Things That Matter

A Latino Student Was Told To ‘Speak English’ By A Substitute Teacher And Now The Video Is Going Viral

A Soccoro, Texas high school teacher is now under investigation following an incident where she told a Latinx student to “Speak English, we’re in America.” The moment was captured on camera, according to KVIA. The teacher, who was a substitute, even called security on the teenager who was identified as Carlos Cobian. 

This is the second recorded scandal at Soccoro High School. Last week, a teacher was caught on camera slapping a female student on the butt. He was subsequently put on paid administrative leave as the district investigates. 

Recordings of racist incidents against Latinxs have made headlines since the Trump administration began to double down on harmful rhetoric about Latinxs and immigrants. Meanwhile, the number of anti-Latinx hate crimes soared in 2018 according to the FBI. This is just one new example of how the President’s rhetoric hurts Latinxs. 

KVIA spoke with Cobian who explained what went down.

https://www.facebook.com/watch/?ref=external&v=1381997688636949

Cobian says he entered the classroom while watching a football game of Argentina playing Uruguay on his phone. According to him and what can be seen in the video, other students were also on the phone but the teacher singled him out. The substitute came over to Cobian and tried to take his phone from him. 

“I saw that she was gonna get it so I got it too and I told her ‘no why, no porque?’ and that’s when she said talk English, we’re in America,” Cobian said.

Students at the Socorro Independent School District are allowed to have phones on campus for school use, however it does require permission from a teacher. According to the district’s code of conduct, “When students are not using the devices for approved instructional purposes, all devices must be turned off during the instructional day. Violations may result in withdrawal of privileges and other disciplinary action.” 

Cobian still doesn’t know why she singled him out, but her response left him feeling understandably angry.

“I was shocked, and then I got a little mad,” he said. “For her to come to teach at Socorro, being a sub, like 90% of the students here are Mexicans and Latinos.”

The teacher accused Cobian of pushing her. The video showed he never even tried.

Things escalated when the teacher called security on Cobian. She even said he tried to push her. Security removed him from class to question him, but when he began to explain the picture became clearer. 

“I thought it was a little racist because you know, we live on the border and it’s all Mexican, Latinos,” Cobian told WIVB. 

Fortunately, some of his peers were recording everything when it was happening. The recordings would clear Cobian’s name.

“She actually tried to say that I pushed her, but I didn’t and some of the videos come out that I didn’t really push her,” he said. 

Cobian said that when the security guards watched the video they seemed to believe him. He did not receive any disciplinary action from the school. 

“The incident in the video is being investigated. Appropriate action, per our employee code of conduct policies, will be taken,” a spokesperson for the school district told KVIA. 

League of United Latin American Citizens issued a statement calling for the substitute teacher’s banning. 

“The substitute teacher caught on camera telling a student to ‘Speak English’ must be permanently banned from instructing students effective immediately. Teachers and all school staff are meant to be leaders and mentors to our children – not racists who harbor anti-immigrant sentiments,” said Domingo Garcia, national president of LULAC. 

Garcia noted that for nearly 50 years, Spanish was banned in public schools in Texas — the state that used to be a part of Mexico — making the teacher’s comments all the more egregious. According to the Texas Star-Telegram, legislators banned Spanish under the premise that it prevented students from embracing American culture and English. However, statistics from 1967 showed that 89 percent of Latinxs essentially dropped out of school because of the rule.

“From 1918 until the Texas Bilingual Act in 1969, Texas laws banned Spanish in public schools and many of us remember personally that this was enforced with humiliating corporal punishment in schools. It is abominable that this institutionalized racism against the Hispanic community in Texas hasn’t ended,” Garcia said. 

Students who spoke Spanish when it was banned received humiliating punishments — it’s no wonder they would drop out. 

“The days when a Hispanic student’s mouth would get washed with soap for speaking Spanish are long gone,” said Mary Yañez, El Paso district director of LULAC. “We ask the Socorro Independent School District to investigate this matter and if racial comments were made by the teacher, she should be banned from teaching.”

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