Illinois Teacher Violates Spanish-Speaking Students’ Rights


Apparently, speaking Spanish in school is breaking the code of conduct for a teacher in Illinois. Jennifer Kruger, who teaches third grade English-language learners, told her students not to speak Spanish, and if they did, they would be punished for doing so. She also threatened to retaliate against them if they complained to their parents about her.

Reportedly, parents received a letter from the principal at Emerson Elementary in Berwyn stating that Kruger will be reassigned. The undertaking stems from a letter the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) sent to the school, complaining about the issue, which also highlighted complaints from the students’ parents. The parents threatened that they would take further action if things did not change.

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MALDEF stated that Kruger’s actions may have violated the Civil Rights Act and Illinois law, which condemn discrimination. “Kruger’s conduct was unprofessional and harmful to her students’ education,” Steven Monroy, a staff attorney for MALDEF, wrote. “It is also illegal.”

The organization also stated that students who were caught speaking Spanish were forced to sit on bare floor, while those who didn’t were allowed to sit on the carpet.

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It’s unclear how Kruger planned on retaliating, but Sandra Hernandez, a spokeswoman for MALDEF told BuzzFeed News that, “she did tell students that she could be the nice teacher or the mean teacher, and implied it was up to them and their behavior, including complaining to their parents.”

In a letter to parents from the school’s principal Jean Suchy, Kruger will now be moved as a reading teacher for the remainder of the year.  Interestingly enough, Kruger’s alleged bizarre demands are unfortunately at a school where the number of Latino students is at an all time high.

According to the Illinois Report Card, 23 percent of Emerson Elementary students are English learners and 72 percent of all the students are Latino. Last year the school had a population of just 373 students.  You can read MALDEF’s letter to Emerson Elementary on here.