Miranda Washinawatok, Wisconsin Student Punished For Using Native Tongue, Receives Apology From School (VIDEO)

Student Punished For Using Native Tongue, Receives Apology From School, Diocese

The Sacred Heart Catholic School and the Diocese of Green Bay are issuing apologies to 12-year-old Miranda Washinawatok of Wisconsin. The teen was barred from playing in a girls' basketball game for saying "hello," "I love you," and "thank you" in Menominee -- the native tongue of the Menominee Tribe of Indians -- during homeroom, the Green Bay Press Gazette reports.

That may not be enough for the girl's family, however, who want the Sacred Heart teacher to be fired after finding the educator's apology to be insincere.

"She did not apologize," the girl's mother, Tanaes Washinawatok, told the Gazette. "What she has done is try to justify her actions against Miranda and diminish the character of a 12-year-old child."

Tanaes Washinawatok says her daughter was translating the three phrases for classmates when the teacher, Julie Gurta, "Slammed her hands down on the desk and stated, 'You are not to speak like that. How do I know you're not saying something bad? How would you like it if I spoke in Polish and you didn't understand?'"

The mother told WBAY-TV that Gurta only apologized for not notifying the family of Miranda's "behavioral problems" sooner.

"Language and behavior that creates a possibility of elitism, or simply excludes other students, can create or increase racial and cultural tensions" Gurta wrote in her letter, according to the station.

"I felt like her letter was an excuse for her actions," Washinawatok told WBAY TV.

Assistant coach Billie Joe DuQuaine also issued an apology, the Shawano Leader reports, saying he suspended Miranda without knowing the full story, and asks the family's forgiveness.

"Without knowing the whole story, I suspended her," DuQuaine wrote, according to the paper. "And I am sorry. I am asking you to please forgive me for (my) mistake in this incident."

The diocese's Director of Education Joseph Bound told the Associated Press that there exists a need for cultural diversity training among staff, students and families. Diocese spokesperson Deacon Ray DuBois said the diocese is working with a Washinawatoks relative to develop a program for use in the school this spring.

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