President of Kaplan College Campus Is Fired Over ‘English Only’ Dispute

The president of Kaplan College’s campus in Chula Vista, Calif., was fired this month over his handling of an incident in which students were told they could face academic sanctions if they spoke Spanish in class, according to sources involved with the case.

Dennis Manzo had been president since the campus, located just seven miles from the Mexican border, opened in December.

All calls to the campus were referred to Ron Iori, spokesman for the college’s for-profit corporate parent, Kaplan Higher Education, in Chicago. He would not confirm that the president had been fired, or provide information on how to reach him, but he said Mr. Manzo is no longer working for Kaplan. "We all agreed that it was best if we parted ways," he said.

Angel Roman, now president of Kaplan’s Beaumont, Tex., campus, will take over as president of the Chula Vista campus this week.

Jonathan Cedeño, the student whose complaint triggered the investigation that led to the president’s dismissal, said an Anglo woman in his medical-assistant course had been complaining that he and his friends, who started the class after she did, weren’t keeping up.

"She had been giving us a hard time and insulted me in front of the class, and we had had enough, so we were talking about her," he said. The conversation took place on May 3 during a break in the class, he said. After the class, "she complained to the president that we were talking about her in Spanish and that she didn’t understand what we were saying," Mr. Cedeño said.

He said Patricia Dussett, program director for allied health, came in to two of his classes the following day and told students that campus policy forbade the use of any language other than English in class, even in side conversations. "I told her I didn’t think that was fair and that that violated my rights," Mr. Cedeño said. He said Ms. Dussett responded that if he continued speaking in Spanish, his grades could suffer and he could face other academic sanctions, including expulsion.

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