President of Kaplan College Campus Is Fired Over ‘English Only’ Dispute

Katherine Mangan, Chronicle of Higher Education, May 31, 2010

The president of Kaplan College’s campus in Chula Vista, Calif., was fired this month over his handling of an incident in which students were told they could face academic sanctions if they spoke Spanish in class, according to sources involved with the case.

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Jonathan Cedeño, the student whose complaint triggered the investigation that led to the president’s dismissal, said an Anglo woman in his medical-assistant course had been complaining that he and his friends, who started the class after she did, weren’t keeping up.

“She had been giving us a hard time and insulted me in front of the class, and we had had enough, so we were talking about her,” he said. The conversation took place on May 3 during a break in the class, he said. After the class, “she complained to the president that we were talking about her in Spanish and that she didn’t understand what we were saying,” Mr. Cedeño said.

He said Patricia Dussett, program director for allied health, came in to two of his classes the following day and told students that campus policy forbade the use of any language other than English in class, even in side conversations. “I told her I didn’t think that was fair and that that violated my rights,” Mr. Cedeño said. He said Ms. Dussett responded that if he continued speaking in Spanish, his grades could suffer and he could face other academic sanctions, including expulsion.

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