HONOLULU (AP) — A teacher for Hawaii’s largest high school has been harshly criticized for sending an email to staff at his school saying he was refusing to teach immigrant students in the U.S. illegally.
Campbell High School teacher John Sullivan used his work email on March 8 to reply to a group of messages about parents keeping students out of school due to fears of being deported.
“This is another attack on the President over deportation,” Sullivan’s email said. “Their parents need to apply for immigration like everyone else. If they are here in the U.S. illegally, I won’t teach them.”
Officials declined to say whether Sullivan had been disciplined by the school’s principal but state Department of Education spokeswoman Donalyn Dela Cruz said Sullivan’s message was “disheartening and concerning.”
“We want to reiterate that the public school system, we service all students,” she said. “In this case, hopefully lessons have been learned.”
Sullivan later told KHON-TV that his email was worded poorly. He said he meant to say that he cannot teach students who do not come to class.
President Donald Trump last month directed his administration to more aggressively enforce immigration laws and to accelerate deportations of people in the country illegally.
Campbell Principal Jon Henry Lee emailed faculty and staff hours after Sullivan sent his email, asking them not to use the school’s email system to express political opinions.
He also reminded faculty that a code of conduct prohibits teachers from discriminating against student based on their nations of origin.
“If a student is enrolled and registered in our school we will service them to the best of our ability just like all other students,” Lee said.
Campbell High School is in Ewa Beach and has 3,125 students.