A Texas teacher is fighting to keep her job after she told a student “Go back to Mexico.”
Shirley Bunn, a math teacher at Barnett Junior High School in Arlington, Texas, acknowledged she lost her temper on Sept. 30 while handing forms out to students in her class, Dallas-Fort Worth’s Fox 4 reported.
According to public records, a disruptive student was repeatedly requesting a form printed in Spanish by saying, “I’m Mexican. I’m Mexican.” Bunn, a two-time “Teacher of the Year” with 24 years of teaching experience, attempted to tell the student he could get the form in the office but he continued to repeat, “I’m Mexican.”
“[Then] go back to Mexico,” Bunn shot back.
She was immediately placed on paid leave the day of the incident and is still waiting for the school board to rule next month on whether she should be reinstated. An independent hearing examiner said Wednesday he believes she should return to her job.
Examiner Jess Rickman III said in a 32-page opinion to the board that Bunn, who has taught at Barnett since 1999, has had “superlative” performance reviews and her remarks “do not rise to [a] level of good cause” to fire her, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.
Bunn said she was “thrilled and relieved” by the opinion and that she regretted her remark the moment she said it.
“It was almost instantaneous. I thought, ‘God, I don’t believe that came out of my mouth,’” she told the Star-Telegram. “It was a very, very hard week, the end of six weeks. It was late in the day. It was a Friday. We were on the third day of the first curriculum assessment and I knew it wasn’t going well. It was just an extremely bad day.”
The school board could still reject Rickman’s assessment and opt to terminate Bunn, though her union representatives do not believe that is likely, Fox 4 reported.