Andrews Elementary School principal removed following allegations of bullying, discrimination

A principal accused of discrimination can no longer return to Andrews Elementary School, according to the Austin Independent School District.

The announcement comes just days after allegations including bullying and discrimination against the immigrant community against Gabriela Soto came to light.

AISD says if these allegations are found true, they are not acceptable. Meanwhile, Soto has been placed on approved leave. She has been at Andrews since 2018.

"This principal not only should not be principal, but she should not even be an employee of this district,” civil rights lawyer Jay Harrington said. “Anybody with that attitude should not be teaching kids."

On Monday, members of the East Austin Schools Manifesto Coalition rallied outside the school in protest, saying they received a number of grievances from parents and AISD staff about Soto's behavior.

One allegation claims Soto prevented students from attending a school field trip because of their immigration status and one family said they had to pull their children from Andrews for fear of their safety.

"If the principal has this idea that immigrant children are unwelcome or even hostile ideas towards these kids that really upsets the parents and scares them and the last thing you want are kids to stay at home and not come to school,” said Harrington.

Parents received a letter from the district Wednesday addressing Soto's removal, however, local advocacy groups are demanding more be done.

"You know it's a very weak letter,” Harrington said. “It's not an apology, you know, it's these nice soft words the district uses but it's not good enough. If you do something wrong you should apologize for it."

This isn't the first time the district has dealt with discriminatory allegations against an educator.

In 2017, students walked of Fulmore Middle School after a teacher allegedly told a student who was speaking Spanish to "go back to Mexico."

On Thursday, the district met with concerned families affected by Soto's actions.

"If those allegations are found to be true it's completely unacceptable,” said Michelle Cavazos, AISD chief officer for school leadership. "If the allegations are found to be true, they do not align with our values as a district they go completely contrary to what we believe in."

Diana Vallejo has been named as the Andrews Elementary substitute principal.