You can now see the original handwritten letter, in PDF form, one version has Hall's name blacked out, and neither one has the addressee's name.
And here's the text of the letter.
A story in an Orlando paper gives no clue to how the letter, presumably addressed to a member of Florida's Congressional delegation, came into the hands of the local Hispanic paper, El Nuevo Dia, Republicans Tom Feeney, Ric Keller, John Mica and Katherine Harris and Democrat Corrine Brown have all denied receiving it. Here are some choice paragraphs from the Orlando Sentinel's coverage:
To Hall's defenders, though, she is the oppressed, a victim of a public-school gag order, of political correctness in the extreme. They say she has a First Amendment right to free speech, and that her words, however controversial, were not written in a classroom setting or meant for public consumption.
In fact, an Orlando Sentinel review of Hall's personnel file in Orange County, where she has taught for five years, and in Polk County, where she taught previously, reveals a teacher who received often stellar reviews....
[Superintendent's Hispanic Advisory ] Committee chairwoman Gloria Esteban[send her mail] said the letter goes contrary to the district's "commitment to diversity in preparing us and our children for the global world, not just Orlando-ZIP-code-world." ...
Of course, the problem here is that Orange County is not only educating children for the global world, they're being asked to educate the world, at Florida's expense.
Sylvia Caceres, [send her mail]head of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration in Orlando, pleaded with [Superintendant Ronald ]Blocker to take his message of inclusion to the Hispanic community.
"I'm not here to complain. . . . I must say that last week we were very hurt," she said. "It's a shock to me that we are in the 21st century and that there are still people that don't embrace diversity."
If you've never heard of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration, it's a Puerto Rican Government organization that acts as lobbying group in Washington, and as a quasi-diplomatic office for Puerto Ricans on the mainland. Your tax dollars at work, to make sure your tax dollars work real hard.
Whether Orange officials fire Hall could be decided as soon as next week. A dismissal meeting that could have laid the ground for her to be terminated was planned for today but was delayed because Hall's lawyer from the state teachers' union could not be present.
School Board Chairman Tim Shea said he wants to know whether the teacher's freedom-of-speech rights were violated.
"I plan to ask about First Amendment issues," Shea said. "Is the superintendent within his legal rights to suspend her without pay? It's really a legal analysis."
The School Board has the legal right to suspend her without pay, said board attorney Frank Kruppenbacher. It's up to board members to decide, he added.
Kruppenbacher said that part of the district's case rests with Hall having identified herself in the letter as a teacher and having written that Puerto Rican students were "holding back" American children....
Hall has not commented, but the Sentinel has learned that the veteran teacher penned the handwritten letter during her summer vacation, sending it to members of Florida's congressional delegation. So far, no member of Congress has admitted receiving the letter. [Hispanics aim to mend relations torn by letter By Mary Shanklin and Victor Manuel Ramos, Orlando Sentinel, August 23, 2005 ]