Comal ISD Moms Encourage District to ‘Do Better’ and Avoid Racist Rhetoric
Morena Hockley’s two sons play on Canyon High School’s (CHS) soccer team but she doesn’t belong to Canyon Athletic Booster Club and didn’t see an Aug. 17 email from president David Drastata warning parents that a storefront location in the cafeteria might not be ready “because of some space issues due to the china virus.”
A neighbor who also is a CHS sports mom and belongs to the booster club showed the email to Hockley, saying she emailed Drastata to complain about the offhand reference to COVID-19 but never heard back.
Hockley said her neighbor doesn’t want to be identified for fear of repercussions for her child, but she does.
“It stunned me that it was used so casually and there was no pushback and that even his apology doesn’t acknowledge how hurtful the words were,” she said. Her husband, Andy, is Filipino-American.
On Aug. 25, over a week after Drastata’s email posted on the band booster site, he apologized and changed “China virus” to “COVID-19” in his letter. Click here and here to read more about this controversy.
Drastata also is president of Comal ISD’s board of trustees, serves on the board of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, and is a Walmart executive for the region.
Kung Flu F You
Hockley said her indignation over how COVID-19 was reframed using racist language began over the summer, when someone placed a “Kung Flu F You” sign on ranch property along FM 1863. Photos were widely shared on a New Braunfels Facebook page. Many commenters thought it was all in good fun. The mother of a child adopted from China did not.
Hockley didn’t either.
“Then to find out about this email coming from someone who is setting policy for the district and should be a leader in district education, to use such a disrespectful tone…It’s racist language and sets a horrible example for everyone, parents and students, and that’s what was so upsetting about this situation,” she said.
True Apology Is Changed Behavior
Mel Pumayugra is the mother of a Morningside Elementary student and also is expecting her second child — imminently. A Dallas native who is descended from Germans, she said her husband is from Ecuador.
She worked as an English-as-a-second-language teacher (ESL) in both Texas New York and has a master’s degree in teaching English to speakers of other languages.
In Pumayugra’s opinion, Drastata’s language was just another sign that Comal ISD isn’t interested in immigrant and undocumented children and is “systematically” dismantling services to English-language learners.
“They’re not providing the kind of support to students that they have in the past for English learners,” she said. “…some of it is a staffing issue but I also, as someone who worked in the industry for awhile, understand that it sends a strong message. If you really want to meet the needs of a community you look at all the people involved. If you have good-old-boys talking about people of Asian descent then maybe they’re not representing the needs of this community adequately.”
Pumayugra said Comal ISD needs to do better by its students.
“For this person’s sake, I hope he has an oportunity to participate in some racial reconciliation. Some people only apologize after they get caught,” she said. “True apology is changed behavior.”