Brooklyn Principal Apologizes for Remark Deemed Offensive

Elizabeth A. Harris, New York Times, November 6, 2014

The principal of an elite public school in Brooklyn who infuriated parents this week by making what some considered an insensitive remark about learning Spanish has apologized, officials said on Wednesday.

According to several parents, the principal, Donna Taylor, of Public School Intermediate School 686, which is known as the Brooklyn School of Inquiry, said at an open house for potential middle school parents on Tuesday that in New York City, “if you don’t speak Spanish, you’re going to clean your own house.”

The comment came as several dozen parents, many with their fifth-grade children in tow, took a tour of the school, a gifted and talented program in Bensonhurst where the competition for available seats is extraordinary. The group visited classrooms, and then went to the auditorium to hear a presentation by Ms. Taylor.

At one point, a member of the audience asked whether the school offered foreign language instruction. Ms. Taylor explained that the school had had difficulty covering the cost of such programs, but was hoping to hire a full-time Spanish teacher. It was then, several parents said, that she made the offending remark.

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A number of parents complained to the Education Department about Ms. Taylor’s remark.

In a statement released on Wednesday, Ms. Taylor said: “Yesterday at an open house, I made statements, the nature of which was misunderstood, and some attendees were offended. Diversity is an issue that is near and dear to me, and I deeply regret my poor choice of words.”

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