Racist comment at school meeting in Michigan and parents respond
A parent meeting in one of the Michigan schools turned into the dispute over the racist comment said by one of the attendees towards another and reeled the community after the incident was caught on camera and published.
Monday, Liberty school in Saline, Michigan, during the meeting called to discuss concerns about diversity and acceptance at schools, Adrian Iraola, who is Latino, was standing in front of the other parents with a microphone in his hands sharing his story about how racism in the school affect his son.
"I remember when I went to his bedroom, to say good night, and he was crying because of the abuse that he was enduring in this school system," he started.
And here he was interrupted. The man spoke behind him:
"Then why didn't you stay in Mexico?"
The man was later identified as Tom Burtell.
Burtell, who is white, was instantly gifted with unpleasant groans and gasps from other parents as they turned around to look at him.
“You need to leave,” one woman replied.
Iraola, who has lived in the U.S. for nearly 40 years and owns three Mexican restaurants, and who is father of two former students of the school, applied to Burtell and offered him the microphone so he could speak out for himself.
Burtell however declined.
"He asked me a question. ... 'Why didn't I stay in Mexico?'" Iraola said. "Because this is the greatest country in the world."
"But you're complaining about being here," Burtell said.
Tim Burtell, Tom's son, told ABC News on Tuesday that none of his 10 siblings condoned their father's actions.
"The only message I want to say is that our family condemns our father’s vile beliefs," said Tim Burtell said on behalf of the children and his mother.
"Hate, prejudice, and racism have no place in our schools or our community," the school district, said in a statement Tuesday.
"Yesterday, February 3rd, an individual in the Saline community made racist remarks at a forum directed at one of the parents in our community," Saline Area Schools Superintendent Scot Graden said in a letter. "This type of bigotry goes against all of the values and beliefs of our school system."