DISD principal places poor rating blame on Hispanic students

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by By DAVID SCHECHTER / WFAA-TV

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Posted on July 15, 2009 at 8:01 PM

Updated Monday, Oct 19 at 3:38 PM

CONTROVERSIAL NEWSLETTER

David Schechter reports

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DALLAS - After her students failed the TAKS test, a principal in the Dallas Independent School District pinned the failure on Hispanic students at the school.

Once again, Jack Lowe Senior Elementary was rated "Academically Unacceptable."

Principal Connie Wallace sent out a newsletter to encourage her staff after the news was announced. However, she also wrote something that has spurred criticism from the Hispanic community. In the letter, Wallace wrote the poor rating "is a result of the underperformance of our Hispanic students in Science."

"The initial reaction was 'wow,'" said Beatrice Alba Martinez, director of the North Texas Chapter of LULAC, a Hispanic rights group.

"You should never target students, and I felt like the students were being targeted," she said.

A spokesperson for the school district would not say if it was inappropriate to single out Hispanic students, but a statement was issued.

"The language in question was part of an internal newsletter that was intended only for staff at the school," the spokesperson wrote. "The Texas accountability system requires (a breakdown) of scores by student groups."

Martinez said since the principal had that breakdown for the entire student body, she should have shared the performance of all student groups, not just Hispanics.

"It's not indicative of good leadership," she said. "... [The] administrator used poor judgment in what she wrote."

Martinez hopes DISD will use this opportunity to encourage more multi-cultural understanding at the school. The district will not say if this will lead to any punishment for the principal.

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