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Regulating Language in School Kitchens

Staff Writer

During the month of October, a new rule was enabled requiring Los Angeles Unified School District cafeteria workers at Harvard Elementary school to speak only English. A sign posted in the cafeteria of the elementary school stated, “During works hrs we the cafe have a English only rule for safety reasons,” according to CBS. A majority of the cafeteria workers are native Spanish speakers and about 85% percent of the students at Harvard Elementary also speak Spanish.

“Considering a majority of my family also speaks Spanish, I find it rude to tell a group of people to not speak their native language. It’s like taking away a part of someone’s identity,” junior Montserrat Fost said.
Sammie Chen_CafeteriaWorker


Union officials state cafeteria workers must be able to speak English in order to communicate with many of their co-workers in case of any emergencies and safety issues.

“It’s a safety issue if we can’t communicate, so I’m going to communicate in the language that’s most effective with the co-workers around me,” Farmdale Elementary School cafeteria worker Gamaliel Andrade said in a CBS interview.

In a LA School Report interview, LAUSD spokeswoman Monica Carazo stated that this rule only applies when handling food.

“It’s just that for safety reasons, when they’re handling food everybody has to be on the same page. If someone says, ‘Hot plate!’, we want everyone to understand,” spokeswoman Monica Carazo said.

While the district stated it’s best interest is to protect the students’ safety, some students might disagree.

“I don’t think it would affect any of the students in the cafeteria if workers were speaking Spanish. This shouldn’t be enforced because maybe for [the cafeteria workers, speaking Spanish is] the only way to communicate well in order to get their job done. And knowing that 85% of the students are Hispanic I think it’d be a chance for them to converse with the workers,” junior Elizabeth Aguilar said.

The enablement of this rule has also led other cafeteria workers to worry about their respective LAUSD schools and when AHS’ cafeteria workers were interviewed many of them rejected to be interviewed or to be quoted.

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