Los Alamos School Board Passes Resolution To Not Disclose Immigration Status Of Students

School Board Secretary Ellen Ben-Naim moves for the adoption of a resolution stating that school personnel and contractors will not disclose information on the immigration status of students. Photo by Bonnie J. Gordon/ladailypost.com
 
By BONNIE J. GORDON
Los Alamos Daily Post
bjgordon@ladailypost.com

The Los Alamos School Board unanimously has passed a resolution stating that school personnel and contractors will not disclose information on the immigration status of students. No records on immigration status are currently kept, in accordance with federal law.

In addition to the resolution, the Board plans to create a policy directing District staff on how to deal with inquiries into immigration status and more generally how to deal with federal law enforcement on campus.

The resolution is based on one adopted by the Las Cruces School District.

Speaking in favor of the resolution during Tuesday’s School Board meeting, Board Secretary Ellen Ben-Naim said it would “express support for a vulnerable population.” Currently, there is a lot of fear within the immigrant community, she said.

School Board Member Stephen Boerigter questioned singling out one agency, namely Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in the resolution. In the context of talking about immigrant students, ICE is the agency with that purview, Ben-Naim countered.

“It is the agency that is making the immigrant community feel unsafe,” she said.

“We need to make a statement to the community that we will do everything we can to protect our students,” School Board Member Bill Hargraves said.

School Board President Jenny McCumber said developing a process so staff are aware of and feel confident that they know how to enact should be the most important part of the process of developing a policy on dealing with immigration questions.

Current policy is for persons inquiring about immigration status to  be directed to the Superintendent’s Office.

“We have weeks ahead of looking at the policy,” Ben-Naim said. “The resolution is a more narrow topic.”

Superintendent Kurt Steinhaus said District staff would conduct a thorough review and come back to the Board with policy recommendations.

The complete text of the resolution:

WHEREAS, the Los Alamos Public Schools (LAPS) welcomes all students

and has a responsibility to ensure that all enrolled students, regardless of

immigration status, can safely access a free public education; and

WHEREAS, the Los Alamos School Board has a strategic plan that includes

a focus on student and staff well-being; and

WHEREAS, The United States Supreme Court held in Plyer v. Doe (1982)

that no public school district has a basis to deny children access to

education based on their immigration status, citing the harm it would inflict

on the child and society itself, and the equal protection rights of the

Fourteenth Amendment; and

WHEREAS, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE)

longstanding policy states that it will not conduct immigration enforcement

activity at any sensitive location, including on school property, at education-

related activities or events, and at bus stops, during periods when school

children are present at the stop, unless exigent circumstances exist or

without special permission from specific federal law enforcement officials;

and

WHEREAS, no state or federal law mandates that local school districts

assist ICE in the enforcement of immigration laws; and

WHEREAS, educational personnel are often the primary sources of

support, resources, and information to assist and support students and

their families, which includes their emotional health; and

WHEREAS, licensed support personnel such as counselors and social

workers, as part of their support to students and families, have a

professional and ethical responsibility within the scope of their license to

provide information regarding District and community resources; and

WHEREAS, through its policies and practices, LAPS has made a

commitment to a quality education for all students, which includes a safe

and stable learning environment.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the School Board

encourages the Superintendent to enhance partnerships with non-profit

community-based organizations who provide resources to families faced

with fear and anxiety about immigration enforcement efforts; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that all students, regardless of immigration

status, who register for or seek to participate in any and all benefits of a

LAPS public education, receive all such school benefits and services to

which they are otherwise entitled, including free or reduced-cost meals,

transportation, health care treatment from the school nurse, extracurricular

activities and educational services, and that no school district staff shall

take any steps that would deny students access to education based on

their immigration status or that would “chill” the rights of any student to the

benefits of a LAPS public education;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that in its continued commitment to the

protection of student privacy, the Board directs the Superintendent to

review the District’s record-keeping policies, regulations and practices to

ensure that no data is required, or is being collected, with respect to

students’ immigration status or place of birth; and to cease any such

collection as it is irrelevant to the educational enterprise; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Board directs the Superintendent to

communicate to District personnel the expectation that District personnel

not report undocumented students to ICE, including B-2 visa bearers who

attempt to attend school, and should ICE or other immigration law

enforcement agents request any student information, the request shall be

referred to the Superintendent’s Office to ensure compliance with the

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), student constitutional

privacy, standards for a judicial warrant, and any other limitation on

disclosure; this review will be conducted before any production of

information is made; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Superintendent shall post this

Resolution on the LAPS website and distribute it using usual means of

communication; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Board affirms that certified

employees have the academic freedom to discuss this Resolution during

class time, provided the discussion is age-appropriate and does not

promote political candidates or partisan activities; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that any third party providing services on

behalf of the District through contractual or other arrangements, including

nonacademic and extracurricular services and activities, shall be notified of

this Resolution and required to abide by it.

LOS ALAMOS

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