the agreements I made with our students to heal our community,” Beck wrote.
The Chicago Teachers Union said in a statement Thursday that it demands “tolerance and inclusivity” from its members and all CPS staff.
“Schools are places where students, faculty, staff and administrators must be respected and treated with dignity, and where students learn to be civically minded and use their voices and their power to defend themselves or anyone close to them,” CTU spokesperson Ronnie Reese said. “That is the whole point of public education.”
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