When we posted the letter warning of a Latino “invasion” written by Glendale (AZ) Elementary School District substitute teacher Tony Hill and addressed to Arizona Republican Senate President Russell Pearce, many of our readers thought it was a hoax.
Several major news outlets confirmed that the leadership of the Glendale district have indeed Hill as the writer and will be investigation his allegations.
The Associated Press reports the following:
A metropolitan Phoenix school district has launched an inquiry into a substitute teacher who wrote a letter that portrayed Hispanic students in a harsh light and was read aloud last week at the Arizona Legislature during a debate on an immigration bill.
The Glendale Elementary School District said it has determined that some statements by teacher Tony Hill in his letter to Senate President Russell Pearce were inaccurate.
In the letter, Hill said a majority of the eighth-graders he had recently taught at a Glendale school had refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance and declared that Americans had stolen their land. Hill also wrote that while substitute teaching in the area, he came to believe that “most of the Hispanic students do not want to be educated but rather (want to) be gang members and gangsters.”
The letter quickly inflamed the immigration debate in Arizona. A Republican in the Legislature read the letter on the Senate floor during the immigration debate. Democrats expressed suspicion that it was a hoax that had no place in the public debate on immigration.
District spokesman Jim Cummings said all students questioned in the inquiry have said everyone stood for the pledge and that none said their land had been stolen. “What we are finding here — and what we believe — is that the statements that he made weren’t accurate,” Cummings said.
In the meantime, Pearce had distributed Hill’s letter to all his Republican colleagues in the Arizona Senate. During the debate of several anti-immigration bills on the Senate floor, one senator read Hill’s letter publicly.
According the AP, Pearce was unapologetic:
The letter was the subject of heated exchanges on the Senate floor Wednesday as Pearce refused to apologize.
“It’s read on the floor as factual,” said Democratic Sen. Steve Gallardo of Phoenix, the Senate’s most outspoken critic of the letter.
Pearce said no one from the Senate owes an apology for reading the letter. “It was all verified,” Pearce said. “I’m disappointed that we assault and attack a teacher for speaking out.”
He said the letter wasn’t about Hispanics, but rather was about what went on in a classroom where students were disruptive.
In an interview after the debate, Republican Sen. Lori Klein, who read the letter aloud on the Senate floor last week, said she didn’t regret bringing to light a teacher’s experience, but that she doesn’t believe all Hispanic students want to be gang members.
As to whether she believes the school district’s findings thus far, Klein said, “I don’t think the district wants to be embarrassed,” Klein said.