Senator Linda Gray Apologizes for Harsh Letter to Special Needs Student

Just got off the phone with Senator Linda Gray -- who almost made us feel bad that we gave her a cyber-slapping in our previous blog post.

Gray was brimming with apologies for her critical letter to local high school sophomore Ana Garcia. In fact, she's hoping to visit Garcia's school next week to apologize in person.

You see, Gray learned after sending the letter that Garcia was a special needs student. That sort of explains why Garcia's writing skills are not as polished as a typical 9th grader's. Whoops!

"I have certainly regretted my comment to the student," Gray says.

She's also sorry about the poor writing in her own letter -- she answers her own e-mails personally and wrote that one hastily, she says.

After she wrote the letter to Ana, the girl replied:


Dear Mrs, Gray I'm sorry about my writing, I'm in a read180 class and wow you kids did go through this i mean school. Look I'm sorry about my questions many things do happen. Well i just wanted to right back i really hope you don't cut our budget thank you.


That was soon followed by a letter from Ana's PE teacher:


I am a PE teacher in the Glendale Union High Scool District. One of my
students recently wrote you a letter, her name was Ana Garcia. She
showed me the way you responded to her concerns about budget cuts. I
know Ana may not have articulated her thoughts clearly, but she works
hard in her classes everyday and is a very sweet girl. She often will
help me out with cleaning up equipment or motivating her friends to
participate-she means well. Just because she may not have a high IQ,
and she has a low reading level gives you no right to speak to her in
such a demeaning way. I was horrified that an adult in public office
would write that to a student who is trying to make a difference. Ana
has never tried to make a difference in politics until she was motivated
to write to a legislator. Your response to her was completely
deflating. She actually felt a need to apologize to you for not being
smart. I understand that you may be under pressure as the public is not
thrilled with our state's budget, but that gives you no right to hurt a
9th grade student's heart. I have a feeling your daughter, as a
teacher, would be embarrassed if you ever spoke to one of her students
that way. As a public official, you may be taking a lot of heat right
now, I can understand your frustration, but so you know for the future,
that is not an appropriate way to respond to anyone.


Sarah Schlesinger


Several folks upset at Gray's reply sent the senator e-mails, too, including this one:


Dear Senator Gray,

My name is Andrew Page, and I am one of your constituents.

I recently read your response to an email sent to you by a fifteen year old high school student, and I was appalled. The tone of your email was condescending and completely inappropriate.

I have read Ana Garcia's email, and I have read your response. I noticed you opened your email by answering the student's questions. I am glad that you took the time to do so, but you were not thankful or gracious for the student's concern.

However, that was not the most troublesome.

You expressed your concern for the student's ability to pass the AIMS language test and pointed out incorrect punctuation. In your email you stated, "Why didn't you take TO time to write an email with the proper punctuation?" What does "take to time to write" mean? I am assuming you meant "take THE time to write" or maybe "take YOUR time to write." Perhaps in your hasty, emotional response, you made a mistake.

Once again, that was not the most troublesome either.

While the fifteen year old high school student's email did have punctuation and grammatical errors, your email shows a LACK OF CHARACTER and RESPECT. I have a higher standard for a publicly elected state Senator than I do for a high school freshman.

What do you think is more important in our culture today, a properly written email or character and respect?

Thank you for your valuable time.

Andrew Page

Alumni from the Glendale UHSD

Gray sent them apolegetic replies.

So, whatever possessed Gray to send such a harsh letter to Ana in the first place? Who knows -- but we're pretty sure it won't happen again.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.