KOREATOWN—The sign on the wall of the Harvard Elementary School cafeteria reads: “During works hrs we the cafe have a English only rule for safety reasons.”

The policy, first put in place in 2005, has put the district at odds with the cafeteria staff of the elementary school.

Though the majority of the cafeteria staff are native Spanish speakers, the LAUSD cited the importance of communicating potential hazardous situations throughout the entire staff. The lack of a universal language could potentially lead to dangerous mishaps with the handling of food and dangerous kitchen appliances.

In protest, the Service Employees International Union Local 99 and the United Teachers Los Angeles argue that the district’s policy is overly restrictive of the staff’s channels of communication, pointing out that a strict English-only policy creates an unwelcoming environment in a school with an estimated population of 85 percent Hispanic students.

Outside of the kitchens, workers are free to use any language of their choice. The LAUSD continues to maintain its position on the policy.