Zero Tolerance Means Never Saying "I Love You" In Menominee

A friend gave me a heads-up about this story, and I think it’s an indicator that “zero tolerance” in schools may have gone just a bit far (emphasis in original throughout)…


SHAWANO, WISCONSIN – What’s love got to do with it? Not much, especially if you say the words “I love you” in the Menominee language in front of a certain Wisconsin teacher.

Seventh grader Miranda Washinawatok, Menominee, found this out.

Miranda speaks two languages: Menominee and English. She also plays on her basketball team. However, two Thursdays ago she was suspended for one basketball game because she spoke Menominee to a fellow classmate during class.

Miranda attends Sacred Heart Catholic Academy in Shawano, Wisconsin. The school body is over 60 percent American Indian. The school is approximately six miles from the south border of the Menominee Indian Tribe Reservation.

It also sounds like no one wants to take responsibility for the decision to suspend her from the basketball team:

“Miranda kept saying she was only told by her assistant coach she was being benched because two teachers said she had a bad attitude. I wanted to know what she did to make them say she had a bad attitude.”

At the school, the teachers and coaching staff seemed to want to cast blame on each other, according to Miranda’s mother.

So what did Miranda do?

The alleged ‘attitude problem’ turned out to be that Miranda said the Menominee word

that means

and said


in Menominee that means “I love you.”

Miranda and a fellow classmate were talking to each other when Miranda told her how to say “Hello” and “I love you” in Menominee.

“The teacher went back to where the two were sitting and literally slammed her hand down on the desk and said, “How do I know you are not saying something bad?”

The story did not end there. In the next session, another teacher told Miranda she did not appreciate her getting the other teacher upset because “she is like a daughter to me.”


The school did eventually apologize… sort of.

[Miranda’s mother Tanaes] Washinawatok has had a total of three meetings with school officials and was promised Miranda would receive a public apology, as would the Menominee Tribe, and the apologies would be publically placed.

“On Wednesday, a letter was sent to parents and guardians. A real generic letter of apology, that really did not go into specifics as to why there was this apology,” Washinawatok told the Native News Network Thursday evening.

“I still don’t think it was enough,”

Normally, I am a supporter of Catholic schools, though I am not Catholic myself, because they generally provide a much higher quality education than public schools do. This incident, however, sort of shakes that. I’d say those teachers need to be disciplined and a better apology needs to be given to Miranda.

(Image of Miranda from Native News Network story linked above)


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