CONTROVERSY: Teachers are on leave for offensive social media posts concerning “A Day without Immigrants.”
By Brandon Byrne, Staff Writer
On February 16, Rubidoux High School had an unusually large amount of students absent, with some classrooms half empty. The “Day Without Immigrants” protest was meant to convey the impact immigrants have on society. Teachers at Rubidoux High School thought otherwise. Geoffrey Greer, a social science teacher at Rubidoux, created a thread on Facebook, saying that immigrants used the protest as “an excuse to be lazy and/or get drunk. Best school day ever.” Another teacher, Robin Riggle had 50 absences and found that the absences made the day “very pleasant.” One teacher at Rubidoux, Allen Umbarger, noticed that those missing were his “failing students.” Rhonda Fuller and Chuck Baugh found their classes to be less disruptive and called for more days like these. All of the absences made “no discipline issues,” school counselor Patricia Crawford stated. As of now, the teachers are on a paid leave for the comments as the district contemplates how the student’s behavior will be dealt with.
Immigrants and Latinos at Rubidoux were infuriated by the posts. “[Greer] was really cool, but when I saw what he posted[…]I think he’s racist,” Yenica Castro, a senior at Rubidoux and one of Greer’s students, said. Others connected the situation back to Trump: “he’s the one causing all of this,” Jazmin Lugo (12) claimed. The situation continued to escalate when chaos broke out during lunch with food fights, graffiti and vandalism. To stand against what the teachers have posted, students initiated a spontaneous walkout. 150 students took a 2.5 mile walk from Rubidoux High School to Patriot High School and back to protest the teachers’ comments.
To alleviate the mounting tension on campus, Principal Jose Luis Araux made a video expressing his concern for the students’ safety and for their right to express their views. He also mentioned that those teachers’ posts on social media “absolutely do not reflect the values of this school and administration.” To allow students to express themselves in a peaceful and respectful manner, the principal has organized a forum after school to allow them to do so.
The “Day Without Immigrants” was originally intended to be a demonstration of the value of immigrants in America, but some students were glum with how the protest became destructive and chaotic. “I feel it’s giving us a bad image. People are going to associate us with people who are choosing to be disruptive,” Bernice Meza, a senior at Rubidoux, stated.