A South County vocational school is being accused of banning students and staff from speaking Spanish.
A former employee and student claim the San Diego Job Corps violated their civil rights.
Gabriel Guzman says he was fired from the San Diego Job Corps Saturday after taking his story to the media. Guzman was in charge of student social activities at the federally-funded school. The Imperial Beach-based campus offers academic and job training to low-income youth.
According to Guzman, things began to get ugly a few weeks ago, when he claims, his supervisor for the recreation department began a new policy.
He says the policy banned students and staff from speaking Spanish during their free time.
Students, including Gladis Cortez staged a campus protest. They also started a signature petition with a letter about the issue.
“I’m just very concerned for the students. They’ve called me crying and they’re very upset so right now, basically, that is my main issue, not so much myself,” said Guzman.
Cortez says she was expelled from the school, but claims a school official had her sign documents to make it seem like she resigned.
“The paper said I was resigning yet he was the one in his own words who told me, `You are kicked out, you’re out of here, we don’t want you in here,’” said Cortez.
NBC 7 called the San Diego Job Corps to get their side of the story, but we were told that they are not commenting and referred us to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Deanne Amaden, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Labor, tells us, “The San Diego Job Corps does not have a policy prohibiting the use of Spanish on its campus. We are however, looking into the issue at hand and will work to resolve the matter if need be.”
Guzman is now filing a lawsuit under Limited English Proficiency, which protects individuals who have limitations reading, writing or speaking English.