MESQUITE, Texas — A large group of students staged a demonstration outside Horn High School in Mesquite this week. The students were marching around the campus, carrying signs and banners, while chanting.
“What do we want?”
“To break the silence!”
“When do we want it?”
The students repeated the chant as they circled the campus.
“There’s been a lot of racist things happening,” said parent Ukiah Swain.
Some parents say the students are speaking out about alleged unfair or questionable treatment by campus administrators. The parents say the children are also protesting disciplinary action recently taken against a popular teacher and supporter.
“They’re requesting and demanding that teacher be brought back,” Swain said.
Some parents claim procedures school administrators recently put in place after several fights broke out on campus are the main source of controversy.
An email sent to staff shows administrators began requiring teachers to escort students to and from lunch. Parents say vending machines were turned off as a disciplinary measure for students.
One teacher allegedly voiced concerns last week.
“She said it was a school-to-prison pipeline. And in a school that is predominately Black and Brown, you know, what you guys are doing to these children is wrong,” Swain added.
In addition to the protest, petitions are also circulating in support of that teacher who has been placed on leave.
Mesquite ISD spokesperson, Laura Jobe, said there is not a lot the school district can say publicly right now because it involves a personnel matter. The school district is aware of the petition. However, Jobe claims a lot of the information in it is inaccurate.
According to Mesquite ISD, the directive to escort students to lunch came as more of the high schoolers started coming to campus over the last grading period, and to provide more supervision while testing was in place. The internal notice sent to staff, however, mentioned the change is “due to the ‘issues’ that have popped up during lunches recently…”
As for the protests, the school district says it supports the students’ freedom of speech.
Parents say they want Mesquite ISD to take the concerns seriously.
“You can’t be in a position where you say you are an advocate for students and not listen to them,” Swain explained.