Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz came to the Bronx expecting to discuss education and the value of charter schools at the Bronx Lighthouse College Preparatory Academy. However, that event was cancelled after the largely minority student body asked the principal to have the event cancelled.
A charter school source told Jennifer Bain for The New York Post that Cruz had agreed to cancel after hearing that students, teachers, and parents all stood in opposition.
"Cruz is extremely unpopular with the students and families who attend the school," the insider said. "It would have been a mess."
The source added that it was not a good idea to hold a presidential campaign event during school hours. Events such as this one are not allowed at traditional public schools in the city.
Cruz stands in support of charter schools. His wife, Heidi, serves on the board of a Yes Prep charter school in Texas. Cruz donated his legislative salary to the school in 2013 during the federal government shutdown that year.
However, students at the Bronx school wrote a letter to Principal Alix Duggins notifying him that they would walk out during Cruz's appearance, which was scheduled for 2:30p.m. on Wednesday. The appearance had been announced by his campaign on Tuesday night, but was later cancelled without explanation, saying that Cruz would be meeting with clergy men at a Parkchester restaurant instead.
The letter from students referred to Cruz as "misogynistic, homophobic and racist" and said they were offended by the idea of his presence on their campus. They also said that his views went against their own, and were working to harm them, their community, and those they love.
The students went on to say that a group would leaving the school during fourth period in an act of civil disobedience if Cruz came to the school. The students added that they understood the consequences of their actions and were prepared to accept them.
"We told her if he came here, we would schedule a walkout," said Destiny Domeneck, 16. "Most of us are immigrants or come from immigrant backgrounds. Ted Cruz goes against everything our school stands for."
Cruz's immigration plan seeks to add additional security to the border through the placement of a wall on the southern border of the US. In addition, he believes immigration laws need to be better enforced, and legal immigration needs to be reformed. Cruz's own father is a Cuban immigrant to the US.
Upon reading the letter, Duggins told the students that their argument had been so eloquently made that Khori Whittaker, the CEO of Lighthouse Academies, agreed to cancel the event after reading the letter. He went on to praise students for their commitment to their values, adding that he would not have been able to have the event cancelled without their efforts, writes Chauncey Alcorn for The New York Daily News.
A protest during his appearance at the school had also been planned by public school supporters, which included teachers union representatives.