WICHITA, Kan. (AP) Officials at St. Anne Catholic School here have gotten mixed reactions to their requirement that students speak only in English while at school.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Wichita says the school enacted the policy to deal with Spanish-speaking students who were using their native language to bully other children or insult teachers and administrators without their knowledge.
But some parents have complained about the policy, saying St. Anne is discriminating against Spanish speakers.
"What is the message we're sending, since we have a lot of Spanish-speaking parents participating in school and church, then you're telling their kids not to speak Spanish?" said Clara Silva, a former liaison to the school's Hispanic parents whose sixth-grade son now attends another Catholic school because of the policy.
Administrators at the school enacted the policy themselves. While the diocese school policy handbook forbids bullying and recommends a range of disciplinary actions, restricting language is not one of them.
Of St. Anne's 243 students, 75 are Hispanic, 27 are Asian and two are black, school officials said.
Bob Voboril, the diocese's school superintendent, recently sent out a letter seeking to clarify the language policy and express support for it.
"English is the language used in school, not because it is better than Spanish or Vietnamese, but because it is the language that the children must (use to) read textbooks, pass state examinations, succeed in college and be employed," read the letter, which was translated into Spanish.