RANDY & PEACHES SANOVIC: Discriminatory policies and practices in our public schools?

TO THE EDITOR:

On Jan. 30, we wrote a letter to the editor, “How should we treat our exchange students?” It described a situation that caused pain and embarrassment for our Spanish exchange student who was selected by her classmates for a secondary role on Homecoming Court.

Nerea was a straight A student, participated in volleyball, basketball, softball, was given a speaking, singing and dancing role in the 2018 musical “The Little Mermaid,” and is a highly ranked international chess tournament player.

She was informed by the Bear Lake School administration that she could not comply with her classmate’s selection process by accepting a specific secondary Homecoming “role” because she was an exchange student.

Recently, Bear Lake decided on a new policy which basically states that a student, both U.S. or exchange, must qualify for such a “role” in the enrolled school year following the previous full school year in which they had been enrolled. Since our exchange students at best are enrolled for only one full school year, to us this is an example of blatant discrimination.

It was also stated that the exchange students would be allowed to participate as representatives/ambassadors of their countries so they apparently will all get the experience. In our thinking the only “experience” they are sure to get is no matter if they had been selected by their classmates, they are not allowed to achieve annual roles that any qualified U.S. student in any full student year can.

We strongly believe that students in general are very capable of judging who amongst them are worthy of recognition, and deserve to share in the awards and roles that are annually provided for them to achieve. When school administrations create policies and processes that discriminate against exchange students we are fostering an environment of purposeful exclusion.

We hope that none of us are so paranoid or self-serving that given our exchange students take the same classes, play the same sports, earn the same awards, that we still want to treat them as second class student citizens. Are we so afraid of the presence of a few exchange students who excel and earn the respect of their classmates that we are creating policies to exclude them from the recognition and rewards that they’ve earned?

We also have a 17 year old niece who would be a junior at Bear Lake who we would consider transferring to a non-discriminatory school, a decision we really don’t want to make because we still feel the small family atmosphere at Bear Lake suits her best, and our substantial experiences with the teachers have shown us that they care greatly about the success of their students, and in terms of quality of teaching are second to none.

We will forgo our exchange student selection for the upcoming school year until we can determine which township school is best. Our previous exchange student, an Italian girl, was placed at Onekama.

Randy and Peaches Sanovic

Proud host parents and guardians of a U.S. student

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