‘Illegals’ History Project From North Carolina High School Goes Viral

Sep 1, 2015
9:00 AM

Yesterday, the Facebook profile of Sydney Dandreaa posted the following image to the Facebook page of WLOS ABC 13, a TV station out of western North Carolina: WLOS

Above that image, Dandreaa posted this:

This is on the history halls of Erwin High school. Please share, let it be known about this.We should not have to be doing this in our classes, it shouldn’t be allowed in the first place! Just wanted to share with WLOS. This a big deal to most of the students attending Clyde A. Erwin Highschool.

Throughout the public thread, Dandreaa added more details:

I’m honestly scared that I’m going to get in trouble for this. But if I do, I had to do what was right. This is really happening at one of the most diverse schools in western North Carolina. I don’t want to see Erwin turn into this, it’s not good. Everyone deserves to be treated equally…

…I’ve always stood up for what’s right, I love Erwin, and I just would hate to see them turn into something like this. Regardless of the assignment it should not have been posted on the walls. It should have been kept in the class rooms, I mean I’m not sure what the assignment was, nor was this picture mine. I just asked him if I could take it to wlos.

I also would like to include, that Erwin is a great school. I love it there, it’s just the simple things like this that are unacceptable and that give us this bad reputation. I hope that my voice will change that, and I hope that Erwin will soon have a better name, and be the great school it has the potential to be. Also, not all the students or staff are all ignorant. There is many great people attending and teaching at Erwin High.

One Erwin parent added this:

I can see a discussion about immigration but I cannot imagine that what I see here is appropriate in any context. Is there another wall showing another viewpoint that we aren’t seeing? As the parent of an Erwin High School student, I am owed an explanation. How about Erwin HS and Buncombe County Schools? What exactly are you teaching my child?

Others also weighed in:

As a future high school teacher this is utterly unacceptable! I grew up in WNC and this is embarrassing and exactly what we should NOT be teaching our students!

As a graduate of Erwin, it makes me sad that the school I grew up in has resorted to this level of discrimination. Whoever allowed those students to post this in/on school grounds should be reprimanded for their actions and the School Board should cut this person from the school regardless of pensions, tenure, and status. Our students shouldn’t be proactively shaming illegals and the students deserve better from their teachers.

Erwin High School is located in Asheville, North Carolina. We did reach out via to Jim Brown, the school’s principal for comment and an explanation. We also called requesting comment, and the first person who took our call told us that the school “was getting a lot of calls this morning.” She also said, “We know about the signs, it’s been taken care of,” and then connected us to Brown’s assistant, who took down our contact info and said that Brown would get back to us.

Also, according to another public Facebook post, there was a meeting this morning at the school. Last night, the public Facebook profile of Angel Morales had posted:


UPDATE, 1:30pmET: WLOS 13 reported that the Tuesday morning meeting is now being scheduled for Wednesday, September 2 and that the signs were “part of a civics class assignment on immigration and naturalization, tied to the political season.” The report also said this: “The teacher allowing [sic] students to express their opinions by making slogans or bumper stickers. But when those signs were displayed for all to see, outrage spread fast.”

UPDATE, 4:15pmET: The Asheville Citizen-Times reported that a meeting between the principal and concerned parents did in fact take place Tuesday morning but that a second one is planned for Wednesday. As social studies department chair Brian Gonzales told the Citizen-Times, the assignment dealt with “how the United States historically has changed its perception and interpretation of the American identity based on those groups that have come over throughout the history of the United States.” Students were asked to create bumper stickers; some read “No Human is Illegal” and “We are One,” while “just a handful of the 30 or so signs reflected an anti-undocumented immigrant viewpoint.” As for Principal Jim Brown: “I think stuck out there in the hall without any type of explanation or any type of putting things into context, it was quickly taken out of context. And of course once it got on Facebook, it took a life of its own.”