PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — The Virginia Beach School Board will likely have a long night ahead of them Tuesday.
Members from the city’s Latino community have signed up to speak in reference to Vicky Manning’s controversial Facebook post, with some addressing the board in their native Spanish.
“Our concern is the children, the students, the ESL students. In reality, all students in the Virginia Beach school system. I think, I have heard that many of them are fearful and feel afraid of even sharing their sentiments. As adults, it behooves us to be protective of our kids,” said Beatriz Amberman.
Amberman serves on the Virginia Beach Human Rights Commission and the Virginia Coalition of Latino Organizations and is slated to address Beach board members. Amberman told 10 On Your Side she’s deeply concerned over Manning’s remarks and lack of apology.
“She should reconsider her profession and the people that she wants to serve. Public leaders should serve to bring communities together to work towards common goals. A person that divides communities I question whether they know that they are serving a public that is very diverse,” Amberman stated.
10 On Your Side learned from a district spokesperson that at least 50 people have signed up to speak during the school board meeting.
On Monday, the Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights sent a letter to the Virginia Beach School Board regarding Manning’s social media post.
In the letter, Executive Director Monica Sarmiento condemned Manning’s post stating that the comments were derogatory against Spanish-speaking children.
“Her direct attack on ESL students is an attack on the accessibility of the American dream and directly opposes what an educational institution stands for,” said Sarmiento.
The letter claims that Manning’s post “amplifies a racist tone against Spanish speakers and encourages hateful rhetoric geared toward Spanish speakers.”
At the end of the letter, Sarmiento urged the school board to take “swift action” against Manning.
“The disparagement of ESL students cannot be tolerated if we are ever to create a safe environment for all children.”
Earlier this month, the office of Chief of the Consular Section of Mexico to D.C., Rafael Laveaga, sent a letter to Virginia Beach Superintendent Dr. Aaron Spence backing up the success and benefits of English as a Second Language to the Mexican community in the area.
In the letter, Laveaga highlighted the contribution of the Mexican community to Virginia due to the ever-growing commercial and cultural exchange between the two. In 2021 along, the trade between Mexico and Virginia was worth $3.2 billion and supported 135,000 jobs according to Laveaga.
Near the end of the letter, Laveaga noted the importance of bilingualism and took the opportunity to highlight the office’s annual donation of Spanish textbooks to elementary schools.
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