A Virginia teacher has landed in hot water after asking a Latinx high school student an offensive question about her family’s immigration status.
The initial news of the incident came from Kelly Valero, the mother of a sophomore at Centreville High School in Fairfax County, VA. The Associated Press reported that Valero’s daughter—whom she asked to remain unnamed—received a surprising note from her teacher after completing an assignment responding to Donald Trump’s electoral victory earlier this month.
According to CBS affiliate WUSA, the teacher wanted students to express their feelings following the election, and had allowed the use of vulgarity to help the teens describe their emotional state.
For Valero’s daughter, the assignment was an opportunity to express both anger and fear at what a Trump presidency would mean for her and her family.
“I’m very disgusted in the election,” she reportedly wrote. Later, she explained that Trump “judges people by their race and gender,” and that he can “kiss my ass.”
“I am thankful for the life I have and my family,” Valero’s daughter said, adding parenthetically, “(which Trump is trying to deport because we are Hispanic, but whatever).”
When Valero’s daughter received the assignment back, her eye was immediately drawn to a comment from her teacher.
“Are you legal or illegal (if I may ask)?” the teacher wrote. “It depends on that factor for deportation. I hope you get to stay!”
According to WFMY, Valero’s daughter posted a picture of the essay to Snapchat, where the parents of other students saw it and complained to the school. “She thought it was a joke. So she took a picture and posted it, and actually said, ‘Is this for real?’,” Valero explained to the station.
She then requested a meeting with Centreville High administrators.
In response to media requests, Fairfax County Public Schools officials declined to name the teacher, or to discuss possible disciplinary action, but confirmed the existence of the note, writing in a statement:
The assignment asked students to write down their reactions to the Nov. 8 election results. The teacher’s written comment was inappropriate and the matter was immediately addressed by school administrators when they became aware of it.
Thought it’s hard to ascribe any intentional maliciousness to the teacher’s actions, the damage has, nevertheless, been done. While Valero’s daughter has been transferred out of the teacher’s classroom, “she can’t even walk down the same hallway that she used to walk down because she wants to avoid that teacher, who is still on the job teaching,” she explained to WUSA.
“Now [she] is the one feeling like she did something wrong because she was pulled out of her class with all her friends,” Valero continued. “These kids are scared and she’s scared because of the way the teacher made her feel.”