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Principal's Apparent Slur Lacked Context

January 12, 2002

Re "Principal Plays to Student Potential, Not Failure," Jan. 2: As one of the assistant principals at Jordan High School I have had an opportunity to observe and interact with the principal, Dhyan Lal. Dr. Lal has provided an ongoing academic staff development program to help teachers become more proficient in their classrooms. He has made sure his vice principals and coordinators visit the classrooms on a daily basis to ensure that meaningful instruction is taking place. At every opportunity during the school day, Lal and the rest of his administrative staff remind and counsel students that it is their responsibility to absorb and learn the academic instruction that their teachers are providing.

As a Mexican American educator I was very puzzled by the article's portrayal of Lal as using bigoted language. It referred to Lal saying to a Latino staff member, "Did you eat your burritos today?" This was an incident that involved me. Lal and I are both a "few pounds" overweight and are always trying to help each other count calories. Thus, when he asked if I had eaten burritos that day that were made for us by a well-intentioned and good-hearted school employee, I simply replied that I did not know someone had made burritos for us. I knew that Lal was trying to help me with my diet, but apparently your reporter did not. This was certainly not an ethnic slur. Lal would never, and I mean never, involve himself with such language.

Mike Gonzalez

Assistant Principal

David Starr Jordan High School

Los Angeles

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