(CHICAGO) — Chicago Public Schools says it has launched an investigation after four students complained that a teacher told a Hispanic student she should go back to her own country because she didn’t stand during the national anthem.
The students at Senn High School on the city’s North Side said they heard the teacher make the comment to the girl, who is a U.S. citizen, during a Hispanic heritage assembly Jan. 30.
If the allegations are true, the teacher’s comments would be a violation of the district’s anti-discrimination policy.
“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,” district spokesman James Gherardi said.
Yesica Salazar said she and the other students stayed seated during the anthem to protest police brutality, U.S. immigration policies and anti-immigrant political rhetoric. She said the teacher asked her if her legs were broken then said she should “go back to my own country if I didn’t want to stand,” Salazar said.
“I felt very offended because my parents have fought hard to be part of this country,” the 17-year-old Salazar told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Students held a sit-in at the school on Wednesday to protest what they called the school’s slow response to their complaint as well as to urge the teacher’s removal from the school. “I felt like we were getting the run-around,” Salazar said.
Authorities have not released the teacher’s name, and the CPS has not said if any actions was taken against him.
Shakira Chacon, an 18-year-old U.S. citizen who moved to the United States from Costa Rica less than three years ago, said she was also offended by the teacher’s words. “When I heard that, that’s when I jumped in and said, ‘You don’t say that to a student, it’s disrespectful,’” she said.