Education A National Roundup

Parents Allege Kansas Districts Forbade Children to Speak Spanish

By Mary Ann Zehr — January 10, 2006 1 min read

A mother has filed a federal lawsuit against the Kansas City, Kan., school district, alleging her daughter’s principal forbade her to speak Spanish in school, violating her civil rights.

Maria Rios filed a lawsuit Dec. 30 in U.S. District Court in Kansas City charging that Tanairi Rios, 15, was barred from speaking Spanish in school by the principal, Mary Viveros, while attending Sumner Academy during the 2003-04 school year.

Carroll Macke, the communications director for the 20,000-student Kansas City school district, said the allegations were false. He said Ms. Viveros, whose first language is Spanish, had merely advised Tanairi Rios and her sister that when they spoke Spanish, other girls who didn’t understand the language might jump to the conclusion they were talking about them.

The lawsuit was the second filed against a Kansas public school district in December regarding students’ use of Spanish at school. Lorenzo Rubio sued the Turner Unified district, also in Kansas City, alleging a principal had violated his son Zachariah’s civil rights by suspending him from school Nov. 28 for speaking Spanish. The Turner school district’s lawyer said the district’s superintendent had rescinded the suspension, and the lawsuit has no merit.