Denver Public School’s Chief Schools Officer Susana Cordova wrote the following in response to Nat Stein’s article “Parents complain Denver elementary school principal humiliates Latino students.“
To the editor:
We take very seriously any allegations of racism or inappropriate actions with the students we serve. We are investigating the concerns raised by parents at Cheltenham Elementary, both in our meetings with them and in a recent article published in The Colorado Independent.
District officials learned of parent concerns about children eating lunch on trays on the floor of the school’s main office in April, when parents requested a meeting with the principal and her supervisor, Instructional Superintendent Jermall Wright. Principal Rao has been clear that her intent was not to punish students by having them eat on the floor; instead, she said students referred to the office during the lunch hour would bring their food to the office while waiting to speak to the school dean. Because there is limited seating, some students sat on the floor to eat.
Regardless of the intention, it is clear these actions greatly upset parents and families at Cheltenham and struck a chord in the Latino community with those who recall an incident 23 years ago in which students at another Denver elementary school were forced to eat lunch on the cafeteria floor as punishment. We deeply apologize for this. Principal Rao agreed in April to stop this practice.
We are working with the families at Cheltenham to build the school their children and our community deserve.
— Susana Cordova
Photo credit: Dvorty Girl, Creative Commons, Flickr.