About 86 percent of Cross Keys High School's students are Hispanic or Latino, and about three-quarters of their parents speak English as a second language, if at all. (AJC FILE PHOTO)

Report: Dismissed DeKalb teachers made other anti-immigration remarks

The day after Donald Trump was elected president wasn’t the first time two teachers at Cross Keys High School allegedly made disparaging comments about immigrants, according to investigative files on the incidents.

The files, obtained by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution through open records requests, show multiple instances of anti-immigration sentiment from both teachers, according to student statements. 

Both teachers — ESOL and history teacher Susan Petre and French teacher Diane Clark — resigned in recent weeks. 

Early in the school year, a Hispanic female student said teacher Susan Petre told her class she was glad Donald Trump was running for president.

“I am against illegal immigration, and they shouldn’t be here,” the teen said Petre told students.

On Nov. 9, the day after the general election, a student told a teacher Petre said students worried about being deported should blame their parents because the parents brought them to the United States illegally.

A note from Petre in the investigative file says she was only trying to reassure her students.

“What might have been misinterpreted was that I also stated that we (are) a nation of law and undocumented people who came here broke the law,” she wrote.

The day after the election, Clark apparently admonished her students for misbehaving, telling them a story of student who sought her help while being deported. Students say Clark, also an attorney, told them she testified for the other student, and would for them, too. But Clark would have to tell how the students misbehave, sleeping in class and being generally disruptive.

Madame Clark, one student wrote “always brings up immigration in a way that it offends.”

Clark said she stands with her students during “this trying time,” and mentioned making written statements twice in the previous year about students.

“Who am I to discuss anyone’s rights?” Clark wrote in her statement on the Nov. 9 incident.

Both should be fired, Principal Jason Heard recommended. Petre was allowed to resign. Clark retired from the school district.

At Cross Keys, 86 percent of the students are Hispanic or Latino. Most of those parents speak English as a second language, if at all. The school was in the news recently after state officials announced last month that the school reported the third-largest graduation rate increase between 2015 and 2016. Principal Jason Heard said then that helping parents learn English was the key that sparked more parental engagement.

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