School of Education: Legal Seminar Videos

Illegal Discrimination: Scenario 1


First Scenario

Dr. Erma Jean Sims,
Sonoma State University

Let's take a look now at a scenario based on illegal discrimination. Ms. Olsen is very uncomfortable with her second language learners. She seated all of the Spanish-speaking students at table 5 in the back of the room. She has admonished her students from speaking Spanish in her classroom. Miguel, one of her students, complains to his parents that his teacher is rude to him and makes some snide remarks about him and his culture in front of his classmates. Ms. Olsen sends Miguel to the office for getting a drink of water without permission. While Miguel is there in the office, Miguel tells the principal that he is being mistreated by Ms. Olsen. The principal Mr. White disregards Miguel's comments and admonishes him to stop making trouble in the classroom and send him promptly back to his class. So we notice here that Ms. Olsen is uncomfortable with second language learners and she has seated them in the back of the room. Miguel has already informed his parents that he is concerned about the way he is being treated by Ms. Olsen; that she's making some snide remarks about his culture in front of his classmates and for a seemingly small infraction she has sent him to the office. We also know in this scenario that Miguel has informed the principal that he feels he's being mistreated and the principal has disregarded Miguel's comments. Let's take a look now at the questions around this scenario. The first question that I'm going to ask you to take a look at is: Is Miguel being discriminated against by his teacher, Ms. Olsen? We'll talk about that in our small group. We also want to talk about; does the principal have a responsibility to investigate Miguel's complaints about Ms. Olsen? And thirdly, what rights does Miguel have to protest discrimination based on race/ethnicity and language? We're going to take about five minutes for you to turn to someone sitting next to you and respond to this scenario and answer these questions in your small groups.

Student: I do think that it's unfortunate that she has secluded them all in the back of the classroom.

CREDITS: Instruction and Content by Dr. Erma Jean Sims, Sonoma State University. Videography and Technical support by Mark Niemann, Sonoma State University