A left-wing Hispanic group is calling for the resignation of a member of the Hamilton County School Board after that school board member noted a vast increase in the number of Hispanic students enrolled in county schools.
“We had about 8,000 Hispanic students last school year, and at last count the number was 8,671 this year,” Rhonda Thurman told The Chattanoogan in August. “They arrive every day at schools like Howard in groups of five or more. It is mind-boggling to me the burden it puts on the schools, the teachers and the taxpayers.”
Thurman also said the Hispanic students who do not speak English are pulling resources away from English-speaking students.
“Teachers tell me they cannot give the attention they deserve to the English-speaking students because they have to devote so much time to try to help the Hispanic students catch up,” she said. “It’s not fair to the teachers, who have become really frustrated.”
But left-wing group Semillas, which describes itself as “a community grassroots organization dedicated to creating a culture in Chattanooga where all individuals are equipped with the tools, knowledge, and education necessary to bring about change in their communities,” took exception with Thurman noting the uptick in Hispanic students and the feedback she has received from Hamilton County teachers.
Now, the group is demanding her resignation.
“On August 23, 2022, School Board Member Rhonda Thurman made a statement to Chattanoogan where she said Latinx students are a burden on Hamilton County schools,” the group said on its Facebook.
“It’s no secret that our immigrant and Latinx communities in Chattanooga have grown tremendously and made a positive impact on our city,” it continued. “Similarly, it’s no secret to all of Chattanooga and the School Board that Rhonda Thurman has a long history of ethics violations and attacks on students and marginalized communities.”
The group did not elaborate on the claim that Thurman has a “history of ethics violations.”
It did, however, make the following demands:
- May Rhonda Thurman RESIGN from the Hamilton County School Board IMMEDIATELY and issue an immediate apology to Latino students and everyone she has attacked during her long time on the Board.
- That Hamilton County School Board creates a group composed of: Latinx students and parents, their educators, board members and administrators to begin open and real conversations about the issues facing the community . As part of this plan, we demand immediate investment in counselors, therapists, mental health specialists and trauma-informed translators for ALL Hamilton County schools that require them.
- Have the School Board enact updated Code of Ethics policies that prohibit any form of language, bullying, or behavior of School Board members that is less respectful than the standard they are subjected to students and educators.
The group also started a petition demanding Thurman’s resignation. At the time of publication, that petition had 695 signatures. Its listed goal is 1,000 signatures.
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