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Richmond, Va. School Works to Repair Relationship with Latino Community

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Huguenot High School in Richmond, Va. recently made local headlines when leaders issued a long-overdue apology for luring Latino students to the cafeteria in 2013, searching their bags and threatening deportation if they didn’t comply.

But that’s in the past — though perhaps not quite forgiven and forgotten – and school leaders are trying to move on.

According to Richmond Times-Dispatch reporter Zachary Reid’s story, the “inappropriate” incident was exacerbated by the lack of Spanish-speaking staff. But the language barrier could soon be on its way to repair. Friday, Huguenot held a Parents as Educational Partners (PEP) workshop on graduation requirements and standards of learning and testing for parents of English-language learners.

“It`s a program that we try to do at all of our schools where we have high English language as a second language and student populations,” Program Coordinator Ashleigh Ramos said in an interview with CBS 6, and Huguenot fits the description. “A parent doesn’t know how to read a report card, which is often the case, how can they hold that child accountable for their progress?”

blogged earlier this month about the apology Superintendent Dana Bedden and Huguenot Principal Jafar Barakat issued for the 2013 incident. At the time of the apology, Latino students and their parents said the school district has made “strides forward” since the 2013 incident, like allotting $1 million for translation and interpretive services in the proposed budget. There’s also talk of creating a possible welcome center for non-English speaking students.