DES MOINES, Iowa — As the presidential race continues some controversial views are weaving their way into Iowa classrooms.
A political discussion between middle school students is blurring the line between free speech and offensive.
Donald Trump is a lightning rod for controversy, but is his immigration stance becoming misconstrued by students not yet old enough to vote?
“We have drug dealers coming across we have rapists, we have killers, we have murderers,” Trump has said.
On Wednesday, tempers flared at Des Moines’ Amos Hiatt Middle School when one student, whose parents are Trump supporters, told a few Hispanic students that their families will be deported when Trump wins the election. The students then fired back with inflammatory remarks and called the student a racist.
“The focus on deportation and the talk about immigration and building a wall, in a community as diverse as Des Moines, it’s an issue that people are going to react to,” said Phil Roeder, communications director of Des Moines Public Schools.
There are over 100 languages and dialects spoken within the Des Moines Public Schools District. Roeder says he encourages political expression from students, but he said there is a fine line between free speech and being offensive.
“Our right to feel strongly about a candidate ends when the rights of somebody else feeling safe begins,” Roeder said.
A similar event occurred in February when a select few at a Dallas-Center Grimes basketball game used Trump’s name to degrade minority players on the Perry High School basketball team.
Dallas Center-Grimes students not involved in the incident apologized for the chants and came to Perry’s side.
“We have an obligation to make sure students aren’t feeling threatened or afraid at school,” Roeder said.
Claudia Steele is a Latina who says Trump’s immigration stance is not discriminatory and that she will cast her vote for Trump.
“The ones he would like to stay here are the ones that are good citizens,” Steele said.
She feels it’s also important for parents to educate their children when they stand behind any political candidate, including Trump.
“They should be told and educated that Republicans, they do not discriminate against people and Trump does not discriminate people,” she said.
As Des Moines schools embark on summer break, administration officials are left with a take home assignment before the fall.
“The challenge, of course, is if students are repeating simply what a candidate for the White House says, what do you do about it?” Roeder said.
The Amos Hiatt Middle School principal says the school handled the problem internally and spoke with all students involved.