Students walk out of New Jersey high school to protest teacher telling students to “speak American.”

(CNN) – Students at a New Jersey high school walked out of class Monday.

Cliffside Park teens are protesting a teacher who told Spanish speaking students to “speak American.”

The walk out started with about 15 students but soon dozens more poured out. They waved flags representing their Spanish speaking cultures from the windows and on the school’s front lawn.

“We want to make a statement obviously and let it be known hopefully this is the last time it will ever happen,” said Cliffside Park Junior Jasmeen Velesco.

Over an hour into the protest, a fire alarm was triggered and the entire school evacuated. Students at the school are protesting because of a 25 second video aired last week that shows an exchange between students and an English teacher who was substituting in an junior-senior math class.

In the video you hear the teacher say “”Men and women are fighting. They are not fighting for your right to speak Spanish. They are fighting for your right to speak American.”

The comment has incited a debate on social media. Three students in the classroom walked out.

“First of all American is not a language,” said Freshman Omar Toledo. “I think she was just trying to get her class to just stop speaking Spanish but she said it in the worst way possible.”

Students in the class said the teacher did ask students to stop whispering in Spanish before this erupted.

A number of current and former students said this teacher does have a reputation for cracking down on bilingual students.

Students who walked out were unsure if they would be suspended as a result. Shortly after the fire alarm was triggered, most students returned to class.

A local TV station has reached out to the school superintendent for comment but has not heard back yet.

 

 

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