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Stripping students of sashes isn't only issue in Humble ISD, LULAC says

LULAC said it believes there's more to the issue beyond Hispanic sashes being taken away during graduation.

HUMBLE, Texas — The League of United American Citizens is demanding action after Houston-area Spanish Nation Honor Society students were stripped of their sashes just before they graduated.

It happened seconds before the Summer Creek High School students crossed the stage, even though the sashes had already been approved by administrators.

LULAC said it was done due to the systemic lack of support for Hispanics in the district. They believe there's more to the issue beyond the sashes being taken away.

"Why do you try to marginalize us? Why do you try to embarrass our children by taking away their sashes?" Agustin Pinedo asked.

It was a humiliating moment for the students who worked so hard to earn the right to wear the sashes. They had to volunteer for 100 hours and also maintain good grades. The sashes were approved by administrators in April, but the students said it's not the first time they were treated unfairly.

"If a certain group of people can wear something, why can't we?" student Genesis Hernandez said.

Other students were allowed to wear sashes symbolizing their accomplishments as they crossed the stage.

Humble ISD issued this response when asked if the sashes were removed due to a disconnect with the Hispanic community:

"This had nothing to do with race or culture. Students of all ethnicities participate in Spanish National Honor Society. In no way was a group targeted. Other students had items, such as college flags or sunglasses, taken away. Students not being able to wear the Spanish National Honor Society stoles was due to an honest mistake.

"A campus administrator told the teacher that the stoles were approved. That approval was not communicated to others. Additionally, the request did not go through the full approval process. This led to confusion on stage.

"We apologize to the students impacted by this unfortunate situation. While we know there is no way to get the moment back, we are reaching out to them to provide a graduation portrait of them with the stoles and to edit the commemorative video so that photos of them with the stoles are included.

"The stole was not worn at previous graduations. Humble ISD has Spanish National Honor Societies at five high schools and all of the other high schools celebrated Spanish NHS graduates with campus-approved honor cords."

LULAC believes the incident was just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to problems in the district. With nearly 40% of the students in Humble ISD being Hispanic, only 16% of the teachers are Hispanic.

One mother said no one in the front office of her child's school speaks Spanish and she also said she has a hard time getting newsletters and information in Spanish. She said she wants to be involved in her child's education.

"This is precisely the reason why we need representation and why it matters," Dr. Sergio Lira said.

Here's what Humble ISD officials said about the claim: 

"Spanish speakers are available to communicate with parents in Spanish. Translation is provided at meetings where there is interest in translation. When parents enroll their children in the district, they are asked to choose their preferred home language. The communication system used by the district translates messages into Spanish for those who selected Spanish as their preferred home language. Additionally, the district and campus websites, along with the software used by the district and schools for electronic newsletters, have a button that parents can select to have the information translated into over 100 languages, including Spanish."

LULAC is asking for a full investigation into the lack of representation for the Hispanic community. They want more resources for Latinos. They also asked for the superintendent of high schools to be removed and replaced with someone who's more sensitive to the diverse culture.

Humble ISD statement

"We value diversity. We are committed to meeting the needs of all students and diversity is a part of that. We have bilingual education that includes ESL, Spanish Immersion and Dual Language. We have a mariachi program that incorporates Hispanic culture into our fine arts."

One positive thing that came out of the controversy: The Houston Dynamo saw the KHOU 11 story and invited all of the students to their match against Austin Unified Saturday. The Spanish teacher called to let us know. Well-played, Dynamo!

Anayeli Ruiz on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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