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School districts step up protections for immigrant students

School districts step up protections for immigrant students

Credit score: Fredy Ceja

An estimated one in eight students in California have at the least one undocumented mum or dad, in accordance with a current report.

As fears mount a few federal crackdown on undocumented immigrants, a rising variety of California faculty districts try to reassure students they’ll be capable of attend faculty with out the intrusion of federal authorities.

Final week, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson once more urged faculty leaders all through the state to declare their districts “safe havens” to guard immigrant youngsters. In December, he urged district leaders to make use of Sacramento Unified’s “safe haven” decision as a mannequin.

“I strongly disagree with President Trump’s recent immigration order and want to make sure that our students and families who are refugees and Muslims feel safe and protected in our schools,” Torlakson stated. “California public schools welcome all students regardless of their heritage, religion, ethnicity, background, disability or sexual orientation…. Diversity is California’s strength. We do not just welcome diversity. We celebrate it. An ill-conceived presidential executive order is not going to change that.”

The California Division of Schooling doesn’t monitor faculty board resolutions, however in response to an EdSource survey of the state’s 25 largest districts, 9 have handed resolutions declaring they might shield immigrant youngsters. These resolutions might have federal repercussions after President Donald Trump signed an government order on Jan. 25 threatening to withhold federal funding from “jurisdictions” which have declared themselves sanctuaries for immigrants. The order didn’t outline “jurisdictions” and additional states that the secretary of Homeland Safety “has the authority to designate, in his discretion and to the extent consistent with law, a jurisdiction as a sanctuary jurisdiction.” 

Solely one of many 9 districts, Oakland Unified, used the time period “sanctuary” in its decision title, however not within the textual content of the doc. It additionally refers to itself as a “sanctuary district” on its web site. San Francisco Unified has issued seven resolutions and public statements supporting immigrants’ rights since 2007, describing itself as a “sanctuary” on its web site. 

4 others – Los Angeles Unified, San Bernardino Unified, Sacramento Unified and Stockton Unified – use the time period “safe haven” or “safe zone” of their resolutions relating to immigrant students. 4 districts – San Jose Unified, Riverside Unified, Lengthy Seashore Unified and Fremont Unified – are planning to submit resolutions to their faculty boards.  

Lengthy Seashore Unified is engaged on a decision to deliver to the board inside the subsequent few weeks. Following the Nov. eight election, Superintendent Christopher Steinhauser issued a observe to immigrant households saying, “I would like to reassure these students and their families that we will not deny services, and we will not participate in enforcement actions, based upon immigration status.”

In Fresno, a gaggle referred to as Mi Familia Vota has gathered 700 signatures urging the Fresno Unified faculty board to undertake a safe-haven decision. They hope to current the petition to the board later this month.

“Some children are afraid to go to school, or have stopped attending altogether, out of fear of being deported,” stated Samuel Molina, state director of Mi Familia Vota and a Fresno resident. “Schools need to be supportive of students and show that they’re not going to act as arms of federal immigration enforcement.”

Of the remaining largest California districts, 11 have taken no motion particularly aimed toward defending immigrant students. 

School boards began passing resolutions to guard immigrant youngsters a few decade in the past as anti-immigrant rhetoric started to escalate across the nation. After Trump was elected, extra districts handed resolutions, and others are planning to. Though the wording of the resolutions varies, most include clauses stopping federal immigration brokers from coming onto campus with out permission from the superintendent and prohibiting faculty employees from offering students’ names to immigration officers.

Some district leaders stated they have been undaunted by Trump’s order, and don’t plan to reverse their positions regardless of the specter of funding cuts.

“We’ll fight this in court if we need to. The Constitution is on our side,” stated Steve Zimmer, president of the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Schooling. “And we’ll resist publicly. We’ll turn to foundations for funding. We’ll ask the voters for help if need be. … But we will stand by our decision to be a sanctuary district and affirm it at every juncture.”

The Los Angeles Unified School District, by far the most important within the state, additionally offered tips for academics on tips on how to train classes on the sanctuary metropolis motion, non-violent disobedience and civil rights. The Okay-12 tips, written by the Anti-Defamation League, embrace vocabulary phrases reminiscent of “bulwark,” “refugee” and “detention,” essay subjects and ideas for main class discussions on present occasions and students’ personal experiences.

Some districts, comparable to Oakland Unified, are additionally providing referrals to free or low-cost authorized teams that may assist households full immigration paperwork or battle deportation.

Along with the potential lack of federal funding, some district officers worry the Trump administration will revoke the Deferred Motion for Childhood Arrivals program, which supplies short-term safety towards deportation and the power to work in the USA. This system applies to some immigrants delivered to this nation earlier than they turned 16.

Though Trump’s government order isn’t clear on which sanctuary jurisdictions can be affected, a lack of federal funding would have a big impression on California faculties. The federal authorities despatched California faculties about $7.5 billion in 2014-15 – about 10 % of the state’s general faculty finances – to pay for particular schooling, lunches for low-income youngsters and Title I packages meant to assist low-income youngsters, amongst different packages.

Torlakson declined final week to remark immediately on Trump’s menace to withhold federal funding from sanctuary jurisdictions. Thus far, his workplace has not heard from the Trump Administration on the matter, in accordance with Peter Tira, a spokesman for the California Division of Schooling.

“We are ready and willing to work cooperatively with the new administration at the U.S. Department of Education on any and all issues concerning California’s public school students,” Tira wrote in an e-mail to EdSource. “At this time, we have received no communication from the federal government on this specific issue, and we do not engage in speculation.”

Some districts responded to Trump’s anti-immigrant stance earlier than he took workplace, sending letters to oldsters affirming their faculties’ dedication to tolerance, inclusiveness and security.

Riverside Unified’s superintendent, David Hansen, issued a letter simply after Nov. eight reassuring mother and father that the district “wants all our students to feel secure,” and encourages students who really feel “fearful or overwhelmed” to talk to a trusted grownup or faculty counselor.

The district additionally hosted two workshops for households to study extra about immigration regulation from representatives from the Mexican and Guatemalan consulates in addition to the faculties’ police chief. The board is predicted to vote on a decision in a few month.

“We want to reiterate that the City of Riverside and our schools are a safe place for learning. We don’t want our students to come to school in fear,” stated Justin Grayson, spokesman for Riverside Unified.

San Jose Unified is among the districts that’s persevering with to strengthen its protections for students because of Trump’s current statements. After the Nov. eight election, Superintendent Nancy Albarran despatched a letter residence to oldsters, in English and Spanish, assuring them their youngsters can be protected from potential harassment and deportation at college. Final week the district started crafting a proper decision affirming protections for immigrant youngsters, more likely to be taken up by the board in February, based on spokesman Peter Allen.

“The district has a long-standing policy of not asking students or families about immigration status,” he stated. “We’re very conscious that we’re living in uncertain times. We want to make sure students and their families know that their safety and comfort is our top priority.”

In December’s letter to high school district leaders, Torlakson urged faculties to not acquire or keep paperwork associated to immigration standing so as to decide whether or not a scholar resides inside a faculty boundary, however as an alternative use pay stubs, baptismal data, property tax receipts or different paperwork.

“California serves 6.2 million kindergarten through 12th-grade students with the most diverse population in the nation,” Torlakson wrote in his December memo to superintendents, principals and constitution faculty directors. “Parents should know they are welcome on our school campuses regardless of their immigration status.”

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