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Comal ISD Moms Encourage District to ‘Do Better’ and Avoid Racist Rhetoric

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Comal ISD Moms Encourage District to ‘Do Better’ and Avoid Racist Rhetoric

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Morena Hockley, second from left, is the mother of two Comal ISD Canyon High School soccer players and says some parents are afraid to speak out about an email from the high school's athletic booster club president calling COVID-19 the "China virus." (Back row, l-r) Dominic Hockley, Morena Hockley, Andy Hockley (who is Filipino-American), Juliana Hockley and Christian Hockley. Front row: Massimo Hockley.

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.”

 

16 Comments

  1. D.G. August 27, 2020

    So sorry you are so offended. It seems to be in vogue now. The flu virus for many years has always been described from where it originated. Take for instance the Russian Flu of 1889. By the way, it killed over 1 million people worldwide. How about the Spanish flu of 1918 (still ongoing)? Killed over 50 million worldwide. Asian flu of 1957-58 killed 1.1 million. Hong Kong flu of 1968-1970 killed 1 million; Swine flu (H1N1) 2009 killed over 600,000. And lastly, the China Flu or Covid 19. A bit over 800,000 deaths worldwide now and we’ve shut down the entire world. Maybe you should focus more on your children’s education rather than your own overly sensitive fragile psyche.

    Reply
  2. Jessica August 27, 2020

    It is not being over sensitive to expect adults in leadership positions to be role models. Especially in written communication. Remember, this was in writing… something that this gentleman had the opportunity to proofread. This leads me to think that his verbal communications are likely even less sensitive. Casual references like this – and our acceptance of them – contribute to a community culture of intolerance. We can do better. I am a CISD parent and I expect, at a minimum, professionalism In correspondences. I find this disappointing.

    Reply
  3. Tracy August 27, 2020

    Casual racism has no place in leadership positions. If you can’t act better, learn how. If you don’t want to change, leave. It’s that simple. Just because it’s your right to act a fool doesn’t mean we have to put up with it, or that you should be protected from the consequences.

    Reply
  4. LB August 27, 2020

    The decisions in our district should be guided by science, not politics. There are absolutely zero scientists or other serious people who use the term “China virus.” The only group that call COVID-19 or coronavirus “China virus” is Trump and his supporters, and it is solely to deflect blame an attention away from the abysmal response in the US.

    When the president of the school board adopts insensitive, inflammatory language and posts it on a school website, and no one so much as blinks an eye for over a week, it tells me that the decisions of the school board may be influenced by politics instead of science. We have a community positivity rate over 15%. Is it any wonder that our school board ignored the warnings of public health officials who suggested that anything over 5% is too high to meet in person?

    Thank you to brave parents like Morena and Mel who speak out.

    And to Mr. Drastata – an apology that merely says “sorry some were offended” is not an apology. As Mel put it, please do better. Not only in your public communications, but in your private ones too.

    Reply
  5. Kristy Hurst August 26, 2020

    “China virus” is a Fox News / Republican talking point designed to deflect blame. We need to focus not on “who started it,” but on how we fix it. I’m appalled that the people responsible for keeping our kids safe resort to racist, inflammatory language. I can clearly see where their information is coming from, and it’s not reliable. It’s propaganda, and it is putting kids’ lives at risk.

    Reply
    1. SM August 27, 2020

      Please clarify. You are implying that if we hear the words China Virus that someone may die?
      Additionally, since when in the history of the universe have humans not tried to trace the origin of any crime, disease, war, etc?

  6. LG August 26, 2020

    Wow! How is it ok to be openly racist? Mr Drastara is a Public Elected Official. He is held to a higher standard. He is the school board President, booster President, a member of the SA Chamber of Commerce who does business with 1000’s of businesses including Toyota an Asian company. And SA is known for their tourism. Lots of Asian visitors He also represents Walmart in the region who very well may employ Asian American employees. He must do better. Must be better. Be Best. Being an elected official leaves you open to public scrutiny. It is not ok to be snarky or crass.

    The proper name is Covid-19 or Corona Virus. Don’t make it about liberal vs conservative. Mrs Hockley did not. I think many are appalled and shocked. Surely he is quite professional in business, he needs to be an example (a good one) as he makes big choices for CISD students and teachers. Lead by example. Not do as I say not as I do.

    Reply
  7. Julie Rathbun August 26, 2020

    Attacks on those of Asian descent have skyrocketed in the US since the onset of COVID-19. This disease has a scientific name. I would expect an member of a board of education to use language more befitting his position and recongnize this choice of words as the devisive and dangerous rhetoric that it is. Very disappointing. Thank you, Ms. Hockley, for speaking up. We are better. We can do better.

    Reply
  8. SM August 26, 2020

    There will always be an opportunity to be offended if you choose to seek it. This is the most asinine public outcry of manufactured outrage possible. This is an obvious mantra played like a broken record from progressive thought and speech police.
    Let’s save the outrage for real crimes like governments systematically allowing the murdering of children and private citizens being bankrupted and abused to no end.
    The China Virus conjecture is blatantly objective. This is usually a real problem for the progressive movement who claim to be “down for the struggle” as it doesn’t invoke personal feelings. As a real citizen and tax paying producer I Don’t have that luxury. I just work, provide and call them as I see them. It’s a simple concept that should be adopted if you do not subscribe.
    If these comments find you riddled with anguish and despair that’s your own fault. Go to work, take up a hobby, but most importantly get over yourself because this self loathing take is tiresome and unworthy of The spirt of an American – the rugged individual.

    Reply
    1. Navy Veteran August 27, 2020

      You chose to be offended by this article. You’re not as rugged as you think you are. Toughen up Buttercup.

  9. Jean Nola August 26, 2020

    This is liberal politics and nothing more. Don’t shut your kids eyes to what is actually happening in our world. It is the “China” virus, it began in Wuhan and was allowed to ravage this nation and the world, before China admitted to its origin. It killed thousands of people worldwide and brought economies to their knees. Calling it the “China” virus is directed to the Chinese elites who subjugate their citizens to horrid policies and they, not the citizens have caused these deaths, Chinese people had nothing to do with it. So get off your liberal “high horses” and stop your purely political shanigans: Mr. Dastata made a simple statement. No one expects you to like everything, that is unrealistic, but stop infusing you politics into school policies.

    Reply
    1. Ryan Meachler August 26, 2020

      Stop infusing your racism in our school policies and in our community. Who in Comal County got the virus from China? No one. Should we call locally transmitted cases the Comal virus?

    2. henry devilliers August 26, 2020

      Thats right, when i was young They called Pot Colombian Gold! The tv shows showed What was going on in the drug trade. Nobody covered my ears to protect me. It was facts, and i grew up learning about the evils of the drugs and the Colombian cartel. This is something in life that you can use to coddle and cripple a young child, or ignore it, and let them deal with the facts. Im Colombian, and dont mine teaching liberal pot heads about the evils of the drug they smoke and why lives are hurt for it in another country. I get that the country and people are Ok its the Drug cartel that is evil. I suffer racism, and am told im colombian, but i dont look at the source, i know its because of hate. You can love someone for their nationality, color, etc… or hate them just the same, in a compfortable coversation or one not so comfortable.

  10. Victor Isarraraz August 26, 2020

    He did nothing wrong. Pretty scary how suffocating cancel culture has become. Will not end well. How is it racist to ID a virus by its point of origin. Please look up the definition of racism. “Experts Say”, Who’s “Experts”? SMH.

    Reply
    1. K. M. August 26, 2020

      If you see nothing wrong with this, your ignorance is shining bright. What you call suffocating, I call standing up for what is right. I applaud Mrs. Hockley for stepping forward and bringing light to this despicable situation. We could use more people like her.

    2. Ryan Meachler August 26, 2020

      How about we ID you by your point of origin instead of using your proper name? What should we call you…Motel 6? Buick Skylark?

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