High school handbook makes waves in Apex

August 19, 2013 2:45:58 PM PDT
Some people think a pamphlet set to be handed out at Apex High School next week is "discriminatory," and could reinforce old stereotypes.

The handbook is meant to make it easier for students and their parents to get a handle on rules, classes, and the school calendar. However, if you don't speak English, it won't help much.

"This gives me a lot of concern," said Attorney Jack Holtzman, with the N.C. Justice Center.

Two things bother Holtzman. One is how little Spanish is in the book, and the other is where that Spanish is found -- in the discipline section.

"That the only place a Spanish speaking parent might be interested or where it might be relevant is in that disciplinary section," said Holtzman.

Holtzman says the handbook could violate section six of the Civil Rights act, which protects language rights.

"They need to follow Title Six and make sure the language rights of all the Spanish speaking parents and students are protected," said Holtzman.

The principal at Apex High School told ABC11 that everything a Spanish student needs to know is also in the student handbook, and, while it is written in English, it's also written in Spanish.

"I think the issue is that Apex High School was trying to ensure that on the most important piece of its code of conduct, that it's covering its basics with Spanish speaking student," said Mitch Kokai, with the John Locke Foundation.

School officials say they spent $2,000 on 2,500 handbooks, which is an expense the school has to pay. More pages would have meant more money.

To many at the school, the added cost wouldn't be worth it. One parent told ABC11 that if students or parents can't read it, "They should learn English." However, to others, with school starting in less than a week, it's a problem worth fixing fast.

"At this point, the thing to do would be to ensure that whatever sections are in here are translated into whatever languages the parents that go to Apex can understand," said Holtzman.  "They should be treating Spanish speaking parents in the same way they're treating English speaking parents.

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